Sports Betting Lines

Any player who wants to get into sports betting needs to understand the lines and odds. This is crucial to their success. There may be numbers everywhere that seem to be randomly chosen, and parimutuel odds change by the minute, so beginners may be overwhelmed. To make it more confusing, there are 3 different ways odds can be written.

What are odds?

Odds are, by definition, the probability that something will happen. There can be odds placed on anything. Typically these odds are designed around whether or not a team wins, but ‘prop’ bets can be on as silly as what color shirt someone wears, or how long or how well the national anthem is sung. Odds are expressed by 3 different number formats, and the same sporting event may have different odds depending on where you place your bets. It is important to remember that book makers include a small margin of profit in their odds.

What are lines?

Money lines are another method of betting that is more popular in boxing, car racing, and tennis. This is because the point spread is either irrelevant or far too small to bother with. At times even Baseball, Soccer, and Hockey have margins too small to create a point spread. When you can’t create a point spread, bookmakers use lines.

Who creates the Lines and Odds?

Depending on what sport you bet on, or where you place your bet, different people may be the ones to calculate the odds. Many bookmakers set their own odds, but horse racing tracks set the odds for their races. All online sportsbooks from the casinos tend to hire linemakers to produce reasonable odds, which takes quite a lot of research and knowledge.  Most online betting sites love at the odds set by the Las Vegas casinos and go by those numbers.

Odds change quite a bit, depending on the sport you choose. Parimutuel betting means the odds change as every new bet is laid. Bookmakers also sometimes change the odds to make wagers more attractive to draw in more bets. For example, if a bookmaker has too many people betting on Team 1, they may change the odds slightly to make betting on their rival, Team 2 more enticing to balance out the wagers.

How do you read odds?

Odds are written in three different way, and knowing how to read them will help make you successful in your sports betting:

Decimal Odds
Decimal odds are some of the easiest to read.  To convert something with a 50% chance of happening is in decimal odds, you use this formula: 100/50 = 2. This is written as odds of 2.0. To determine payout is very simple: For every 1 dollar wagered, you receive 2 back.

Fractional Odds

This more traditional style of expressing odds can be more confusing. If your odds are 3/1 to determine you will win $3 for every $1 wagered. Your ticket pays out a total of $4. To convert these odds to the Decimal odds, you simply divide the top number by the bottom number.

Moneyline Odds
These are also called American Odds. The odds are written in positive or negative numbers. For example, the same odds in Decimal odds is 2.0, in Fractional odds is 1/1, is written in Moneyline odds as +100. The biggest difference is instead of basing the bet on $1, this system has a base bet of $100. It does not mean that the minimum bet is $100, however.  To read the payout on these odds differs if the number is negative or positive. +300 odds means if you bet $100, your ticket will pay out $400 (your wager + profit). When the odds are negative, like -300 you must bet $300 to win $100 profit.

To convert Moneyline odds to Decimal odds takes a little math. Positive Moneyline odds such as you simply add 100 and place the decimal after the first number. So +300 would be 4.0 in decimal odds. Negative odds generally don’t need conversion.

Other Common Bets

Over/Under is a simple bet where you are betting if the total game points are over or under a specific number set by a linesmaker.