ATS Betting Explained

Betting Against the Spread

Experienced punters surely know what point spread betting is. The wager type revolves around an imaginary line the sportsbook sets to even the playing field between 2 uneven teams. Players gamble on either side of the line, but betting against the spread is also possible.

ATS sports betting is a popular market at the best NFL and basketball bookies. It can be applied to almost any team sport and is the opposite of betting with the spread. With an ATS spread, you’re betting on the underdog to win. If you choose to bet with the spread, you pick the favourite.

What Is Against the Spread (ATS) Betting?

As mentioned earlier, betting against the spread means choosing the underdog. For example, in a game between the Titans and the 49ers in a spread market, choosing the team with a + sign next to the odds is betting against the spread.

The + sign can easily recognize the ATS odds, so you don’t get confused about who you’re picking. Seasoned punters shouldn’t have any problem with moneyline betting, but you should learn more about the + and -if you’re new.

To win your ATS bet, your pick must win the game or lose by no more than the specified points. For example, if the spread is 10 points in a basketball game, you will win your bet if the team you picked doesn’t lose by more than 10 points.

How Does Against the Spread Work?

Betting against the spread might be confusing initially, but it’s effortless when you learn more about it. As we explained in the previous paragraph, your underdog must win the game or not lose by more than the spread. Those 2 things must happen for your ATS sports betting pick to win.

If the team loses by more than the specified points, you lose. It’s that simple.

What if You Win a Bet Against the Point Spread?

If your team wins or the opponent doesn’t cover the spread, congrats – you’ve won your bet (the original wager + winnings). Your winnings should be available immediately for withdrawal, so use a reputable payment method to get them.

What If the Point Spread Bet Result Is a Loss?

An ATS bet loss only occurs when your pick loses with more points than the line set. In this case, you lose your whole bet – if you bet $100, you lose it all.

What If the Point Spread Bet Result Is a Tie?

A tie, in this case, results in a so-called push. It means getting your original bet back but without any winnings. If the match ends in a tie and you’ve wagered $100, you get them back immediately.

What Does “To Pick Against the Spread” Mean?

It has the same meaning as the ATS, meaning betting. It’s often used in NFL pick ’em markets, while all others use betting against the spread.

Against the Spread Bets Examples

Let’s say you’re betting on an NBA match between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Orlando Magic, where the ATS is +7 on the Magic. Place this ATS bet, and you’ll win it if the Magic wins the game or doesn’t lose by more than 7 points.

If the line is +4.5 points, your team can lose the match by 4 points, and you’ll still win your ATS.

Betting With the Spread vs Betting Against the Spread

If you prefer to pick the favourite, you’re gambling with the spread. On the contrary, betting ATS means going with the underdog. You only need a single bet against the spread. It learns how it works, so it shouldn’t be confusing for any bettors, new or otherwise.

What Sports Can ATS Betting Be Used For?

Any sport where point spreads apply is suitable for the ATS spread. It is most commonly used in basketball and football betting. Bookies rarely offer ATS bets on baseball or ice hockey, but then again, every betting site is free to decide on its own.

Remember that ATS in other sports may come under different terms, but it’s the same principle.

What Does Against the Spread Mean in Football?

Betting against the spread in football is pretty simple. It works like in any other sport – you wager on the underdog to not lose the game by the specified line or win it outright. Bookies commonly use these bets on regular-season matches and in the playoffs, and you can also get ATS bets on the Super Bowl.

Against the Spread in NFL

The NFL is an excellent choice for point spreads and ATS betting. NFL sportsbooks love offering ATS wagers on all the matches during the regular season and the playoffs.

Let’s check an example to put things into perspective:

  • Kansas City Chiefs -7 (-110)
  • New England Patriots +7 (+110)

In this case, betting against the spread means picking the Pats to win the game or not lose by more than 7 points. That’s the most accessible example of ATS in betting on the NFL, which is a top market for this bet.

ATS in College Football

ATS in college football works the same way as in the NFL. The mechanics are simple, so you must pick the underdog and wait for the match to end.

What Is ATS in Basketball?

Basketball point spreads are quite popular these days, and so are ATS bets. You can put your money on underdogs in the NBA or NCAA or any other league or event the bookie has to offer.

ATS in NCAA Basketball

March Madness is the perfect time for against-the-spread bets. With so many college teams in action, there will be plenty of ATS score options, so don’t forget to check your favourite bookie at this time of the year.

NBA Against the Spread

The NBA is a wild ride where these bets truly shine. Many matches have quite a disparity, making it a perfect choice for ATS betting. With 82 games for each team in the regular season, plus the playoffs and the Finals, there’s plenty of ATS action in the NBA night in and night out.

NHL Against the Spread

As mentioned earlier, it’s rare to find a bookie that offers against-the-spread betting on the NHL. Where it’s available, it’s not very different from football ATS, so you should easily find your way through it.


Point spreads are popular among MLB fans, and you’ll find many sportsbooks that offer against-the-spread bets on the top baseball teams.

It’s a unique sport requiring plenty of stat chasing, so make sure you’ve done your homework before starting.

Final Words

We hope that our guide to what it means to bet against the spread gave you answers to your questions about ATS. It’s a nice change of pace from moneylines and other options and a great way of showing the underdog some love. It can be profitable, too, if the bookie allows it since it’s riskier than a straight moneyline or betting with the spread.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does ATS mean in betting?
    ATS stands for against the spread. Points spread go both ways – betting with the spread backs the favourite, while ATS means choosing the underdog.
  • How do you read an ATS bet?
    If you know the basics of moneyline and point spreads, ATS bets are easy to read. In short, you’ll be rooting for the team with the minus (-) sign to win the game or not lose by the specified points.
  • What does a +7 spread mean?
    A +7 spread means that the team has a 7-point advantage so that it can lose the game by no more than 7 points, and you will still win your ATS bet.
  • Still have questions?
    Ask our experts
Jimmy E
Writer & Tipster

Jimmy is our on-duty tipster and writer. His favorite sports are cricket, tennis, and basketball. If you’re looking for the best betting tips in the business, Jimmy’s your guy. His tips and events previews are among the most read at BetZillion.

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