Whenever you bet on a sports game, or even at the casino, you are faced with odds. Betting odds are the numbers that are used by bookmakers to represent the probability of an outcome occurring, thus telling you how likely you are to win a bet. This also tells us how much they are willing to pay out on a winning bet, too.
We see odds in all shapes and forms, from percentages, to decimals, to fractions, and if you enjoy taking part in some sports betting then you have undoubtedly come across betting odds. If you bet on the NFL and the Super Bowl, you will often see these betting odds as a decimal or a number with a +/- next to it.
Betting online, you will always see the odds as you choose what you will bet, click here to find out more on betting odds for the NFL, Super Bowl, and all other sporting events you could dream of betting on.
For now, let’s talk about what odds are, how to understand them, and how you can use these odds to give yourself a better chance of winning.
How do betting odds work?
Betting odds are the displayed numbers, often as fractions, decimals, or with a +/- sign, that tell us how much we will stand to win if our bet is successful. Bookmakers will often display their odds for games such as the NFL in fractions, however, depending on the type of bet, it may be different.
Think about the point spread for NFL games, this is often displayed as a decimal For example if the New York Jets were playing off against the New England Patriots, their spread may look like this.
|New York Jets
|New England Patriots
A great deal of bets in the NFL and Super Bowl are shown as decimals, however, a great deal of sports is shown as fractions as well, do not be frightened by the numbers you see, they are just the odds calculated by basic mathematics. We will explain what each of these mean below, so these numbers feel a little less intimidating.
Understanding NFL betting odds- Point spread
Looking at our above example, this is a point spread, now betting odds on a point spread are shown as Over/Under odds.
The person who sets the point spread is an oddsmaker, and they always set an opening line, which is what they think is the fairest value, offering equal action from bettors for either side.
On each spread you will have an underdog, and a favorite. The favorite is simply the team who is believed to win, whereas the underdog is more likely to lose the game. NFL games also have an over/ under total, this is the total number of points the game is handicapped to have by both teams. Look at the spread we provided above and let’s look into this.
In our example the Jets have a spread of -7.5 this means they are expected to win the game by a good 7.5 points at least, the Patriots on the other have + 7.5 meaning they are expected to lose by this much.
Then the O/U means over/ under, which means that the total number of points in the game is predicted to be 47 points.
Now, you see the ‘-110’ part? This is the odds, the most common betting line for a point spread is typically -110. Seeing this is like playing tax to the sportsbook. Bettors would pay 10% to the sportsbook. What this indicates is that you must bet $110 in order to win $100. The odds are shown as what you need to bet in order to win $100.
So, if you saw a point spread with odds of -101, then you’d only need to wager $101 to win $100 back. The numbers are looking a little less intimidating now, aren’t they?
Understanding NFL betting odds- Money Lines
The money line is a little more straight forward. Money line odds are odds for winning the game outright, this exists for those who want to just bet the winner or the loser. Let’s look at an example of a money line spread.
|San Francisco 49ers
It looks a little complicated, right? It isn’t that bad. In this the 49ers are -500 to win the game, this means if you want to bet on them to win outright then play this, however, the bit that hurts is that this figure means you would need to put down $500 to win just $100 back, this money line is set at odds 5-to-1. For the Cowboys, you are looking at +425, so you would have to put down $100 to win $425 back if they are victorious. The odds here are 4.25-to-1.
Let’s also explain the spread that you see next to the money line. We know that the -110 means that you need to put down $110 to get $100, however, the Cowboys have ‘(Even)’. This means that if you put down $100, you will get $100 if they’re victorious.
Betting odds- The basic understanding
So, what can we learn from this? Betting odds displayed as we see are American betting odds. The numbers we see are accompanied by +/- signs, a plus sign means you will win back more money than what you put down, whereas a minus sign means you will not win back as much money as you put down. However, don’t automatically go betting for the underdog just because they have that plus sign next to them. It is there because the bookmakers believe they have a smaller chance of winning. The underdog will always be accompanied by a plus sign, whereas the favorite will be accompanied by a minus.
The big question here is, are you willing to take the risk on the underdog to potentially win big?