Part 2: Understanding The Odds

If you are new to sports betting then in order to play you need to know what the numbers mean. Below we discuss the four basic betting formats and how to read them.

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Point Spreads
Points spreads are most prevalent in American football and basketball. The numbers assigned to each team are determined by the oddsmakers and are moved either in the direction of the favorite or the underdog based on the amount of betting which occurs on each.
If the Carolina Panthers are favored by 7 points over the Buffalo Bills then the Bills will get a 7-point head start. In this example the Panthers would have to defeat the Bills by more than seven points to "cover the spread". If Carolina wins by exactly seven points the game is a tie or what is known as a "push". If the Bills lose by less than seven or win the game outright that would be a "cover" by Buffalo.

Money Lines
Money lines are the alternative to point spreads and are used in all the major sports. Instead of giving or getting points, depending upon if you bet the favorite or the underdog, no points are necessary when you are betting on the money line. The favorite will always cost the bettor additional money while the underdog will always bring a higher return than the base amount wagered. How high a return depends on how big an underdog.

Below we will discuss the three ways that money lines are expressed whether it be fractional, American or decimal odds.

I. Fractional Odds
Fractional odds are simply those lines dealt by the oddsmakers that are indeed fractions. Understand that these are money lines and not point spreads. In the example below you will find the following:
San Francisco Giants 1/3 vs. Colorado Rockies 5/2
The number on the left side of the fraction is the return while the number on the right is what must be wagered in order to earn that return. In this example the San Francisco Giants are a big favorite (or the "chalk") which means you will win $1 for every $3 you bet. However, the Colorado Rockies are the underdog and in this example you will win $5 for every $2 you bet.

II. American Odds
American odds are always predicated on a $100 bet. If the New York Mets are -150 over the Philadelphia Phillies then the underdog Phillies would be getting +140. In this example you would need to wager $150 to win $100 on the Mets or $100 to win $140 on the underdog Phillies. Just remember in American odds the favorite always lists what you need to bet to win $100 while the underdog tell you what you will receive on a base bet of $100.

III. Decimal Odds
Decimal Odds are most common in European sportsbooks and always include your initial bet whereas the other two money lines only denote what you will win on your wager, not including your initial wager in the final payout.
In a soccer match between Liverpool and Manchester United for instance, let's assume Liverpool is the favorite and Manchester United is the underdog. The oddsmakers could deal the line on this game in the following manner.
Liverpool 2.0 which means if you bet $10 on Liverpool you would get back your initial bet of $10 plus another $10 ($10 x 2.0 = $20).
Manchester United 3.5 which means if you bet $10 on Manchester United you would get back your initial bet of $10 plus another $25 ($10 x 3.5 = $35).
Draw 1.50 which means if you bet $10 on a draw (or tie game) you would get back your initial bet of $10 plus another $5 ($10 x 1.5 = $15).


Continue on to Another Lesson:

Part 1: Types of Sports Bets

Part 2: Understanding the Odds

Part 3: Opening Your First Account

Part 4: Sportsbook Bonuses