What Are Betting Odds?
Betting odds are set by oddsmakers at each of the sportsbooks, and they reflect their opinion on the probability of a particular game, event, or other proposition. When one side has shorter odds than the other, that means the sportsbook sees that side being more likely to win (or that proposition having a greater chance of happening than the other). The greater the odds, the greater the payout for the customer. Another factor in setting these odds is liability, as the goal for oddsmakers is to mitigate risk and have as close to balanced action on each side as possible.
How To Read Betting Odds
Reading and understanding betting odds can oftentimes be confusing to beginners. There are a variety of ways that betting odds can be presented, but here in the United States, you’ll always see “American Odds.” The odds will appear in the form of hundreds, and they’ll either have a minus or plus sign in front of them. The difference between the plus or minus sign is to distinguish the favorite or underdog to win outright in a given match, and for a proposition, the minus sign would indicate an “odds-on favorite,” meaning the most likely scenario.
When betting on football, there are three different forms of betting markets you’ll see: the point spread, the moneyline, and the total.
Moneyline: Betting on the moneyline means you’re wagering on which side you think is going to win. Let’s use Super Bowl 57 as an example. The Eagles were -125 and the Chiefs were +100. The Chiefs ended up winning the Super Bowl, and anyone that bet the Chiefs outright would receive a payout of 1:1, as indicated by the +100 odds, a $100 bet profiting $100.
Point spread: Rather than betting on either side to win or lose, you’re betting on the margin of victory for a given matchup. In order to win your bet on the favorite, they’ll have to win by more than that amount of points. And to win your bet on the underdog, they just can’t lose by at least that amount of points. If you bet on the favorite’s point spread and they win by that exact number of points, your bet will “push,” meaning you get your money back but you don’t win or lose. The same goes if you bet the underdog and they lose by that exact number.
When betting the point spread, there will always be odds next to each side, which would indicate your payout for each. There is usually a small disparity in payout between both sides on the point spread, and typically start out at -110 on each side, meaning, you would have to stake $110 to profit $100. As a reminder, the favorite will have a minus sign in front of their point spread and the underdog will have a plus sign.
Total: This represents the combined amount of points scored by both teams in a given matchup, and when betting on the total, you’ll either be wagering on the “over” or the “under.” When betting on the over, that means you’re expecting there to be more points scored than the total, and to bet the under means you’re expecting less. Like with the point spread, there will be moneyline odds on each side, typically starting at -110.
Why Are Odds Important?
Odds are important because they provide the calculation of potential payouts and they indicate the probability of an event or outcome. The shorter the odds, the greater the likelihood but less of a payout. The greater the odds, it’s less likely to occur, but the payout is larger.
How To Use Odds in Your Favor
Anyone that lives in a legal betting state will have a variety of sportsbooks to choose from, and it’s important to take advantage. The reason is that the odds may not be uniform across these different sportsbooks, meaning you should always “shop around” for the best odds possible. For example, if you like a team to win the Super Bowl, you should look at their odds at each of the sportsbooks and place your wager with the one that gives you the longest odds and the best payout.
What Is Arbitrage Betting?
Arbitrage betting is when you guarantee yourself profit, or at the very worst, break even on your bets by wagering on both sides of a market when presented the opportunity to take advantage of the odds.
Say, for example, you bet $100 on a +120 underdog for a potential profit of $120. Then, at another sportsbook, the odds for the favorite are shorter at -105, so you wager $105 to win $100. Now, you’ll be guaranteed either a profit of $15, or to break even in the worst-case scenario, as opposed to potentially losing $100 on the underdog.