What is ATS in Betting? – Complete ATS Betting Guide 2023

Sports betting is a complex world with many different terms, and one of the most frequently used terms is “ATS”. If you’re new to betting, you may be wondering, “What is ATS in betting?”

This guide is designed to provide you with a clear understanding of the meaning of ATS in betting by breaking it down into simple, easy-to-understand terms. We’ll also provide examples to help you better grasp this betting type. By the end of this guide, you’ll know what ATS means in betting, how it works, and whether it’s a strategy that may work for you.

What does ATS mean in Betting?

If you want to understand what ATS means in betting, it’s important to first grasp the concept of the spread. The spread, also known as the point spread or betting line, is a commonly used term in sports betting that represents the difference in points scored by opposing teams.

Bookmakers set an estimated margin of victory, and sports bettors attempt to predict whether the margin of victory will be larger or smaller than this estimate. When a team is said to be “against the spread,” it means they are being handicapped by the bookmakers to even out the betting. In other words, the underdog team has a point advantage, and the favorite team has a point deficit, in order to balance the odds for both teams.

An ATS Betting Example

Let’s take a look at an example of NBA betting against the spread to illustrate this better:

  • Hawks are listed as +2
  • Celtics are listed as -2

In this example, the Celtics are the favorites, which is identified by the minus sign. The number two signifies that the margin of victory has been set at two points. This means the Celtics are predicted to win by two points, while the Hawks are predicted to lose by two points. You may have heard sports bettors say something like “cover the spread,” which is essentially a term to describe being successful with a spread bet.

So, in the example of NBA picks against the spread, if the Celtics win by three points or more, they have covered the spread. If the Celtics only win by one point, they would not cover the spread, but the Hawks would cover the spread. This is because the Hawks would have lost by less than two points.

What is Against the Spread Betting?

Now that you know what the spread is in betting, you can now begin to know the answer to “what is ATS in betting?” Essentially, betting against the spread means you are simply betting on the underdog points spread. To win, the underdog will have to lose by less than the given point spread, or win the game outright.

As an example of NFL betting against the spread, let’s say that the Dallas Cowboys (-6) go against the New England Patriots (+6). To bet against the spread here, you would bet on the New England Patriots at +6.

In order to be successful, the New England Patriots must either win the game completely or lose by less than six points. If the final score was to be exactly six points, this is called a push. In this case, you do not win or lose, and your original wager is refunded.

what is ats betting


Betting With the Spread vs. Betting Against the Spread

When it comes to deciding whether to bet on the spread or against it, it’s important to understand how each method works and which approach is best for you. Betting on the spread means backing the favored team to win by a greater margin than what the spread indicates. This strategy is appropriate if you have a strong conviction that the favorite will significantly outperform the underdog.

To make this decision, you should assess the favored team’s strengths and recent track record and check the odds to determine if the potential gain justifies the potential risks. On the other hand, betting against the spread means backing the underdog to either win or lose by a smaller margin than the spread predicts.

This tactic is suitable if you think the underdog has been underestimated or if the favored team is unlikely to secure a sizable victory. When making this decision, take into account the underdog’s capabilities, the specific matchup between the teams, and the odds to assess the probability of the underdog covering the spread.

Ultimately, whether to bet with or against the spread will depend on your analysis of the teams, their expected performance, and the balance between potential risks and rewards. By carefully considering these factors, you can make better-informed betting decisions and choose the most appropriate approach for different situations.


Now that you know the answer to “what is ATS in betting,” it’s helpful to compare this betting type with other popular options to determine the right approach for various betting scenarios. One of the most common bet types, alongside spread betting, is straight-up betting. Also known as SU, straight-up bets involve simply choosing the outright winner of the game.

In this case, the point spread is irrelevant. Straight-up bets are generally considered less risky than against the spread bets since they only require you to predict the winner, regardless of the score. However, lower risk also means lower reward. The odds for straight-up bets are typically lower, resulting in smaller payouts.

On the other hand, betting against the spread requires accurate predictions of both the winner and whether the spread will be covered, making it riskier. Due to the increased risk, the odds are higher, which translates to potentially much larger payouts compared to straight-up bets.

How do you Bet Against the Spread?

It’s not difficult to bet against the spread, but it is a riskier betting strategy, and you definitely shouldn’t go in blind. Follow these steps, and you’ll be well on your way to making well-informed ATS bets.

1. Understand the Point Spread

Before you place a bet, you first need to familiarize yourself with the point spread, and make sure that you fully understand what it means. The spread is set by bookmakers to level the playing field between the favorite and the underdog. For example, consider a game with the following point spread:

  • Los Angeles Lakers -6
  • Chicago Bulls: +6

2. Analyze the Matchup

You can easily tell which team is the favorite because it will be represented by a minus sign. On the other hand, the underdog is represented by a plus sign. So in the example above, the Los Angeles Lakers are the favorites to win the match up. Once you know which team is the favorite and which is the underdog, you can then analyze the matchup further.

It’s best practice to research the teams’ recent performance, injuries, and any other relevant factors that could impact the outcomes of the game. This information, along with expert picks, can be found at leading sportsbooks like BetUS and will help you make an informed decision on which team is more likely to cover the spread.

ats betting tips


3. Place Your Bet

To bet against the spread, you’ll be betting on the underdog to either win the game outright or lose by fewer points than the given spread. Using the previous example, if you bet on Chicago Bulls, they must either win the game outright or lose by six points or less for the points spread to be covered and your bet to be successful.

4. Monitor the Game and Collect any Winnings

If the underdog covers the spread, you win the bet. Keep in mind that if the point difference matches the spread exactly, the bet is considered a push, and your original wager is refunded.

By understanding the point spread, identifying the favorite and the underdog, analyzing the matchup, and placing your bet, you can maximize your chances of success when betting against the spread.

What can Change a Point Spread?

As is the case with other betting options like moneylines and props, point spreads are not set in stone and can change before a game begins. There are many factors that can change a point spread, causing it to shift either in favor of or against a particular team.

For example, something that often changes a point spread is the status of key players. If a star player is unexpectedly injured, suspended, or unable to participate in a game for any reason, this can greatly impact the perceived strength of a team. As a result, bookmakers may adjust the point spread to reflect the team’s new situation.

Heavy betting action on one side of the spread can cause bookmakers to adjust the spread to balance the amount of money being wagered on both teams. This is done to minimize their risk and ensure that they still make a profit, regardless of the outcome.

Basically, if you see that the numbers in a points spread are beginning to change to a lower number, that signifies that most of the money is being placed on the underdog. On the other hand, if you see that the numbers in a point spread bet getting higher over time, then it shows that most of the money is being placed on the favorite.

How to Work Out what Your Payout Will be Against the Spread

When betting against the spread, your payout is determined by the odds associated with each team. To provide a clearer picture, let’s examine a college football picks against the spread example:

  • Ohio State -6.5 (-115)
  • Alabama +6.5 (-105)

Sportsbooks set point spread lines like this primarily to level the playing field between two teams and offer appealing odds for bettors. In this example, the point spread is set at 6.5, resulting in -115 odds for Ohio State and -105 odds for Alabama.

Consequently, ATS betting odds comprise two main components: the point spread itself (+6.5 or -6.5 in this case) and the moneyline odds (-115 and -105 for this example). Generally, point spread odds are around -110 and are typically the same for both teams.

what is ats


However, in this example of -115 and -105, the sportsbook would have adjusted the odds slightly to encourage more bets on Alabama. With these odds, the potential payouts differ depending on which team you wager on.

If you bet $115 on Ohio State to cover the spread and the final score is 25-14 in favor of Ohio State, they will have covered the spread by winning by more than 6.5 points, and you will win the bet. This results in a payout of $215 (at odds of -115), yielding a $100 profit.

Alternatively, if you wager $105 on Alabama to cover the spread and Ohio wins by 24 points to 20, Ohio State would fail to cover the spread as a 6.5-point favorite. Consequently, Alabama would cover the spread, and you would win $205, equating to a $100 profit.

Which Sports Can You Bet Against the Spread?

You’ll find plenty of sports where betting against the spread is an option, but basketball and football take the cake when it comes to popularity. Fans of NBA picks and NFL picks against the spread love these types of bets because these high-scoring games make it more straightforward to predict which team will cover the spread.

You can, by all means, bet against the spread on pretty much all sports with two competing teams, but you need to be mindful of sports that are less known for their high scores. Take baseball, for example – you won’t often see a ton of runs in a single game. And as for soccer, you won’t usually witness more than a handful of goals per game.

ATS Betting Strategies

Understanding what ATS means in betting is an important foundation, but to increase your chances of success, it’s crucial to have a well-rounded approach. As with any other bet type, against the spread betting requires a balance of research, knowledge, and strategy. Here are some tips to help you maximize your ATS betting experience:

Analyze the ATS Records

When a team covers the spread, they earn a win “against the spread.” As the season progresses, each team accumulates an ATS record. For example, if the Los Angeles Lakers cover the spread on the first five games of the season, they will have a record of 5-0 ATS.

This indicates that they’ve successfully covered the spread five times and haven’t failed to do so yet. Examining these statistics can give you valuable insights into teams and their frequency of covering the spread, ultimately helping you make well-informed betting decisions.

Consider a Contrarian Approach

Going against popular opinion can be beneficial in ATS betting, as public sentiment can sometimes create inflated lines that favor the underdog. By adopting a contrarian mindset, you may find value in bets that are overlooked by the majority.

Stay Informed

It’s important to stay informed and well up to date with news updates, injuries, and the current form of the different teams that you’re looking to bet on. A star player suffering an injury can have a huge impact on the potential score, and so can new signings.

Details like this can sometimes be the difference between getting an extra point advantage, which can also be the difference between covering and not covering the spread. So, follow team news of the event you intend to wager on to keep on top of every change, and be sure to be informed about recent performances and statistics because these can provide valuable insights into the right bets to make.

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Harrison is a content writer from the UK. He has written on a wide variety of topics, including cryptocurrency and e-commerce, but his specialty is online gambling – an industry that he is passionate about and experienced in. He has written hundreds of reviews for industry-leading websites, ranging from game and bonus reviews to reviews of online casino and sports betting sites themselves. In addition to reviews, he also enjoys writing in-depth gambling guides designed to help take your iGaming experience to the next level.