When it comes to sports betting, knowing how to read the odds is of the utmost importance. Obviously, having the winner is great and by far the most important factor, but understanding the payout is how you maximize your winnings and stretch your dollar.
Having this skill is what separates the square, novice gambler from the sharp, professional gambler. You’ll never be able to make any money sports gambling until you know how to read the odds correctly.
So, with this in mind, study these simple facts to get you on your way to know how to read odds.
Basically, the odds are your payout. You wager this amount; it pays you this amount. Simple as that. Many gamblers make the mistake of thinking the odds are a direct indicator of how much better one team is over another.
Of course, this is part of the equation, but it is definitely not that simple. So, to put that thought out of your mind before laying your next wager, remember, the odds only concern your payout.
American Odds Explained
Next to any sports wager you see posted at a sportsbook, whether it’s a point spread, moneyline, or any other, you’ll see the odds. They are usually three-digit numbers with a plus or minus such as -110, +200 or -500.
This format is known as American odds and is a bit different than other formats. Essentially, these numbers indicate the payout on a wager based on a $100 bet. So, a $100 wager at -110 odds will pay out $90. A $100 wager at +200 will pay $200. And a $100 wager at -500 will pay out $20.
As you can see, minus is a favorite, and a plus is an underdog. As you can also see, Americans have a strange way of calculating odds.
The Percentages Remain The Same
Knowing how these odds are calculated can sometimes create more confusion. Before you ask, no, you do not have to place wagers in $100 units. You can wager any amount depending on the sportsbook, but those percentages will remain the same.
A $50 wager at -110 pays out $45. A $20 wager at +200 pays out $40. A $5 wager at -500 pays out $1. It is much more complicated than it should be, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll see it is simple percentages.
The Moneyline Odds
The easiest way to see these odds at work is with the moneyline wager. A wager on the moneyline is simple: You just pick the winner. If a team is a -300 favorite, you’d have to wager $300 to win $100.
If a team is a +300 underdog, a $100 wager wins you $300. See, the odds are the payout, and this is your only concern when betting on the moneyline.
The Point Spread Odds
The point spread wager is a different animal as it involves handicapping, with the favorites giving points and underdogs receiving points. Because of this handicapping, the odds are usually -110 for either side of a point spread wager.
So, to win this wager, your team will have to cover the point spread. If a team is a -7 favorite, they’ll have to win by at least eight to win the wager.
If a team is a +7 underdog, they can lose by as much as six and still win the wager. And, no matter which side of the wager you chose, the payout is -110. Of course, this leads to the obvious question: What happens to that 10 percent of the payout.
That number 10 in the -110 odds is what is known as “the juice,” and it’s the reason sportsbooks do so well. Basically, the juice is the price for admission. If you lose your wager, you lose all of the money. However, if you win your wager, the juice insures that the house makes money.
A good sportsbook tries to get as much money on both sides of every wager. This way, they can collect from the losers and shortchange the winners. The more money they bring in, the more they get, and that’s where the 10 percent goes. Straight to the house.