Sports Betting Odds Explained
If you are just now diving into the ocean of odds, wager types, money lines, parlays, teasers, etc… you might be a little wary. I remember when I was just getting curious about legal sports betting, hearing my friends throw around terms like “point spread” and straight wager scared the crap out of me. I thought I would never learn the vernacular or talk the talk. I have now been wagering on my favorite games for over ten years, and am going to give you the cheat sheet that I wish I had when I was a fledgling.
You will soon see that there isn’t as much to learn as you might’ve thought, and that grasping a few key elements will open up the world of legal sports betting in a whole new way. After reading this you will have a working knowledge of sports betting odds, to the point where you will be able to walk into a casino or bar and sound like a pro.
Regular Sports Betting Odds Explained
There are two general types of sports betting odds that you will find when you walk in to a casino or log on to a legal online sportsbook. These are going to be called regular and exotic odds. We will go over the regular odds first because they are the initial bets most people starting out in legal sports betting make.
The first, and simplest type of wager will be on a Moneyline. This is simply a bet on who will be the outright winner of a game or event, without looking to the point spread, which we will cover next. You have probably seen Moneyline odds before, they look like two sets of numbers with plus and minus signs next to them.
The important thing to remember, and something that tripped me up when I first learnt about Moneylines, is that the negative number represents the favorite, and the positive number represents the underdog. Usually, you would equate a negative with a prospective loser, and a positive with a prospective winner, but with these odds they are switched. For instance, in an NFL game where the Seattle Seahawks are favorites against the Dallas Cowboys, the odds would look something like this:
- Cowboys + 180
- Seahawks – 220
The positive number represents how much you will win if you bet $100, and the negative number represents how much you must bet in or der to win $100. It’s as simple as that.
Next, we will look at the most common way to bet, which is the point spread. The point spread is basically a handicap that the bookmaker gives to the underdog in order to even out the odds. In this way, if you bet on the favorite, they must win by a certain number of points (cover the spread) in order for you to win the bet.
Again, let’s say the Seahawks are the favorite against the Cowboys. The bookmakers might give the Cowboys a five point bonus. On the sportsbook this would look like Cowboys +5, or Seahawks -5. Since this automatically adds 5 points to the Cowboys, the Seahawks must win by 6 or more points to cover the spread.
Using the Moneyline, you can figure out how much you need to bet to win on a point spread. The negative number will represent how much you must bet to win $100, and the positive number represents how much you will win if you bet $100. The Moneyline odds are not always listed, as the point spread gives enough information in order to bet.
The final term to understand for regular odds is the over/under, or totals. These are the combined scores of both teams in a game or event. Instead of putting your money on who will win, you will bet on whether the combined score of the game will go over or under the amount listed by the bookmaker. If the final score is listed at 44, the Seahawks and the Cowboys must have a combined total of points be higher to win. If the numbers tie it is called a push, and your money will be refunded.
Exotic Sports Betting Odds Explained
Now that you understand the most usual ways to bet, we can dive in to the more complicated odds types. These generally take a little more math to figure out, but can also be infinitely more profitable. I suggest making at least a few regular wagers before jumping into the world of exotic odds.
A parlay is a wagering term you will hear quite frequently. Simply put, a parlay is multiple bets linked together. In order to win, all of the bets must come out in your favor. While one loss will ruin the parlay, the multiple bets can drastically increase your potential payout.
Say the Seahawks are playing the Cowboys as the same time the Patriots are playing the Giants. Instead of placing two straight bets, you could place a parlay. If both of your teams cover the spread, you stand to win much more.
A teaser bet will take some of the risk out of a parlay. To place a teaser wager, you can combine two to ten football or basketball bets and adjust the point spread in your favor in order to up your chances of winning. This does however make for a lower payout amount.
A pleaser on the other hand will reduce your chances of winning in exchange for a larger payout. They take the spread on a parlay and subtract points in order to make it harder for you to win. The payouts can be gigantic for pleasers, but only daredevils and insiders usually pursue them because the odds of winning are quite slim.
You will find plenty of other odds such as futures, which is simply betting on an aspect of an upcoming game or event. For now, you should be well suited to start exploring the sportsbook and placing some bets. There are always more complicated areas to look in to, but you want to place a number of “regular” bets before you start delving in to the deep end.
American, Fractional, And Decimal Odds Explained
The last thing to understand is how the odds are laid out in sportsbooks. For the most part, you will be using American odds. These are simply Moneylines, which you learned about earlier. They call them American odds because they are preferred by most American bookmakers. The odds use either a positive or a negative number. The negative represents the favorite, while the number represents how much you will have to risk to win $100. The positive represents the underdog, and the number shows how much you will win if you bet $100.
Fractional odds tend to show up on futures bets and are also popular in the UK and Australia. Yo will see a fractional number such as 5/1. Meaning five-to-one odds. This simply means that you will stand to win $5 for every $1 that you bet. If the odds are 1/1, then you will win the exact amount that you bet. As you can guess, some fractional odds mean that you will have to do some math in your head. Luckily, most legal sports betting establishments and sites have odds calculators that do it for you.
Decimal odds are very rare, and simply show your total payout, instead of just your profit. To calculate your decimal odds, convert the fractional odds to a decimal, and then add one. For example, 1/4 converted to decimal odds is 1.25.
Now that you have a grasp on the vernacular of the sportsbook, it is time to start wagering. There are plenty of legal online sportsbooks out there that accept players from all 50 states. I recommend checking out any of the ones that we have linked to. These sites are the top-tier sportsbooks on the web, and millions of American sports fans use them every day.