How to Read Sports Betting Odds

When you first look at a sports betting board it can be a little intimidating. You will see terms like spread, moneyline and total, as well as positive and negative symbols. Although it may confuse you, don’t worry, it really is quite simple and once you get the hang of it, there is a quick learning curve. Let’s get into some of the basics and show you how to read sports betting odds.

We will start with the football betting odds board, because not all sports are displayed the same. Once you visit the football odds page, you will see the date, #, team, spread, moneyline and total.

The date and time is to ensure you are betting on the game of your choice, self-explanatory. The number is a way that sportsbooks keep order to their action. Some sportsbooks will take hundreds of thousands of bets a day, so without order and organization, it would be impossible to keep track. You may need to use this number at some point, but it is not really important.

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The team is also self-explanatory, but it is also very important. With the endless supply of betting options that are now available, it is very important to choose the correct game. Now we get into the good stuff, as the odds are represented in the spread, also called point spread, moneyline and total, which is also called the OVER/UNDER.

Next to the spread and the moneyline, you will always see a + and -, and they have a couple meanings. They represent who is the favorite and who is the underdog, but also indicates the amount of money you can win on a $100 wager.

When looking at the spread, the team with a – next to them signifies that they are giving points with the + signifying a team is getting points. If you see:

Indianapolis Colts +6 (underdog)
Washington Redskins -6 (favorite)

That means that the Redskins are a 6-point favorite and have to win by 7 or more to “cover the spread”. Essentially, before opening kickoff, the score is Colts 6 – Redskins 0.

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When you bet the moneyline, you are betting on a team to win straight up, and is different from a spread bet. The moneyline odds are always represented with the + and -, with the + being the underdog and the – being the favorite. But in this case, the number represents the payout.

If the moneyline odds are:

Indianapolis Colts +202 (underdog)
Washington Redskins -250 (favorite)

This means if you bet $100 on the Colts to win straight up, you will win $202. If you wager on the Redskins to win, you will have to wager $250 to win $100. In short, sportsbook are making you pay more for the favorite to win the same amount if you were betting for an inferior team to win.

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You do not have to wager $100 for every bet, but the formula will be the same no matter your wager amount. For example, if you were to bet $50 on the Colts, you will win $101.

When looking at a baseball betting board, you will not see spread odds, but you will see moneyline, total and run line. The moneyline and total work the same way as in football, but the run line is sort of like a fix spread for each baseball game. With the run line, you are betting on a team to win by two, or not lose by two. It’s a great way to find some value in a MLB game that has a moneyline that is heavily favoring one side to win.

Those are the very basics of how to read a sports betting board. Good luck in your betting endeavors.