Learn How to Read The Odds

“Learn how to read the odds” the first time you glance at the odds can be somewhat daunting. There are a lot of numbers on the board from spreads to money lines, to totals, and it’s somewhat unclear what they all mean. After this handy guide, though, you’ll be an expert.

Betting Odds Explained

The first thing you’ll notice with money line odds is that there is either a positive or negative sign in front of the number. What that sign denotes is how much you’ll win betting on each side. If there’s a positive sign next to the odds, that indicates the amount of money you would win if you bet $100. If the odds on a tennis player said +150, that means that for a $100 bet, you would win $150. Now if there is a minus sign in front of the odds, that is the number that you would have to bet in order to win $100. For example, if a football team was -250, that means you’d have to bet $250 to win $100.

Do I Have To Bet In $100 Amounts?
Although the examples from above are in $100 increments, you don’t actually have to bet those exact amounts. That’s just how the odds are set up so that everyone is on the same page. With a quick glance at the numbers, you can tell who is the favorite, who is the underdog and what type of payout you can expect on each. You’re free to bet $5, $500 or whatever amount fits your budget. If you want to find out the specific betting limits for each option, check the limits at your sportsbook.

The Favorite And The Underdog
When you’re examining the odds, it’s quite easy to figure out who is the favorite and who is the underdog. The favorite is the option with the smallest number on the board and that includes negative numbers. The underdog is the option with the bigger number.

That’s easy to understand because of the payouts. If a team is heavily favored, that means they’re perceived as having a better chance of winning. If that’s the case, then you would win less money betting on them. The opposite is true for the underdog: they’re deemed as having a smaller chance of winning, which means you would get a bigger payout if you bet on them (and they won).

As the numbers grow larger each way – the small numbers get smaller or the positive numbers get larger – that indicates that those options are bigger and bigger favorites or bigger underdogs. That’s particularly relevant when you’re looking at something like the odds to win the Super Bowl. The teams with smaller numbers are deemed as having a better chance of winning and then as the numbers grow larger, those teams are deemed bigger and bigger longshots.

When you’re looking at over under bets, what you need to know is that that’s the combined score of the two teams for a game. In this case, it doesn’t matter who wins the game. All that matters is the final score. For example: let’s say that the New York Yankees are playing the Boston Red Sox and the total is 9.5. It doesn’t matter who wins the game but if the two teams combine for a total score of eight runs, say with a final score of Boston winning 5-3, then the game goes under. Or if the two teams combined for 10 runs – no matter who wins – then the game goes over. So when you’re looking at the odds and you see a total next to the money line or point spread, that tells you the over-under that is set for the game and you have to decide whether it will go over that set amount or under.

Point Spreads focus on a margin of victory between the two teams and again, what you’re looking for is the positive and negative signs. If there is a minus sign next to a team’s spread, that suggest that they are favored and have to win by or cover that amount. If there is a positive sign, that tells you that they are the underdog and they are getting points. For example: let’s say that the New England Patriots are playing the Buffalo Bills and the Patriots are -5.5 and the Bills are therefore +5.5. If you bet the Patriots, they have to win by six points or more to cover. If you bet the Bills, they can lose by five points or less, or they can win the game outright and you would still win your bet.