If you’re not familiar with sports betting, your first look at how oddsmakers list the different kinds of odds can be intimidating. Here, we’ll explain the three kinds of ways that odds are written: American, fractional and decimal. Let’s get started.
If you’re looking at number like -120, +240, or another three-digit number with a plus or minus (+/-) in front of it, those are called American odds. They’re the most commonly used, and they’ll be the style we’ll be discussing most in this guide to understanding how to read odds.
In the example above, the Edmonton Oilers and the Ottawa Senators game has the Oilers priced as -215 favourites. The Senators are +180 underdogs. We’ll take a closer look at how these odds are read below when we explain the moneyline.
Fractional odds are not as commonly used in North America, with one exception: horse racing. The calculation for working out how much money you can win – compared to your bet – is shown like this: 9/1. The number on the left (9) is how much you will win. The number on the right is how much you need to bet.
In our example above, you can see a futures bet on a horse winning the Triple Crown in 2021. If you have a good feeling about Essential Quality, who at this time had 40/1 odds to win it all, your $1 bet would earn you $41, including your original wager. Let’s say you put $25 on Essential Quality and he won the Triple Crown. Your payout would be $1,025, including your original bet.
Decimals odds are used more commonly in parts of Europe. When using decimal odds, the underdog has the higher of the two numbers, while the favorite has the lower of the two. In order to figure out how much money your winning bet will earn you, you must multiply your wager by the decimal number shown and that total is how much you’ll win.
In our example above, Leicester City, priced at 3.28, are playing Liverpool FC, priced at 1.97. Leicester City, with the higher number, is the underdog. A $10 bet on Leicester City would result in a $32.82 payout (including your original wager) if they were to win the match. The same $10 bet on the favourite – Liverpool FC – would result in a win of $19.71 (including your original bet). If you wagered that the match would result in a draw, and it did, your $10 bet would earn you a payout of $35.03, including your initial $10 wager.
To calculate decimal from American odds, you divide the moneyline odd by 100, and then add 1. For calculating negative American odds to the decimal odds, you’d divide 100 by the negative moneyline odd, and then add 1.
At Sports Interaction, you can select whichever style of odds you’re most comfortable with.
What Do the Plus (+) and Minus (-) Signs Mean?
Before we get into the different kinds of bets you can make, it’s important that you understand what the very commonly used symbols stand for in sports betting. Used in both moneyline and point spread betting, the plus and the minus sign are often seen before a number. Those symbols indicate two things: if you’re betting on the favorite or the underdog, and what your potential payout could be with a winning bet. Here’s an example:
San Francisco 49ers -200
New York Giants +240
The minus sign (-) in front of the number tells you that it’s the favorite, and the number beside it tells you how much you’d need to wager in order to win $100. In the example above, you’d need to bet $200 on the 49ers to win $100.
If you see a plus sign (+) in front of the number, that indicates that it’s the underdog, and again, the number after it indicates how much you’d win with a $100 bet. If you bet $100 on the Giants to win, and they did, you’d win $240.
How to Read the Moneyline
A moneyline bet is the most simple of all sports bets, and it’s the type of bet we described above. You’re betting on which team will win the game. As we learned above, the favorite will have negative (-) odds, while the underdog will have positive (+) odds.
Green Bay Packers -240
Seattle Seahawks +280
In this example, the Packers are priced at -240, meaning that you’ll need to wager $240 for a return of $100 on them. The underdogs in our example are the Seahawks, who are priced at +280. The underdog number (280) in our example tells you how much you’d win from a $100 bet.
How to Read Point Spreads
What is a point spread? It is the number of points by which a favoured team is expected to beat the underdog. This makes betting a lot more interesting because you can wager on the team that loses the game and still win the bet. Let’s take a look at an example.
Miami Dolphins vs. New York Giants
In this example, we have our favorite and our underdog. The Dolphins are the favorites, which is shown by the (–) value in front of the 6. The underdog is represented by the (+) value. The 6 point value is how many points either team could win, or lose by. If you think the Dolphins will win by MORE than 6 points, then you’d bet on the favorite in this case, meaning that they have to win by 7 or more points in order for you to win your bet.
What if you think the underdog Giants can win the game or lose by less than 5 points? Then that’s where you’ll want to place your wager. If the final score is Dolphins 21, Giants 17 – the bet on the +6 point spread is a winning bet if you bet on the Giants.
If the Dolphins win the game by exactly 6 points, then it’s called a “push” and your bet would be refunded.
Point Spread Tie Rules (Push)
To avoid a push, you’ll see that sportsbooks will add a half-point (.5) to their spread number. Let’s take another look at our game from above with the half point added.
In this case, if you bet on the Dolphins to win, and they win by 7, you win. If they win by 6, you lose. If the Giants lose by 7 points, you lose your bet. If they lose by 6 points, you’ll win.
How to Read Totals or Over/Under Odds
Over/Under bets are on what the combined score of a game will be between two teams. You’re not betting on who will win the game, just on that final (or halftime) score. Let’s look at an example:
In our above example, the total for the Raptors vs. Bucks game is listed at 236.0 – which means the sportsbook has set the potential final score of 236 points total in the game, and you can bet on whether you think the total score will be Over 236 point, or Under 236 points. If the final score is Raptors 110, Bucks 120, the total score of the game is 230, which is Under the listed total.
In the above example, a game between the Flames and the Maple Leafs has listed the Over/Under – shown with two numbers beside an “O” and a “U.” Those numbers tell you the number of goals that differentiates between the over and the under. You can either bet that the total goals scored will be over 6.5 or under 6.5.
In this case, the over/under is set to 6.5; meaning that in order to win the Over, you will need the total accumulative score for the game to be 7 or more goals. If you bet on the Under, then the total score must be 6 or less. The .5 in the Over/Under example is used to avoid a “push” which we described when explaining the point spread.