What Betting Odds Mean

Action: Having a wager on a game.

ATS ('against the [point] spread'): If a team is 5-2 ATS, it means it has a 5-2 record against the point spread, or more commonly referred to simply as the 'spread.'

American odds are slightly different and are based of stakes off a $100 bet. When the odds are with a + sign, they represent the amount of money you would receive back from a bet of $100. When the odds are displayed with a - sign, that represents the amount if money the bettor would have to wager to receive a $100 profit. Betting odds represent the probability of an outcome occurring and the return (profit) you will receive if your bet is a winner. It could be the likelihood of all of your final four betting picks being correct. The probability represented by betting odds is often referred to as the ‘implied probability’. Betting Odds Explained. Having never been explained betting odds can be intimidating. They come in different formats, and sometimes seem to work counter-intuitively. You can trust our team of experts. We have put together all the key information about how odds work and how to read their different formats.

Backdoor cover: When a team scores points at the end of a game to cover the spread unexpectedly.

Bad beat: Losing a bet you should have won. It's especially used when the betting result is decided late in the game to change the side that covers the spread. Also used in poker, such as when a player way ahead in the expected win percentage loses on the river (last card).

Beard: Someone who places a wager for another person (aka 'runner').

Book: Short for sportsbook or bookmaker; person or establishment that takes bets from customers.

Bookie: A person who accepts bets illegally and charges vig.

Buying points: Some bookies or sportsbooks will allow customers to alter the set line and then adjust odds. For example, a bettor might decide he wants to have his team as a 3-point underdog instead of the set line of 2.5. He has then 'bought' half a point, and the odds of his bet will be changed.

Chalk: The favorite in the game. People said to be 'chalk' bettors typically bet the favorite.

Circle game: A game for which the betting limits are lowered, usually because of injuries and/or weather.

Closing line: The final line before the game or event begins.

Consensus pick: Derived from data accumulated from a variety of sportsbooks in PickCenter. The pick, and its percentage, provides insight as to what side the public is taking in a game.

Betting

Cover: The betting result on a point-spread wager. For a favorite to cover, it has to win by more than the spread; an underdog covers by winning outright or losing by less than the spread.

Dime: Jargon for a $1,000 bet. If you bet 'three dimes,' that means a $3,000 wager.

'Dog: Short for underdog.

Dollar: Jargon for a $100 bet. Usually used with bookies; if you bet 'five dollars,' that means a $500 wager.

Edge: An advantage. Sports bettors might feel they have an edge on a book if they think its lines aren't accurate.

Even money: Odds that are considered 50-50. You put up $1 to win $1.

Exotic: Any wager other than a straight bet or parlay; can also be called a 'prop' or 'proposition wager.'

Favorite: The expected straight-up winner in a game or event. Depending on the sport, the favorite will lay either odds or points. For example, in a football game, if a team is a 2.5-point favorite, it will have to win by three points or more to be an ATS winner.

Fixed: A participant in a particular game who alters the result of that game or match to a completely or partially predetermined result. The participant did not play honestly or fairly because of an undue outside influence.

Futures bet: A long-term wager that typically relates to a team's season-long success. Common futures bets include betting a team to win a championship at the outset of a season, or betting whether the team will win or lose more games than a set line at the start of the season.

Halftime bet: A bet made after the first half ended and before the second half begins (football and basketball primarily). The oddsmaker generally starts with half of the game side/total and adjusts based on what happened in the first half.

Handicapper: A person trying to predict the winners of an event.

Handle: The amount of money taken by a book on an event or the total amount of money wagered.

Hedging: Betting the opposing side of your original bet, to either ensure some profit or minimize potential loss. This is typically done with futures bets, but can also be done on individual games with halftime bets or in-game wagering.

High roller: A high-stakes gambler.

Hook: A half-point. If a team is a 7.5-point favorite, it is said to be 'laying seven and a hook.'

In-game wagering: A service offered by books in which bettors can place multiple bets in real time, as the game is occurring.

Juice: The commission the bookie or bookmaker takes. Standard is 10 percent. Also called the 'vig/vigorish.'

Layoff: Money bet by a sportsbook with another sportsbook or bookmaker to reduce that book's liability.

Limit: The maximum bet taken by a book. If a book has a $10,000 limit, it'll take that bet but the book will then decide whether it's going to adjust the line before the bettor can bet again.

Lock: A guaranteed win in the eyes of the person who made the wager.

Middle: When a line moves, a bettor can try to 'middle' a wager and win both sides with minimal risk. Suppose a bettor bets one team as a 2.5-point favorite, then the line moves to 3.5 points. She can then bet the opposite team at 3.5 and hope the favorite wins by three points. She would then win both sides of the bet.

Money line (noun), money-line (modifier): A bet in which your team only needs to win. The point spread is replaced by odds.

Mush: A bettor or gambler who is considered to be bad luck.

Nickel: Jargon for a $500 bet. Usually used with bookies; if you bet 'a nickel,' that means a $500 wager.

Oddsmaker (also linemaker): The person who sets the odds. Some people use it synonymous with 'bookmaker' and often the same person will perform the role at a given book, but it can be separate if the oddsmaker is just setting the lines for the people who will eventually book the bets.

Off the board: When a book or bookie has taken a bet down and is no longer accepting action or wagers on the game. This can happen if there is a late injury or some uncertainty regarding who will be participating.

Over/under: A term that can be used to describe the total combined points in a game (the Ravens-Steelers over/under is 40 points) or the number of games a team will win in a season (the Broncos' over/under win total is 11.5). Also used in prop bets.

Parlay: A wager in which multiple teams are bet, either against the spread or on the money line. For the wager to win (or pay out), all of them must cover/win. The more teams you bet, the greater the odds.

Pick 'em: A game with no favorite or underdog. The point spread is zero, and the winner of the game is also the spread winner.

Point spread (or just 'spread'): The number of points by which the supposed better team is favored over the underdog.

Proposition (or prop) bet: A special or exotic wager that's not normally on the betting board, such as which team will score first or how many yards a player will gain. Sometimes called a 'game within a game.' These are especially popular on major events, with the Super Bowl being the ultimate prop betting event.

Push: When a result lands on the betting number and all wagers are refunded. For example, a 3-point favorite wins by exactly three points. Return on investment (ROI): In PickCenter, ROI is the amount (according to numberFire) that a bettor should expect to get back on a spread pick.

Runner: Someone who makes bets for another person (aka 'beard').

Sharp: A professional, sophisticated sports bettor.

Spread: Short for point spread.

Square: A casual gambler. Someone who typically isn't using sophisticated reasoning to make a wager.

Steam: When a line is moving unusually fast. It can be a result of a group or syndicate of bettors all getting their bets in at the same time. It can also occur when a respected handicapper gives a bet his followers all jump on, or based on people reacting to news such as an injury or weather conditions.

Straight up: The expected outright winner of the money line in an event or game, not contingent on the point spread.

Teaser: Betting multiple teams and adjusting the point spread in all the games in the bettor's favor. All games have to be picked correctly to win the wager.

Total: The perceived expected point, run or goal total in a game. For example, in a football game, if the total is 41 points, bettors can bet 'over' or 'under' on that perceived total.

Tout (service): a person (or group of people) who either sells or gives away picks on games or events.

Underdog: The team that is expected to lose straight up. You can either bet that the team will lose by less than the predicted amount (ATS), or get better than even-money odds that it will win the game outright. For example, if a team is a 2-1 underdog, you can bet $100 that the team will win. If it wins, you win $200 plus receive your original $100 wager back.

Vig/vigorish: The commission the bookie or bookmaker takes; also called the 'juice.' Standard is 10 percent.

Wager: A bet.

Welch: To not pay off a losing bet.

Wiseguy: A professional bettor. Another term for a 'sharp.'

Understanding how to read odds is crucial to betting on sports. This guide will teach you how to read odds for moneyline, total, and spread bets. We will be looking at American, decimal, and fractional odds, which are three different ways of writing the same odds.

What are Odds?

Odds represent the likelihood of an outcome occurring. In sports betting, each team is assigned odds that represent the likelihood of them winning the game. When the odds for two teams are even, meaning 1 to 1, it means that each team is equally as likely to win the game. If Team A is assigned 2 to 1 odds, it means Team B is twice as likely to win. If Team A is assigned 10 to 1 odds, it means Team B is ten times as likely to win.

Odds are typically expressed with a positive or negative sign in front of them and are not written as 2 to 1 or 3 to 1.

How do Plus and Minus Odds Work?

In a betting line between two teams, the team expected to win, or favorite, will have minus or negative odds. This means for every dollar wagered, you will earn less than a dollar if your bet wins. The team expected to lose, or underdog, will have positive or plus odds. This means for every dollar you wager, you will gain more than a dollar if your bet wins.

The table below shows an NHL game where the Boston Bruins are favorited to beat the St. Louis Blues.

TeamOddsAmount WageredTotal Payout
Boston Bruins-150$1$1.67 ($1 bet + .67 cent won)
Boston Bruins-150$10$16.67 ($10 bet + $6.67 won)
St. Louis Blues+130$1$2.30 ($1 bet + $1.30 won)
St. Louis Blues+130$10$23 ($10 bet + $13 won)

American Odds

American odds are what you will see displayed on almost every sportsbook. Just like the metric system, dates, and miles per hour (mph), Americans do things differently when it comes to betting odds. Take a look at this standard slate of betting odds from for an MLB game.

TeamSpread (Runline)MoneylineTotal
Chicago White Sox+1.5 (-115) +140 Over 9.0 (-120)
Los Angeles Angels-1.5 (-105)-120Under 9 (-105)

The first thing you will notice when reading odds will be that:

  • Odds have either a plus or minus in front of them
  • Odds are in terms of 100

Betting Odds are written in terms of 100 as an industry standard. The easiest way to think of the plus and minus signs is as follows. If it is a plus, you will receive more than a $100 payout on a $100 bet. If it is a minus, you will have to bet more than $100 to win a $100 payout.

Thankfully, you can view your potential winnings on each bet before placing it at an online sportsbook. That said, it is beneficial to understand the betting odds.

Moneyline Bets

Definition of bet: A moneyline bet is a wager on which team will win the game outright. Both the favorite and the underdog are given odds to win the game. Read the chart below to get started on reading odds for the following game:

Green Bay Packers (-150) vs. Detroit Lions (+130)

Moneyline OddsHow to Read itWhat it Means
Lions +130Lions plus 130By betting $100 you will win $130 if the Lions win
Packers -150Packers minus 150To win $100, you must wager $150 on the Packers to win

Spread Bets

Definition of bet: A spread bet is a wager on which team will cover the spread or point spread.

How to read spread odds for the following game: Los Angeles Lakers +5 (-110) vs. Houston Rockets -5 (-110)

Spread OddsHow to Read itWhat it Means
Lakers + 5 (-110)Lakers plus 5 points at minus 110 oddsThe Lakers must win the game, or lose by less than 5 for you to win your bet
Rockets -5 (-110)Rockets minus 5 points at minus 110 oddsThe Rockets must win the game by more than 5 points for you to win your bet. A tie is a push, meaning you don't win or lose.

Total (Over/Under) Bets

What Do Football Betting Odds Mean

Definition of bet: A total bet focuses on how many points are scored, regardless of who wins the game. After a total point score has been set, bettors can wager on whether the actual score of the game will be over or under the set point score.

How to read over/under odds for the following game:

New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox Over 7 (-115) Under 7 (-110)

Total OddsHow to Read it
Over 7 (-115)In order to win $100, you must bet $115 on the overall combined run score to be higher than 7
Under 7 (-110)In order to win $100, you must wager $110 on the total combined run score to be less than 7

Keep in mind for both spreads and totals that if the game ends in a draw for the bet (Yankees 4, Red Sox 3), then you get your bet back but do not win or lose any additional money.

Fractional Odds

Fractional odds are used more commonly in parts of Europe, as well as in horseracing. To calculate fractional odds, you have to do some mental division or enter your desired amount and see what the sportsbook shows as your payout! Here are some odds for a fictitious horse race and how you go about reading them.

Horse NameOddsHow to Read itYour BetYou Win
Laser Focus15/1Fifteen to one$10$150
American Pride7/2Seven to two$10$35 (10 x 3.5)
Green Eggs3/5Three to five$10$6 (10 x .6)

In this race, where we only have three horses, you can see Laser Focus is the underdog, while Green Eggs (no ham) is the favorite. A lot of sportsbooks offer a fractional view if you prefer it to the American odds.

Decimal Odds

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. To calculate decimal odds, you can use the following equation.

Return = Initial Wager x Decimal Value

Example: Let’s say the Arizona Diamondbacks 2.00 are playing the Chicago Cubs 1.90

TeamYour BetYour ReturnYour Profit
Arizona 2.00$1$2$1
Chicago 1.90$10$19.09$9.09

Free online poker ipad. A lot of sportsbooks offer a decimal view if you prefer it to the American odds.

In conclusion, American odds are almost always displayed at any United States sportsbook, while fractional and decimal odds are almost always displayed at any sportsbook outside of the United States. Check out our Guides Page to see where sports betting stands in your state!

Why do Odds Matter in Sports Betting?

The odds are essential when selecting a sportsbook because they affect your money. If you choose a sportsbook with poor odds, you will end up wasting money every time you place a bet. Let’s say you bet $10 on the Vikings moneyline at -200 at one sportsbook. If you win your bet, you pocket $5. If you went line-shopping and found the same bet for -175 at another sportsbook, you would pocket $6, $1 more. Understanding betting odds allows you to decipher between good and bad odds.

Look at the odds below offered on five games from the 2019 NFL Season. Odds from five different sportsbooks are shown. You'll notice each sportsbook offers different odds for each game. If you were betting on these games, you would be able to find the best odds for your desired bets. Using this strategy of line shopping will allow you to save money while betting on games.

How to Use Odds to Calculate Implied Probability

Odds can be used to calculate the implied probability of a team winning or losing a game. You can use a simple math equation to understand what the sportsbook thinks the probability of each team winning is. For positive odds, probability = 100/(odds + 100). For negative odds, probability = odds/(odds – 100).


TeamOddsImplied Odds of WinningImplied Percentage
Miami Heat+130100/(130 + 100) = .434743.47%
Chicago Bulls-110-110/(-110 - 100) = .523852.38%

If you think the Chicago Bulls have a 70% chance of winning, then betting on them would be considered a smart bet.

The process is simple, but If you don’t feel like doing the math, use ESPN’s gamecast preview: preview or Action Network’s odds calculator.

Odds FAQ

What does a negative point spread mean?

In a professional sports matchup a point spread is given to each team for sports betting purposes. When a negative point spread is given to a team, it means they are favorited to win the game. When a positive point spread is given to a team, it means they are not expected to win the game.For example, if the Kansas City Chiefs are minus three (-3) against the Los Angeles Rams (+3), then it is expected that the Kansas City Chiefs will win the game and that Los Angeles will lose.

What do odds of +200 mean?

Odds of +200 mean 2 to 1. For every $1 wagered on a team with +200 odds $2 will be paid out. Odds of +200 are greater are offered on teams that are NOT expected to win a game.

What Does +400 Betting Odds Mean

How do parlay odds work?

A parlay bet is a group of spread, moneyline, or total bets combined into one bet to increase the payout odds. In order for the parlay to win, each separate bet has to win. Parlay odds offer bigger payouts than normal odds because they are riskier since each individual bet has to win.

Here is an example of a standard parlay payout table based on true odds. What this means is exact payouts are shown for wagers at -110 odds, where a bet of $110 wins you $100.


Parlay SizePayouts
2-Team2.645/1
3-Team5.958/1
4-Team12.283/1
5-Team24.359/1
6-Team2.645/1
7-Team91.424/1
8-Team175.446/1
9-Team335.852/1
10-Team642.082/1
11-Team1226.701/1
12-Team2342.793/1

Methodology

For the BettingBuck.com annual best online sportsbooks review published in 2020, a total of 2,300 data points were collected over six months and used to score sportsbooks. Additionally, odds data was collected for each sportsbook on over 1,400 bets to give each sportsbook a comparative odds ranking.

Sports betting sites were scored across seven core categories to computer an overall rating: total number of sports and bets offered, odds, live betting features, mobile apps, educational resources, ease of use, and current bonuses.


Betting Odds -2.5 Means What

Learn more about how we test.