Sports Betting Odds 101
There are many ways to bet, so let’s take a look at some of the most popular, how to bet them properly and more.
Types of Betting Odds
– What they are
– Run Line/Puck Line
– Ways to think about it
Traditionally, betting on the spread is the most popular in many sports, specifically football. If the “spread” is seven points, that means there is a favorite and an underdog with a seven-point differential in betting terms.
For example, if the New York Giants and New York Jets are playing, and the Jets are seven point favorites, you will see this: NY Jets (-7) vs. NY Giants (+7). There are a few ways to explain this, but the most simple involves taking the spread and applying it to the final score. If you bet on the Jets -7, you would need the Jets to win by more than 7 points. If you bet on the Giants +7, you need the Giants to come within at least 7 points of the Jets.
If you bet Jets -7 and the Jets win 28-20, you win and the Giants +7 bet loses.
If you bet Jets -7 and the Jets win 27-21, you lose and the Giants +7 bet wins.
Typically, if a bettor believes the underdog not only will cover but they will win outright, bettors will bet the moneyline on the underdog which could net a higher payout. More on this next.
There are different types of “spreads” in different sports, including betting the run line in baseball and puck line in hockey. Both of these are “spreads”, but based on different prices similar to moneyline. For example, the Yankees may be heavily favored and their “run line” will be -1.5 runs, but a price of -170. The game goes for hockey, the Rangers may be 1.5 goal favorites (-1.5) but they will be -150 if heavily favored. Figure out what that means in this next section.
Betting on the moneyline is one of the most popular styles of betting, and it involves simply betting on a team to win. For example, Team A is a -200 favorite to win, and Team B is a +180 underdog to win. This means on a scale of $100, you would need to bet $200 to win $100 if you bet on the favorite (-200 means 1:2 odds). On the contrary, if you wanted to bet on the underdog at +180, that would mean betting $100 to win $180, or 1.8:1 odds.
Moneylines in various sports differ, as sometimes you may see favorites with an enormous number, and underdogs on the other side as well. For example, if Gerrit Cole and the Yankees face off against a team like the Tigers with a poor pitcher starting, the Yankees moneyline may be -500 or higher, indicating the Yankees are massive favorites.
Have you ever heard someone say: “I have the over in this game”? That means a bettor is betting on the total, and betting “over” or “under”.
For example in football, the “total” is the total amount of points scored by both teams. If the Giants and Jets are playing and the total is 47.5 points, you can bet the under (47 points or less) or the over (48 points or more) and win. If the two teams’ scores add up to more than the total, over bets win. If two teams’ scores add up to less than the total, the under bets win.
If the Giants and Jets final score is 28-20 and you bet “over” 47.5, you win as the total is 48. If you bet the under of 47.5, you lose.
Parlays are a great way to maximize your winnings in sports betting, but they are much harder to win. A parlay is a series of bets on one “ticket” that all bets must hit for a bettor to win. If a bettor bets on three outcomes, the odds will compound. For example, a parlay will look like this:
As you can see, there are three bets on this ticket. The odds are -112, -110, and -110. All three bets must hit, and the bettor will then receive +593 on the bet. A $10 bet would return $69.31 with these odds. Remember, if one bet loses, the entire bet loses. You can parlay nearly any type of bet you wish, with a few restrictions depending on the sportsbook.
Teasers are very similar to parlays in terms of betting, but they do not include money line bets. The difference between a teaser and a parlay are quite simply the spreads or totals in the bet, and the overall odds.
Say you like the Jets -7, but you are not extremely confident in them covering seven points. You could tease them with another game and get a better number, meaning the Jets -3 on a four-point teaser, or sometimes better depending on the book.
Again, teasers will return a larger amount on the bet at higher odds but all bets need to hit for a teaser ticket to finish. A teaser will take the regular spread and then make it more favorable for the bettor at worse odds. For example:
New York Jets -7 -> -3
Detroit Lions -7 -> -3
Bettors enjoy wagering on teasers for football and basketball, mostly.
A futures bet is quite simply what it sounds like, a bet on a future event. For example, if a bettor believes the New York Yankees will win the next World Series, you can bet on that.
Futures odds are displayed as longer odds as they are harder to predict given the unpredictability of sports. If you took the Yankees to win the World Series at +400, that would be 4:1 odds and a large return on investment if the bet hits. The only downside is your money will be tied up with the sportsbook until the bet closes, which could be a while depending on which future is bet.
Some examples are:
Super Bowl Winner
Heisman Trophy Winner
World Series Winner
Prop bets are becoming more and more popular in the legal sports betting space, as it is a way for bettors to bet on single events occurring within a specific game or match.
An example of a prop bet would be:
Daniel Jones passing yards, 256.5.
This means, the “prop” is set at 256.5 passing yards. You can bet over or under, and if you select correctly you win the prop bet.
There are many types of prop bets in all sports, and that includes game props. Popular props include how long the National Anthem is in the Super Bowl, will the coin flip be heads or tails, and more.
Basketball and football prop bets are quite popular, but betting on baseball players to hit homeruns is a popular prop market as well. Props will vary based on the sportsbook.
Sports Betting Odds Glossary
Ever hear a word and not sure of what it means? That’s what we are here for, let’s take a look at some sports betting lingo.
Alt Lines – These are alternate lines that will fluctuate based on odds and what the bet is. For example, the Jets may be -7, but you could bet an “Alt Line” at -10 if you are really confident and get a better set of odds.
Backdoor Cover – This is an event where the spread or total (or other types of betting) changes at the last second, or due to an event at the end of a game. For example, if the spread is Jets -7 and the Jets are winning 23-20 at the end of the game…a backdoor cover would be if there was a pick six as time expired for a 30-20 Jets victory, covering -7.
Bankroll – This is the number of dollars in your sportsbook’s wallet. Some use bankroll totaling their entire bankroll across many books.
Bonus – When a bettor signs up at a new sportsbook, they could be eligible for incentives. These are called bonuses.
Chalk – Chalk is a popular bet. For example, if the Jets are -7 and 80% of all bets are on the Jets, that is a chalk pick.
Closing Line – Lines move throughout time, depending on news or other factors. If the Jets are -7 now, but are -8 at kickoff the “closing line” is -8.
Consensus – The consensus shows what most bettors are betting on for a given market. Using the above example in “chalk”, if 80% of the bettors are taking one side, that is a consensus.
Dime – A $1000 wager.
Dog – An underdog, meaning the team that is not favored to win the game.
Handicapper – This is a person that predicts a betting market. A person that handicaps is someone that will predict the score based on research and knowledge.
Handle – This is the total amount of bets a sportsbook has taken in terms of dollars wagered.
Hedge – Hedging is a sports betting strategy used to mitigate risk and/or guarantee profit from a previous wager or set of wagers. For example, if you have a Yankees futures bet at +400, if the Yankees make the World Series and their opponent is +200 to win the World Series, you could bet on the opponent and assure profit no matter what the outcome.
Hook – This is just known as a half a point on a spread. If the Jets are -7.5, the “hook” is the .5 amount.
Juice – Also known as take or vig. This is what the sportsbooks “make” from bets. For example, if two sides of a bet are -110 for each price that means that there is a 10% “juice” as it is not -100 on both sides.
Lay the Points – Laying the points means you are placing a bet on the favorite and expecting them to cover the spread. If the Jets are -7 and you take that bet, you are laying the points.
Lock – A bet that a bettors thinks is a “can’t lose” bet. A great bet to take.
Nickel – A $500 wager.
Off the Board (OTB) – Sometimes, sportsbooks will remove a game from “the board” which means it is no longer taking bets on that game. Maybe a player is hurt and they need to adjust the lines, you will see “OTB” in this case.
Opening Line – What the betting odds open at. For example as soon as odds are launched, those are the “opening lines”.
Push – If a bet “ties”, you get your money back. For example if you bet the Jets -7 and the Jets win by seven, this is a push which means you get your money back. This is called a push.
Sharp – These are bettors that are either professional and/or successful that the sportsbook will take note of. If a large sum of money comes from a “sharp” bettor, that may influence the line. Sharp bettors are usually more successful than “regular” bettors.
Take the Points – Similar to laying the points, this is taking the underdog. For example if the Giants are +7 and you believe they will either win or come within a touchdown you bet on them at +7, taking the points.
Tout – A person that sells or offers betting picks to others.
Unit – This is the dollar amount of your bets. For example, if you bet $10 on each bet that means your normal betting “unit” is $10. This is used when some bettors say “I have three units on Bet X”, meaning they are betting three times a normal “level” based on confidence or other factors.