Betting Odds Explained

The sports betting industry continues to grow in the United States, and chances are that you are looking to break into the industry. If you are someone that is planning on betting on sports, from answering questions like ‘how do odds work?’ to ‘what does +/- mean?’, there are a few things that you need to learn before you place your first bet.

How to read betting odds with me, Wunderdog

My name is Wunderdog. I have spent more than 20 years in the sports betting industry. During this time, I have developed a betting strategy that works extremely well and brings in a substantial amount of success, and I also share my knowledge with fellow sports bettors.

Knowing how to read betting odds is one of the most important things for sports bettors to know and understand if you have any chance of winning. And there are two symbols that have extreme importance in the betting process. The two symbols that we are going to discuss today are the plus and minus signs that can be found in front of the betting odds.

If you find yourself asking, “What does the + and - mean in sports betting?”, then this is the perfect opportunity to gain some sports betting knowledge that can help you win big, whether you’re into football, baseball or basketball. . 

Plus or minus - how do odds work?

These two symbols set the stage for the entire sports betting process. The signs refer to the amount that must be wagered in order to win, but work in different ways depending on whether the team or player is a favorite or not.

Favorites are Always (-)

When looking at betting odds, the favorite will always be listed with the (-) in front of their betting lines. There are certain situations when both teams in the matchup will have the (-) sign listed, and that means that sportsbooks view that game as a toss-up - where it’s not clear who is the favorite.

What does that mean for my bet?

Now that you know and understand that the (-) sign represents the favorite in a particular matchup, you probably want to know what that means in terms of money. Most sports bettors are in the industry to win money, so unsurprisingly that’s the number one thing on their minds.

What this means is that the number listed after the (-) is the amount of money that must be wagered to win $100. This does not mean that you have to wager that amount, but it’s the easiest way to break it down.

Example: What does -200 mean in betting?

As we know now that a (-) sign means that the team is a favorite, so a team with odds set at -200 would require a $200 bet to win $100. It’s as simple as that

Underdogs Get the (+)

So, the favorites in a particular matchup get the (-), which means that the underdogs therefore get the (+). Some underdogs can also get the (-) sign, but that will further complicate things, and we aren’t at that point yet.

Once again, I’m sure that you are interested in knowing what this means when it comes to your money. Betting on the underdog can be a great way to go, but you have to be sure that your underdog pick will win the event. 

Example: What do odds of +200 mean?

The number presented after the (+) sign represents the amount of money you can win with a $100 bet. For example, a team with odds of +200 can earn you a winning of $200 if you bet $100. 

The higher the number that is listed after the (+) sign, the greater the winnings would be. But be warned, the higher the number also means that the lower the chances are of that team or individual winning the game or event. 

Odds Can Change in a Hurry

Another thing to remember when looking at the odds in relation to the plus and minus is that these odds can change quickly, and they also change often. Sportsbooks adjust odds as they get new information, so it’s important that you are constantly doing your research as well.

It’s very rare that the odds in a matchup will completely flip, and usually, the plus and minus will always remain on the same team or individual. If the signs ever flip between teams, then you know that the odds have shifted dramatically. 


What is +/- in sports betting


Look For Value in Underdogs

If you are going to focus on the favorites and underdogs when looking at betting matchups, it is important to find value in the underdogs. This doesn’t mean always bet on underdogs in every situation, but rather look for the best opportunities to strike and win some money.

There are certain times when betting the underdog is the right play, but that’s not always the correct way to bet. If you are going to bet on an underdog, it is important to find value before placing that bet. In addition to seeking out better value, you can also find better odds by shopping with multiple sportsbooks. Sports betting is hard stuff. There's a reason why the sportsbooks do so well on average. There's a reason why most sports bettors lose. A key reason is that they stack the odds in their favor. On a typical sports bet, they have a big edge over you which manifests itself in the odds. 

I will always provide some underdog picks when I deliver my daily picks, and I consistently search for value in delivering these selections. 

Not All Favorites Are Built Equally

Even if a team has a (-) by its name, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a massive favorite to win the sporting event. Sportsbooks typically designate one team as the favorite in a certain matchup, but other times, both teams can also have the (-) by their names.

I’ll cover how to read betting odds in more depth in a different section of my “How to Bet on Sports” betting guide, but will briefly cover this here. Finding the favorite is typically easy when looking at odds, but not all favorites are built equally.

It’s important to look at the number next to the (-) as well, as that will determine just how big of favorites they are in a particular game. The farther the number is from 100, the bigger the favorite they are in that matchup. 

If you are able to bet on a “favorite” that has a number close to $100, you will win more money than betting on a big favorite. However, this also means that there’s a possibility that sportsbooks will view this matchup as a toss-up, so taking the underdog might be the best bet. 

Check For Promotions

One thing that can ruin everything that I just talked about is when sportsbooks offer boosted odds or promotions. These promotions are valuable to customers, but it can confuse some sports bettors when looking at the plus and minus figures.

Often, sportsbooks will offer some major promotions on some teams that open as favorites, and that can shift the sign from a - to a +. It’s important to look at the promotional details to know and understand when this is taking place.

Some of these promotions include

  • Sportsbook Bonus
  • Free Bet
  • Loyalty Points

It’s typically always a good bet to make when a team that is heavily favored at other sportsbooks is listed as with plus (+) odds at another sportsbook. This means that there are some boosted odds and your chance of winning the bet increases significantly.

Now you know how to read betting odds

I hope this guide to the plus and minus figures in sports betting has helped you when thinking about what bets you are going to choose. For more information on other betting questions or topics, head to the Wunderdog blog now, or get your free picks directly from me. 

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