A Sporting Chance: How Do Sports Betting Odds Work?

It’s the best time to be alive if you’re a person who loves placing a wager on sporting events. Not only is it more prevalent and easy to bet, but it’s becoming legalized in more places. 

The field of sports betting is experiencing a nearly 11% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) right now. Finding a sportsbook will let you get a return on any matchup that you feel great about. 

How do sports betting odds work? Keep reading to learn some sports betting information that will help you out. 

How Do Sports Betting Odds Work?

Knowing sports betting odds upfront is the first step that you should consider before placing a wager. It’s the first thing you will see whenever you check out a matchup that you’d like to bet on, and also dictates how much money you’ll get back if your bet hits. 

For sports betting odds explained, consider these factors:

Consider the Money Line Odds

A money line bet is a straight-up bet that you’re choosing when you think a particular team or athlete is going to win their matchup. When you look at money line odds, you’re viewing the likelihood of one or the other to win, as predicted by the oddsmakers. 

These odds are displayed with a plus negative sign and a number beside it. This represents how much money you’d need to wager in order to win $100, or how much money you receive in exchange after wagering $100. The negative sign is for the matchup favorite, while the plus sign indicates that a team or athlete isn’t favored to win. 

For example, if the Minnesota Vikings are a -200 money line favorite to beat the New Orleans Saints, it means that they are so favored that you would need to wager $200 to win back $100. Conversely, if the Saints are a +350 underdog in the matchup, wagering $100 would win you back $350 if the Saints happen to pull off the unlikely upset. 

Make sure to compare odds before making a money line bet so you have a clear idea of which team is the favorite. They are always a good indicator of how the oddsmakers view a matchup, and from there, you can figure out how you’d like to wager. 

Look at the Over/Under

Over/Under bets also reveal a lot about the bet and how oddsmakers see the matchup. It is a bet that expresses the likelihood of an event taking place. 

For instance, if the Chicago Bulls are facing the Milwaukee Bucks and are expected to win the matchup, the Over/Under gives an idea about how much they’re expected to win by. If the oddsmakers set Over/Under bets at 7.5 points, it an Over bet is a wager that the Bulls will win by 8 points or more, while an Under bet says that they will win by 7 points or fewer.

While you can win with either bet, the baseline of the bet explains a lot about the likelihood for them to win by a certain number of points. 

Understand Decimal Odds

Odds are often issued by decimal numbers. Understanding how these decimal odds work will also provide some intel that can help you in the betting process. 

These odds are more popular in Europe than in the United States, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with how it works if you’re using an international sportsbook. The number represents how much money you will receive for every dollar that you bet. For instance, if the Atlanta Braves have 1.7 odds to beat the New York Mets, you would receive $1.70 for each dollar or $170 for every $100. It’s similar to the way that money line odds work and gives you an idea of which team is favored and by how much. 

Get to Know Implied Probability 

When you’re learning how sports betting odds work, make sure that you familiarize yourself with implied probability. This refers to a plus or minus sign beside the team or athlete in the listing. It works similarly to the way that money line bets work, in that it represents how much money you would win by placing a $100 wager. 

For example, if the Buffalo Bills have +500 odds to win the Super Bowl this season, and the Houston Texans have +3000 probability, it means that placing a $100 bet on the Bills would win you $500 while placing the same bet on the Texans would win $3,000. Keep in mind that you’re never limited to $100 bets or even numbered bets in general, but the implied probability explains how likely it is or how much of a long shot. 

Anytime that you win substantial amounts of money in return for a small bet, it’s an implied indicator that the probability of the bet winning is low. Taking advantage of these odds allows you to play the probability game, which is how you can win some substantial money for your efforts. 

The key is making sure that you do your research and have some knowledge of why the winning bet might be more likely than the oddsmakers predict. Likelihood aside, there’s always an underdog’s chance for an upset, which is often half the fun of watching sporting events to begin with. 


Get Started With Sports Betting

So, how do sports betting odds work? Now that you have a better understanding, it’s time to do your research. Take the time to learn more about sports betting so that you can calculate sports odds and pick your next big winner. 

Begin with these tips and use our site to stay up to date on sports betting and gambling advice. 



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