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Read and understand sports betting odds

The Basics
4 Min
Basic
reading odds

Learning to Read odds is quick and simple! Let's get to it!

Before we can defy the odds, we must define them. Let’s give it a try.

The best part about odds is that they are just numbers. An underdog can be priced at +200 on the moneyline in the NFL and NBA, the same way a
favorite might come in at -200. However, context matters here.
The +200 wager is considered to be “plus money,” meaning any initial wager amount would at least pay that in return.

For example, if the New York Yankees are +200, an initial stake of $100 would pay an additional $200 in that scenario.

Plus money starts at +100 and in that case represents a chance to double your money.

If there is a minus symbol, that represents a favorite, or the more likely side to win in the eyes of the oddsmakers.
-110 is the market standard for spread betting in the NFL and NBA, or run line betting in MLB. In the
same scenario as before, the Yankees might be +2.5 runs on the run line, meaning they must win the
game, or lose by two runs or less. That price could be -110 on that bet and your $100 wager would only
pay $90.91 in this case. Between the two, the run line is the less risky bet, which is why betting the
Yankees to win outright would have a bigger payout.


As we look through the odds, they tell us a story about each game, as the sportsbooks like FanDuel,
DraftKings, BetMGM, Caesars, and every other one unveil the chance they believe each team or player
has to win the bet. You can calculate the implied probability like this for the favorites:
Odds divided by (Odds + 100) x 100 = Implied Probability
Or like this for underdogs:
100 divided by (Odds + 100) x 100 = Implied Probability
Let’s take a look at our earlier example. The -200 favorite would calculate like this:
200/(200 + 100) x 100
200/300 x 100
0.667 x 100 = 66.7%
Therefore the sportsbooks are telling us they project the -200 favorite to win 66.7% of the time, giving
the underdog only a 33.3% chance. Here are some quick, rapid-fire examples.

What does +14 on the spread mean?
In this case, depending on which side you are betting, the underdog would have to win outright or lose
by 13 points or less. However, the lack of the .5 means that if they lost by 14 exactly, the bet settles as a
“push”, meaning you will get your money back.

What does a 3.5 spread mean?
Like the previous example, the same rules apply, except in this case, there is no potential for a push. The
presence of the .5 means that you will win or lose, with no in between.

Thankfully for your sake, and ours, Bet Basics is a one stop shop for all things odds and offerings from the
sportsbooks. We compare the odds and compile them into a nice list, for your convenience. Much like
some great barbecue in the south, it’s important to not leave any meat on the bone. You wouldn’t
willingly pay more for the same product if it was cheaper elsewhere, right? So why settle in this case?
Shop around and find the best odds, using our odds comparison tools. From there you can find our tips,
calculations, and projections to assist in all your betting needs. Now that we can read the odds, let’s start
using that new skill to our advantage.

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