Betting Line Odds
The NFL betting lines come in many different styles of odds, and it is important to know about the three that are most commonly used. Most online sportsbooks give their members the option to switch back and forth between types of odds, so take this opportunity to learn about each, and pick the one that seems the easiest to understand and use. For all of you U.S. sports bettors, the industry standard for the U.S. friendly sportsbooks is to use American odds and we will be focusing mainly on this type of odds. Some of the sportsbooks have the option of changing the odds to either the Decimal or Fractional odds, and we will discuss them briefly.
With those three main types of odds, it is important to learn what the information is telling you, how to calculate a payout, and how to benefit from each. The odds are always given differently on the NFL betting lines. On the money line, it will simple be the value given, whereas for the point spread and total points wagers, the odds are given as the Price.
American Odds
We will start out with the American odds, as they are the most common among U.S. friendly sportsbooks; some do not even have any other odds type. This type of odds are shown as a whole number value, preceded by a negative (–) or a positive (+) symbol. When using the American odds, the lowest number that you would ever encounter is 100, and if you ever see the odds as “EVEN”, it is the same thing as placing the 100.
Odds Information
There is plenty of information that a sports bettor can get from looking at the odds, including which team is the Favorite and which team is the Underdog, as well as what chances the sportsbook is giving each team to win the match. The odds are used to figure out the potential payout, as they determine the price of the wager.
Favorite vs. Underdog
We should all know by now what the Favorite and what the Underdog terms mean when it comes to the NFL and betting. When looking at the American odds, it is very simple to determine which team is the Favorite and which is the Underdog. The very first thing that any sports bettor will do is look at the symbol in front of the odds value. There will be either a negative (–) symbol or a positive (+) symbol. This is determined when the bettor wants to wager on the Money Line, as the other two wagering types found on the NFL betting lines use the odds as a way to determine the price of the bet.
The negative (–) symbol always represents the Favorite team, while the positive (+) symbol represents the Underdog team. Very rarely will a bettor encounter the Money Line odds that have the same symbol, but in that rare chance that they do, it will depend on the symbol and the odds value. If both symbols are negative (–), then the Favorite is determined by the larger value, but if both symbols are positive (+), the Favorite is determined by the smaller value (closest to 100).
Chances to Win
Looking at the number values, the sports bettor can determine how confident the sportsbooks are that one team will be able to beat the other, or at least determine if a match is balanced or not. There are four different, general variations that could occur:
- If the value for the Favorite and the Underdog both range from 100 – 200, then the bettor could determine that the matchup will be balanced.
- If the value for the Favorite ranges from 100 – 180 and the Underdog ranges from 180 and above, the bettor could determine that the Favorite has an advantage over the Underdog.
- If the value for the Favorite ranges from 180 and above, and the Underdog ranges from 180 and above, the bettor could determine that the Favorite outmatches the Underdog in a big way.
- If the value for the Favorite ranges from 180 and above, and the Underdog ranges from 100 – 150, the bettor could determine that the Favorite is a good team, but the Underdog has certain aspects that make it a tough opponent.
Calculating the Payout
At some of the newer and improved online sportsbooks will calculate the payout automatically based on how much you want to wager on each individual bet, but it is important to know how they get those numbers. When using American odds, the bettor needs to realize that the negative (–) and positive (+) symbols affect just how the payout is determined.
When the odds value has a negative (–) in front of it, it means the bettor has to wager that amount in order to win $100. However, when the odds value has a positive (+) in front of it, it means the bettor will win that specific amount if they wager $100. Do you see the difference? Negative means the amount to invest, and the Positive means the amount that they could win. What if a bettor doesn’t want to wager $100 or the amount that is given by the sportsbook. There is a quick and easy way to calculate how much you need to wager with to win a certain amount, as well as how much you will win by betting a certain amount.
This calculation is for betting on the Favorite:
Desired Payout | Calculation | Amount to Wager | |
$50 | (Odds / 100) x Desired Payout | $190 | |
$150 | $570 | ||
Amount to Wager | Calculation | Payout Amount | |
$80 | Amount Wagered / (Odds / 100) | $21 | |
$130 | $34 |
This calculation is for betting on the Underdog:
Amount to Wager | Calculation | Payout Amount | |
$50 | (Odds / 100) x Wager Amount | $145 | |
$150 | $435 | ||
Desired Payout | Calculation | Amount to Wager | |
$80 | Desired Payout / (Odds / 100) | $28 | |
$130 | $45 |
The American odds may seem difficult to understand, but we hope this little guide helped you understand them better. We will discuss briefly about the other two types of odds, Decimal and Fractional, in case you encounter a sportsbook with these odds.
Decimal Odds
Decimal odds are just as the name suggests, the odds value are a decimal number. When looking at the decimal odds, you can notice that there are no symbols in front of the numbers, as were used to with the American odds. Determining which team is the favorite and which the Underdog is still easy to accomplish. As there are no symbols, calculating the payout is much shorter and quicker.
Favorite vs. Underdog
As we mentioned before, there are no symbols that would help us determine which team is the Favorite and which the Underdog. Instead, we have to look at both values and determine which value is the lowest. The lowest value represents the Favorite team, while the higher value represents the Underdog team; easy enough.
Chances to Win
As with the American odds, there are certain qualities about the decimal odds that will help the bettor determine which teams have better chances of winning the Money Line bet.
- If the Favorite is between 0 – 1.50 and the Underdog is between 0 – 1.50 (but with a larger value than the Favorite), then the bettor can determine that the match will be quite balanced, and the outcome is could go either way.
- If the Favorite is between 0 – 1.50 and the Underdog is between 2.00 and above, the bettor can determine that the Favorite outmatches the Underdog, and is highly probable that they win.
- If the Favorite is between 1.00 – 3.00 and the Underdog is between 2.00 and above, the bettor can determine that even though the Favorite has good chances of winning, the Underdog is still a good opponent. The Underdog has a strength that outweighs the Favorites.
Calculating the Payout
Calculating the payout is easy to do with the decimal odds, since we do not have to take into consideration the symbols.
Amount to Wager | Calculation | Payout Amount | |
$50 | (Odds * Wager) – Wager | $13 | |
$150 | $39 | ||
Amount to Wager | Calculation | Payout Amount | |
$50 | (Odds * Wager) – Wager | $145 | |
$150 | $435 |
Fractional Odds
Fractional odds are represented by, you guessed it, a fraction. Just like with the decimal odds, there are no symbols in front of the value that would tell the bettor which team is the Favorite or the Underdog. Calculating the payout is simple, but may become confusing.
Favorite vs. Underdog
Looking at the fraction value that is given on the NFL betting lines, we can tell that there is a smaller and larger value. The fraction that is the smallest, which will become a smaller number when divided, is the Favorite, while the larger fraction, which will become a larger number when divided, is the Underdog.
For example:
Fractional Odds | Number after Division | ||
Team 1 | 11/4 (Larger) | 2.75 | Underdog |
Team 2 | 2/7 (Smaller) | 0.29 | Favorite |
As you can notice, there is an element of the Decimal odds involved in the fractional odds, but only slightly.
Chances to Win
With Fractional odds, you really can’t determine a range of values that will fit in a certain parameter. Instead, the bettor has to look at how far apart the values are from each other.
- If the Favorite and Underdog fractional values are close to each other, the bettor can determine that the teams are evenly matched, and it could go either way during the actual match.
- If the Favorite and Underdog fractional values are really far apart, the bettor could determine that the Favorite has a very clear advantage over the Underdog and has really high chances of winning.
- If the Favorite and Underdog fractional values are not close together, but not really far apart, then the Favorite has an advantage over the Underdog, but does not mean the Underdog is completely outmatched.
Calculating the Payout
Calculating the payout with fractional odds can be done several different ways, so simply pick the easiest method if you ever encounter these types of odds.
Method 1: Go in Order
Simply take the fractional odds value and go in order. Take a fraction of 11/4, it would be read as Eleven to Four odds. Simple state that the first number, or the numerator, is how much money you would win if you wagered the second number, or the denominator. In other words, you would win $11 for every $4 wagered. This is a quick and simple way to figure out the payout.
Method 2: Calculate
The second method involves calculating the payout based on the odds given.
These are all three basic types of betting odds that can be found on the NFL betting lines at any online sportsbook.