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.
Moneyline's two cents: If you’re in the United States, you only need to know American odds, while globally all three types of odds are used.
What are odds?
Odds represent the likelihood of an outcome. In sports betting, each team is assigned odds — assigned by a sportsbook — that represent the likelihood of its winning the game. In a betting line between two teams, the team expected to win is called the favorite. The team expected to lose the game is called the underdog.
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.
American odds are what you will see displayed on every U.S. sportsbook. Like the metric system, dates, and miles per hour, Americans do things differently.
Here’s what American odds look like for spread, moneyline, and total bets.
|Chicago White Sox||+1.5 (-115)||+140||Over 9.0 (-120)|
|Los Angeles Angels||-1.5 (-105)||-120||Under 9 (-105)|
The first thing you’ll notice when reading odds will be that:
- Odds have either a plus or minus in front of them; and
- Odds are in terms of 100
Betting odds are written in terms of 100 as an industry standard. Even money is +100, which means for every $1 you bet, you will win $1 if your bet wins. Here’s the easiest way to think of the plus and minus signs:
- If it’s a plus (+105, +210 +350), you will receive more than a $100 payout on a $100 bet.
- If it’s a minus (-105, -210, -350), you will have to bet more than $100 to win a $100 payout.
Fortunately, you can preview your potential winnings on each bet before placing it at an online sportsbook. That said, it’s a big help if you understand the betting odds.
Moneyline bet odds
Definition of a moneyline bet: A bet on which team will win the game outright, Team A or Team B. It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t matter if the team you bet on wins by one point or wins by 50 points; as long as they win, you win your bet.
Read the chart below to get started on reading odds for the following game: Green Bay Packers (-150) vs. Detroit Lions (+130)
Green Bay Packers (-150) vs. Detroit Lions (+130)
|Moneyline odds||How to read it||What it means|
|Lions +130||Lions plus 130||By betting $100 you will win $130 if the Lions win|
|Packers -150||Packers minus 150||To win $100, you must wager $150 on the Packers to win|
Spread bet odds
Definition of a spread bet: A spread bet is a wager on which team will cover the spread or point spread. Point spreads are assigned to each team. Teams that are favorited will be given negative points (-1, -3, -7). To win a spread bet of -3, the team you bet on has to win by more than three points. Underdogs will be assigned extra points (+1, +3, +7). To win a spread bet of +3, the team you bet on has to either win the game or lose by less than three points.
How to read spread odds for the following game: Los Angeles Lakers +5 (-110) vs. Houston Rockets -5 (-110)
|Spread odds||How to read it||What it means|
|Lakers + 5 (-110)||Lakers plus 5 points at minus 110 odds||The 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 odds||The 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.|
Over/under (total) bet odds
Definition of over/under bet: A bet on how many combined points both teams will score. If the over/under for a game is 55, you can bet whether the total combined points for both teams will be more than or less than 55.
How to read over/under odds for the following game:
New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox Over 7 (-115) Under 7 (-110)
|Total odds||How 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.
Video link - How to View Odds in a Sports Betting App
What sportsbooks offer the best moneyline odds?
Moneyline boasts one of the most comprehensive assessments of odds in the industry. Based on 34,000 data points from over 1,700 individual bets, we found the following sportsbooks offer the best odds on moneyline bets.
Data from more than 1,700 bets (including moneyline, spread, and total bets) was used to generate each sportsbook’s comparative odds ranking for our 2021 annual review. Leagues and bet types collected include NCAA football moneyline bets, NCAA basketball moneyline bets, NFL moneyline, spread, and total bets, NBA spread, moneyline and total bets, NHL moneyline, puckline and total bets, and soccer 3-way result (moneyline) bets.
What sportsbooks offer the best spread odds?
Based on our evaluation of thousands of data points, we found FOX Bet offers the best odds on spread bets.
What sportsbooks offer the best over/under odds?
After collecting over 34,000 data points, Moneyline.com has determined FOX Bet provides users the best over/under odds.
Why do odds matter in sports betting?
Odds are significant 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. Understanding betting odds allows you to pick between good and bad odds.
Check out these odds offered by six different sportsbooks on five games from the 2021-2021 NFL season. You'll notice each sportsbook offers different odds for each game. If you were betting on these games, you could compare and find the best odds for your desired bets. Using this strategy of line shopping will allow you to save money while betting on games over a long period of time.
How to use odds to calculate implied probability
You can use a simple math equation to understand what the sportsbook thinks the probability of each event occurring is — also what's known as “implied probability.” We understand implied probability by simply converting odds to a percentage.
For positive odds, implied probability = 100/(odds + 100). For negative odds, implied probability = odds/(odds – 100).
|Team||Odds||Implied Odds of Winning||Implied Percentage|
|Miami Heat||+130||100/(130 + 100) = .4347||43.47%|
|Chicago Bulls||-110||-110/(-110 - 100) = .5238||52.38%|
If you think the Chicago Bulls are undervalued and have a much higher chance of winning, then betting on them makes sense.
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 are Vegas odds?
If you go to Las Vegas or other casinos with sportsbooks, you might see odds laid out in a slightly different format. While the odds displayed will still be American odds, they are featured in a different order. The first column indicates what’s called a rotation number. A rotation number helps you quickly identify the bet you’re looking for, especially when there are hundreds to pick from. The second column displays the names of each team. The third column shows the spread and the over/under. If the spread is -3 for the Bears, that means it is +3 for the Vikings. The over/under is set at 45.5. The fourth column displays moneyline odds for each team.
There are a few different variations of Vegas odds boards, but as long as you understand spread, moneyline, and total bets, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for. You’ll notice in the example above that odds are not given for the spread and over/under bets. While you can assume the odds are likely between -130 and +110 for each side, you’ll have to ask the cashier or look at your betting ticket after placing the bet.
How do plus and minus odds work?
In a betting line between two teams, the team expected to win, or the 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.
|Team||Odds||Amount wagered||Total 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)|
What do +100 odds mean?
Odds of +100 mean 1 to 1, or even money. For every $1 wagered on a team with odds of +100, $1 will be paid out. In other words, if you bet $10 at +100 odds, you will win $10 if your bet wins. If two teams are evenly matched you might see moneyline odds of +100.
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 or greater are offered on teams that are not expected to win a game.
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 for up to five teams using -110 odds for each bet (bet $110 to win $100). Remember, in a two-team parlay, both teams have to win for the parlay to win.
Sportsbooks make a ton of money on parlay bets because the odds offered are typically less than fair. Let’s say you make a two-team parlay where both teams are listed at -110 odds. Sportsbooks will typically list the odds of this parlay at +265. The implied probability of +265 odds is 27.39% (100/(265 +100). The actual odds of hitting a two-team parlay is 25%. Therefore, the fair price of a two-team parlay (both teams at -110 odds) is +300 (100/(300 + 100). This is why sportsbooks will encourage you to make parlay bets. In defense of sportsbooks, these bets can be a lot of fun (I make a parlay bet at least once a week). Also, if the sportsbook offers promotions around parlays, you can sometimes get a better value on the odds.
Fractional odds are used more commonly in parts of Europe and in horse racing. 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’d go about reading them.
|Horse name||Odds||How to read it||Your bet||You win|
|Laser Focus||15/1||Fifteen to one||$10||$150|
|American Pride||7/2||Seven to two||$10||$35 (10 x 3.5)|
|Green Eggs||3/5||Three 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. Many sportsbooks offer a fractional view if you prefer it to the American odds.
Decimal 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
|Team||Your bet||Your return||Your profit|
Many sportsbooks offer a decimal view if you prefer it to the American odds.
To sum up, 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 to see where sports betting stands in your state!
For Moneyline.com’s annual best online sportsbooks review, we collected more than 36,000 data points over five months from 20 sportsbooks that serve 11 states where full-scale mobile betting is legalized. Hundreds of hours were spent testing and scoring each sportsbook (mobile and online/desktop) in seven core categories: sports and bets offered, odds, live betting, mobile betting, education, ease of use, and bonuses and promotions. The results determined each sportsbook’s overall rating.
Data from more than 1,700 bets (including moneyline, spread and total bets) was used to generate each sportsbook’s comparative odds ranking. Leagues and bet types collected include NCAA football moneyline bets, NCAA basketball moneyline bets, NFL moneyline, spread and total bets, NBA spread, moneyline and total bets, NHL moneyline, puckline and total bets, and soccer 3-way result (moneyline) bets. When collecting odds, we made sure to collect the same games at the same time for each sportsbook, ensuring data accuracy.
About Moneyline.com’s chief sportsbook researcher, Joey Shadeck: I’ve been a hobby sports bettor for more than six years, placing hundreds of bets on my favorite sports (football, basketball, MMA) and teams (Packers, Spartans, and whoever is playing the Lions). Beyond sports betting, I’m known for saying “Wanna bet on it?” in almost any situation and that is how I found out I can eat 42 chicken nuggets in less than 20 minutes.
As of February 2021, 22 different states have legalized sports betting to some capacity. Of those 22 states, the following 11 have legalized full-scale mobile betting: Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada (must register in-person), New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia.