In online sports betting, a bettor is said to be taking the points when they bet an underdog in a point spread market.
This is because of the inherent relationship between point-spread favorites and point-spread underdogs.
A favorite must win by a specific, predetermined margin – a point spread – in order to win and cover.
The underdog receives the benefit of that margin in its competition. So if an 8-point underdog loses by six, they are said to have covered the point spread margin, even if they lost the game on the field.
Bettors who take the points are electing to bet on the side that receives the benefit of the points, rather than try to win by margin.
Example of Take the Points
Georgia played Ohio State in the 2022 College Football Playoff semifinals, and the Bulldogs spent most of December as a 7-point favorite.
Georgia won an instant classic 42-41. The Bulldogs won the game on the field, but bettors who took the seven points with Ohio State ultimately covered the spread because the Buckeyes’ 1-point loss was inside of their 7-point spread margin.
Here’s another example, from the NBA. When the Lakers played the Pacers in the inaugural In-Season Tournament Championship, Los Angeles was a 3.5-point favorite.
The Lakers won 123-109. Because the Lakers won by 14, they easily covered the 3.5-point spread.
That means bettors who took the points with Indiana lost, while Lakers bettors won by the 3.5-point margin they needed.