How do Sports Betting Odds/Lines Work?

How Does Sports Betting Work

Sports betting is an exciting pastime activity that many sports fans like to participate in to make some cash. This type of gambling should not be seen as a way of getting rich quickly because you might end up disappointed when the outcome is undesirable. 

If you want to be a professional bettor, who bets responsibly, you should understand that betting is not a means of making a living, an exciting hobby that allows you to make or lose some cash. If you want to start betting on sports, I bet that one of the questions you keep asking yourself is “how does sports betting work?” To answer this question, here is a guide on what odds/lines are and how they are used in sports betting.

What are Odds/Lines in Sports Betting? 

Odds in sports betting can either be Moneyline, total bets, spread. When placing a bet, they can either be shown fraction or decimal, depending on where the bet is placed. European betting sites use decimal, while the UK uses fractional odds when wagering. Odds in America are selected differently, and neither decimal or fraction is used. They serve the same purpose even I’d they look different.

  • American Odds

American Odds are used by numerous sportsbooks in the United States. What makes American odds different from other odds is that the minus (-) and the plus (+) signs are not indicated in front of them. American odds are just given as 100. 

  • Plus (+) and Minus (-) Odds.

In sports betting, plus (+) and minus (-) may refer to betting odds or point spread. The favorite in a game is indicated with a “–” sign, and the underdog is shown with a “+” sign. For instance, the Dallas Cowboys is the favorite, therefore, if you are going to place a bet on them winning against the Green Bay Packers, you will do it as – 7 point favorite. This means that you will only win if the Dallas Cowboys managed to beat Green Bay Packers by 7 points. On the other hand, a bet placed as +7 point underdog means that you are vouching for the Green Bay Packers to win outright or lose the game by 7 points. 

These kinds of betting odds work the same way as in any other sport when betting. However, not-so favorites are indicated with a “–” sign. Such sports include hockey, soccer, and baseball. The reason is that in most cases, a run or a single goal is used to decide the final results. This applies more so in soccer, where matches can end up in a draw. In this case, the game will run in overtime, and the team that scores first wins the game. 

In many betting odds, however, the “ – ” sign in front of the Moneyline for favorite odds and “ + ” in front of the Moneyline is the underdog odds. 

  • Moneyline Bets

Before you decide to bet on sports, ask experts – how does sports betting works? – is the first step. When you make a Moneyline bet, it means that when the team or player that you bet wins, you win too. There is no other bet that you make on sports that is as simple as a Moneyline bet. This kind of bet is all about who wins the game. If you happen to be the one you have chosen, then you will be awarded a payout. If it loses, it means that you also lose the bet. 

  • Spread Bets

The forecasted point difference between two teams or players is what makes a spread bet. As usual, a plus (+) is for the underdog, and a minus (-) indicates the favorite. For example:

Cavaliers -9 (-150) Cavaliers minus 9 points at -150 odds To win the bet, the Cavaliers have to win by more than 7 points.

Heats +9 (-150) Heats plus 9 points at -150 odds To win the bet, the Heats have to win or lose by less than 9 points.

It is also possible a push if the Cavaliers end up winning by exactly nine points in each bet. If this happens, each side will receive back their money. The most common number when it comes to the odds of spread bets is -110. However, this number may change based on the sportsbook, the location, and the popularity of each side. Since the typical number is -110, if you want to win $100, you need to bet $110. In other states, revenue is their priority, and to get more money, they will make odds go up to -115 or -120. The amount that bookers charge punters to bet is called the vig. In bets that involve two teams or players having equal strengths, the matchup is considered a “pick ‘em.” You will know this type of bet because each team’s name will include a PK. Point spread wouldn’t matter in this situation. A tie will get your money back since it will narrow down to a Moneyline bet. 

  • Over/under (total) Bets

Points that are awarded to a particular contest refer to an over/under bet.

  • Decimal Odds (British)

Out of the three odds, this type is the easiest to understand since as a bettor, you only have to look at the numbers. These types of odds are commonly applied in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Europe. The underdog is the team will have odds that are higher out of the two teams. This means that bookers have reasons to believe that it will be hard for them to win. The favorite team, on the other hand, will have lower odds since it is most likely to win. By multiplying the decimal odds and the bet, you will get your payout if your bet wins. 

  • Fractional Odds (European)

These types of odds are usually applied in Ireland and the United Kingdom. They are mostly used to bet on horse racing, and many sportsbooks use fractional odds for futures odds in their United States. Fractional odds work the same way as decimal odds, where payouts are determined by multiplying the bet and the fractional odds. 


Making money through sports betting depends on how well you understand this kind of gambling. That is why it is critical that you consult an expert – how does sports betting work? While there are many sports you can bet on online, the odds used are always the same. This means that you need to be knowledgeable on how betting odds and lines work. Odds will also help you determine which team is likely to win, and you can also use odds to calculate the amount of money you will make from a bet. 

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