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The spread is the number of points that the sportsbook post to determine the favorite of each game. For example, when you open your sportsbook app of choice and see the Cowboys as 7 point favorites this weekend versus the Giants, you will see Cowboys -7 and Giants +7. The sportsbook is determining that the Cowboys are favored in this game to win by a touchdown. This means that if you wager on the Cowboys, they must win by more than 7 points in order to win your bet. If you were to wager on the Giants in this hypothetical game, it would mean that they would need to not lose by more than 7 points in order for you to win your wager. When looking at the point spread each week, you will also notice a lot of 1/2 numbers. As with our example above, you may see the spread is set at Cowboys favored by 7-1/2 point (Cowboys +7.5). This helps the sportsbook avoid a ‘push’, or tie. In this example, the Cowboys would have to win by at least 8 points since there are no 1/2 points in football games.
A point spread bet has three potential outcomes: win, loss, or push. If bettors choose correctly and win, a sportsbook will pay the bettor in full amount based on the “price” of the wager, which is most commonly -110. That means a bet for $110 would win $100, or $11 would win $10, and so on. Alternatively, a “push” — when the game result falls exactly on the point spread margin — results in a “voided” or “canceled” bet and means that bettors get their original wagers returned. Obviously, a loss is a loss. A game that’s listed as “even” or a pick ’em bet means two teams are viewed as so close in terms of level of play that the sportsbook decides to price them as equally likely to win or lose. In such a case, there is effectively no spread or projected margin.
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