In order to become a successful bettor, it’s essential to understand exactly what the listed odds mean. With a full comprehension of the terms and underlying numbers, you can make the most informed bets possible while leveraging personal strategies en route to the development of a personal style. Let's take a look at how to read moneylines, point spreads and over/unders.
How To Read Moneyline Odds
In this format, you simply pick which team is going to win the game outright. The favorite is usually listed with a minus (-) sign and the underdog is usually listed with a positive (+) sign.
For example, if the Red Sox are -200, they’re the favorites. If the Yankees are +150, they’re the underdogs. If Boston is -350, they’re large favorites. If New York is +275, they’re large underdogs. Further, if the Red Sox are -115, they’re small favorites, even if the Yankees are -105.
The number after the + or — indicates how either side of the wager will pay. Favorites will pay out less than the original wager while underdogs will pay more than the original wager. In the examples above, a $200 bet on the Red Sox would pay out $100 in winnings ($300 total). A $100 bet on the Yankees would result in $150 in winnings ($250 total). A $350 bet on Boston (-350) would result in $100 in winnings ($450 total) while a $100 bet on New York (+275) would result in $275 in winnings ($375 total). In the final example, a $100 bet on the Red Sox (-115) would result in $115 in winnings ($215 total) while a $100 bet on the Yankees (-105) would result in $105 in winnings ($205 total).
How To Read Point Spreads
A point spread is a number set by oddsmakers in terms of the margin of victory or defeat for a particular team. The favorite team is labeled with a negative (-) sign, while the underdog is labeled with a positive (+) sign.
For example, if the Broncos are -6.5 against the Raiders, they’re 6.5-point favorites. If you bet on them and they win by 7 or more points, they “cover” and you win the bet. If you bet on them and they win by 6 or fewer points (or lose), you lose the bet.
If the Cowboys are +3.5 against the Giants, they’re 3.5-point underdogs. If you bet on them and they lose by 3 or fewer points (or win the game), you win the bet. If you bet on them and they lose by 4 or more points, you lose the bet.
Like moneyline bets, oddsmakers create spreads to get action on both sides of a potential outcome. Therefore, each point spread is labeled with a moneyline. For example, betting on the Broncos -6.5 (-110) would mean that if you wagered $110 on the Broncos at that spread, you’d win $100 ($210 total) if they won by 7-points or more. Meanwhile, if you bet on the Cowboys +3.5 (-105), wagered $105 and they won, you’d win $100 ($205 total).
How To Read Totals (Over/Unders)
An over/under bet is on the combined total score of a particular game. For example, if the over/under is set at 215.5 points in a game between the Lakers and Knicks, that means the oddsmaker is projecting that to be the total combined score in that game.
Bettors can choose to wager over or under this total and each total has a corresponding moneyline. For example, you bet $100 on the under with +115 odds and the two teams combine for 210 points, you win $115 ($215 total). If you bet $100 on the over with +105 odds and the two teams combine for 218 points (for example), you win $105 ($205 total).
It's important to not only understand how to read moneylines, point spreads and over/unders, but also to leverage that information to make the most informed bets. Here at BetQL, our best bets dashboards reveal our model's top moneyline, spread and over/under bets to take advantage of every single day.