One of the most important aspects of betting on sports is understanding how to read the odds. You might know a lot about football and the teams that are involved in the game, but understanding the betting lines is another important layer that you have to get familiar with if you’re going to wager on the games.
In this article, we’re going to talk about sportsbook odds, what American odds are and what makes them move. Let’s take a closer look:
How Do American Odds Work?
When you’re looking at American odds, you’re going to see a lot of plus and minus signs. That’s the key to understanding those types of odds. Let’s use this example, so that you can get a better idea of what you’ll be dealing with.
Boston Red Sox +250
New York Yankees -300
In this situation, what we’re looking at is two teams with sports betting odds on each side. This will give you an idea of two things: who the oddsmakers think will win and what the payouts will be for each team.
With the Yankees, we see the minus sign. That means that for their odds, that will be the amount you would bet to win $100. In this case, a $300 bet would pay $100 in profit if they won.
With the Red Sox, we see the plus sign. That means that for their odds, that will be the amount you would win if you bet $100. In this case, a $100 bet would pay $250 in profit if they won.
The other factor here is what the oddsmakers are projecting for this game. The Yankees are a sizable favorite on the sports betting lines, so they are expected to win. That’s why you have to bet more on them. As for the Red Sox, they’re expected to lose. Since that comes with greater risk, you get a greater potential payout if they pull it off.
Away Team Vs Home Team
One important factor to keep in mind for the sports odds is that almost always, the away team is on top and the home team is on the bottom. If you’re reading the baseball odds, NCAAB odds, NFL odds, NCAAF odds, and hockey odds, the road team is always on top with their odds and then home team is on the bottom. That means you can quickly gather who is at home and who is the road team simply by looking at the bet line. That’s important because home-field advantage provides an edge. Traditionally, winning percentages at home are much higher than on the road across all sports.
The lone exception is sometimes soccer. Sometimes they’ll post home teams on top, so double-check with your sportsbook before you bet.
Converting To Decimal Odds and Fractional Odds
Many people ask about converting American odds to decimal odds or fractional but a sportsbook will do that for you in the back end. You can change the odds in the settings to decimal, fractional or American – whichever you like.
However, if you’re wondering what it looks like, we’ll give you a quick example.
A +500 bet in American odds converts to 5/1. In other words, you’re getting five times your money. In decimal odds, that coverts to 6.00 because that incorporates your stake. In other words, if you bet $100, you’d collect $600 back in total ($500 profit plus your original $100 bet).
What Happens When The Line Moves?
When the betting line moves, you’ll see the numbers shift around on both sides. Going back to our example, the Boston Red Sox might start at +250 and go to +300, +350 or higher. Or maybe they drop down to +200, +100 or even become a favorite at -200.
Keep in mind that as the Red Sox line moves, so will the Yankees odds lines as it has to adjust accordingly.
The smaller the negative numbers go, the bigger the favorite a team becomes. In other words, -120 is a small favorite but -500 would be a huge favorite. On the other hand, the bigger the numbers go into positives, the bigger a team becomes an underdog. +120 is a small dog but +400 is a big dog.
Why Does The Betting Line Move?
The betting line moves out of supply and demand. If a sportsbook opens the gambling lines at a certain number and all of the bets come in on one side, they’ll increase the payout on the opposing side to try and attract bettors to that side.
Think of it like a stock price. If a group of people buy Apple shares at $100, then $101 and then $102, they’re pushing the price up. That might encourage people to sell as they’re now being offered more money than before.
The same goes with the betting line. If the Red Sox opened at -110 and the Yankees opened at -110, but then the Red Sox take lots of action to push the line to -130 and then -150, the Yankees line will shift to something like +110 and then +120. Maybe bettors didn’t think the Yankees were worth it at -110 but now that it’s at +120, they’ll jump in on that side since the price is more attractive. That’s how the betting line moves around.