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What Does Giving and Taking Points Mean in Sports Betting?

Sports betting has long been one of the most popular forms of gambling. And it’s not hard to see why. Combining your knowledge of the game with a side order of luck, sports betting is a great way to “get in on the action” of your favorite sport. And, considering just how much the whole thing is based on expert knowledge that can be channeled into making the best bets possible, it’s also no surprise that there are a great many professional sports bettors out there – not just those who like to put a bit of money on their favorite team, but who spend considerable hours and money doing research and then betting on all games and matches that they think they have a chance of making some money on. 

It’s presumably because of the latter group that though sports betting should be theoretically extremely straightforward, it is more complicated than it looks, especially on a more serious level, and one of the things that newbies to sports betting really need to come to grips with is the often quite arcane lingo associated with even the most basic of sports bets. 

One of the strangest phrases that you may well come across as a beginner to sports betting is “taking” or “giving” points. Simple phrases, yes, but they clearly give no indication of any obvious meaning out of context. Give what points? Take them where? What on earth do these terms actually mean?


Odds and Spreads

To understand almost anything about sports betting, including taking and giving points, you first have to understand what “spreads” are and how they relate to sports betting odds. 

Let’s use a simple example of a basketball game between, say, the Lakers and the Knicks:

Let’s say the Knicks are the “favorite” to win by 3 points. All this means is that in this particular game, sportsbooks – those who work out the odds of each game on offer – have worked out that the most likely outcome is that the Knicks are most likely to beat the Lakers by at least three points.

This is expressed as the odds being +3 to the Knicks and -3 to the Lakers. This is known as a spread and is used by bookies to even the odds between both teams. Practically, this means that if you were to bet on the Knicks winning, they would have to win by at least 3 points for you to win the bet. On the other hand, If you were to bet on the Lakers, you would actually only need the Lakers to lose by less than 3 points in order to win your bet.

In actuality, it should be said, you don’t bet on whole numbers, so you would bet on +3.5 or -3.5 in this case as a way to avoid tied scores.

There are other forms of sports betting that do not make use of this system at all – especially moneyline bets where the bet is simply on whether the team wins or loses – but this is by far the most common form of sports betting available, especially for team sports.

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Giving and Taking Points

With all this in mind, giving and taking points simply refers to who you’re actually betting on in a spread.

Taking points refers to betting on the underdog (as in you’re taking points from the favorite to boost your chances), while giving points refers to betting on the favorite (so you give up those extra points back to the underdog). 

In our example above, You would be taking 3 points if you were to bet on the Lakers, and giving 3 points if you were to bet on the Knicks. So, if you bet on the Lakers winning, you’re effectively taking the 3 point lead from the Knicks by winning even if the Lakers were to lose by, say, 2 points. Similarly, you would be giving those 3 points to the Lakers if you were to bet on the Knicks, so you would lose if the Knicks only won by 2 points.

They’re strange terms but they make sense and once you have a handle on them, you should be good to go with the most common form of sports betting around.

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