# How do sports betting spreads work?

Last Updated: Jun 7, 2024
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Fact Checked By: Hunter Hewitt

Sports betting spreads, also referred to as lines, are used to even the odds between two unevenly matched teams.

Bookmakers set a spread with the hopes of getting equal action on both sides of a game. For example, if the Colts are a "-3" point home favorite against the visiting Texans on a sports betting app, site or retail sportsbook, the 3 points is the spread

If you want to bet the Colts on the spread, it would mean the Colts need to win by at least four points for you to win the bet. If the Colts win by two points, you would lose. If they win by exactly three, that is referred to as a "push" and the amount that you wagered is refunded.

The spread at -3 suggests the teams are fairly equal and maybe in this case, the Colts are only -3 because they are playing at home. Bookmakers see these teams as equal and expect to receive fairly even money from bettors. If these teams were widely considered equal and bookmakers put the spread at -10, they wouldn't get equal money as Texans +10 would likely be pounded by bettors.

In a spread bet, the odds are usually set at -110 on both sides, depending on the sportsbook and state. That means whether you bet the Colts -3 or Texans +3, you'll win the same amount of money if you win the bet. At -110, you would have to wager \$110 to win \$100.

If you like the Colts to win but think three points is a tricky number, a moneyline bet could be made on the winning team with no points in the equation. In the above example, a Colts moneyline bet doesn't have any other requirements other than they win the game. The difference is that their odds may be set at -140 to win. On the other end, the Texans could be +120 to win. At -140, you would have to wager \$140 to win \$100. At +120, you could win \$120 by risking \$100, making the moneyline bet the better, more profitable bet if you are confident that the Texans are going to win the game outright.

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