spread betting terms

Spread Betting Terminology

Spread betting, like all sports betting, is mercifully free of jargon, but there are certain expressions you will become familiar with if you spread bet on a regular basis.

Arbitrage Cases of arbitrage, or arbs as they are better known, occur when two spread firms take conflicting views on a particular event. IG might quote West Indies runs at 300-320 whereas Cantor might go 330-350. So if you bought at 320 for £5 with IG and sold at 330 for the same amount with Cantor you would guarantee yourself a £50 profit (330-320x5) regardless of what total the West Indies made.

Arbs also exist in conventional fixed-odds betting. If one bookmaker goes 4-6 Roddick, 11-10 Hewitt in a tennis match and another offers 4-7 Hewitt, 5-4 Roddick, you can ensure a profit by having £50 on Hewitt at 11-10 and £50 on Roddick at 5-4.

Some people carve out a living purely by hunting down and exploiting arb situations. They are disliked by bookmakers as they are usually the first to pounce when an arbitrage arises, thus denying those customers who simply want to trade at a price they consider attractive the chance to do so. Then again, it is hard to blame someone for trying to do something which is, in most cases, as simple as picking up money off the pavement.

Obviously life as an arb shark, as these people tend to be known, is not without risks. Using the cricket example, you may have bought with IG only to find that by the time you dial through to Cantor, the price has dropped, although generally the arb shark will still be able to sell at the same level at which he bought or, if the worst comes to the worst, take an occasional loss.

Getting long and getting short Getting long means buying and getting short means selling. Also known as being with and being against.

Bid and offer The bid price is the price at which you can sell (ie, you may hear bookings quoted at 32 bid, which means 32-35) and the offer price is the price at which you can buy.

Thirty-four seven and all variations. This is merely the way traders tend to quote prices. Thus, if you ask for a shirt numbers spread and are told "thirty-four seven" it simply means 34-37.

Upside and downside The potential for winning and the potential for losing. Buy total points in a rugby league match at 63 and the maximum downside is 63.

Feel price A spread based on a market-maker's instinct rather than one derived as a result of thorough research of relevant stats.