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Sports Betting Odds

Fri, May 31, 3:27pm by William Brown

Last Updated Tue, Oct 8, 12:20am

You see them on just about every popular sports information website, yet what do they mean? Sports odds can be both some of the most complex and also the easiest things to understand. There are many different types, but once you understand the basics, you’re off to a great start. Just about every popular sport in the world has odds on any given sportsbook, which makes it easily accessible for bettors who want to stray from the average casino betting.

Why is it important to predict the winner of a game? If you think about it, how exciting would games be if you couldn’t bet on them? We understand that there is team loyalty, and fans simply love rooting for their favourite teams or players, but sports betting raises the stakes. This is where the true sports fan comes out: when there’s something on the line, making the experience even more exhilarating.

Comparative Odds

Different Odds Types

There are a few different odds types, and methods to display them. American odds, which are commonly used around the world, look something like this:

Team A: -250
Team B: +210

These same odds, in a decimal format would look like:

Team A: 1.40
Team B: 3.10

Again, these odds in a fractional format would look like:

Team A: 2/5
Team B: 21/10

Who sets the odds?

Sportsbooks and oddsmakers are the ones who set the lines for each game, carefully analyzing each team and selecting which team is the favourite and which is the underdog. They set lines, ensuring they’re still making a profit – they charge a brokerage fee for each wager, also known as the juice. After careful consideration and some research, bettors are able to place a wager, sit back and wait for the outcome of the game – and hopefully collect some winnings.

Why do the lines move?

If you looked at the odds on your sportsbook yesterday, then looked again today and they changed, there are many underlying factors that could attribute to that line move. Let’s say, you’ve been watching a game between Team A (-140) and Team B (+400). Things are not looking good for Team B this game, so you might be inclined to bet the favourite, Team A, but the next day, their star player gets injured in practice. Oddsmakers will immediately take that into consideration and adjust the lines to reflect that. Given the impact this injured player has on the team, odds for Team A could shift to -110 and odds for Team B could shift to +120. There are many other factors that can lead to line moves, it could even be something as simple as too many bettors taking the underdog or betting the over.

Betting Options

Some sportsbooks have many different types of bets available, making the selection process all the more difficult. There are straight bets, such as moneyline, point spreads and totals, and betting options such as prop bets, futures, parlays and teasers that are slightly more advanced and a different option for the intermediate bettor.

Betting Options

Moneyline bets are easily the most simple betting type, and is the easiest to understand. When looking at the odds, you can determine who the favourite is by looking at the number sitting next to it. If Team A is sitting at +130 and Team B is sitting at -150, we can determine that oddsmakers decided Team B will prevail, and they are the favourite. Betting on Team A would be risky, but lead to a big pay out if there’s an upset. Moneyline bets are simple in that you only have to select who will win the game outright.
Point Spread
Point Spreads give the underdog a bit of an advantage off the bat. If Team A has a spread of 3, and -3 for Team B, Team B is favoured and will start the game down by 3 points. The underdog, in this case, Team A, will be given a head start of 3 points. For those betting on Team A, they will have to either win the game or lose by less than 3 points, and for Team B, they will have to win by more than 3 points.
Betting the totals is very simple, and fairly easy to predict. Oddsmakers try to predict what they think the total number of points between both teams, add them together and come up with a number based on how they think the game will play out. Bettors simply have to decide if they think the total will be over or under the oddsmaker’s prediction.

Betting Types

In addition to the main betting options, there are also plenty of betting types that are a bit more complex for bettors that want to step up their wagers a little bit. These types can provide larger payouts and more entertainment value than straight bets:

Betting Types

Risky, but rewarding, parlays are common bets to place on a day when there are plenty of events or games occurring. Parlays combine a minimum of two wagers into one, and can contain multiple different betting options, or a mixture, to create your ticket. The only catch is that you must win all legs of your bet to win your ticket.
Similar to parlay bets in that you must have all legs of your wagers correct to win, teasers involve lowering the point spread or total to lower the risk. This can save you in the end, so the payout is not as good as a parlay usually, but still entertaining nonetheless.
Prop bets are usually fun bets that are based on unusual events or aspects of the game or match. Prop bets can be on just about anything from which team can score first, or how many points a player might accumulate. Some props are so outrageous that the odds are fairly high, so if you win, the payout is usually pretty high.
Futures bets are pretty self-explanatory. Predicting an outcome weeks, months, years in advance, and receiving a huge payout if your prediction is correct. Odds are usually fairly high in this betting type, only because it’s very unlikely to predict the league champion 8-9 months in advance. That’s not to say it isn’t entirely possible though.

Line Shopping

If you want to bet smarter, start line shopping. Line shopping allows you to check out the odds at different online sportsbooks, which allows you to look at all of your options and see which sportsbook has the best odds for the game you want to wager on. It’s best to have a few accounts at a few different sportsbooks, so you have options when it comes down to making your big bet. Lines are usually fairly close, but sometimes you may find a huge difference, which will pay out in the long run. It’s all about finding the best chance to win, and line shopping can greatly help with your strategy.