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How to Read Sports Betting Odds

The art of wagering on the outcome of sports is an act that is as old as sports themselves. In all manner of sport, there have always been those who bet on the side they think will come out on top. Sports betting is as old as the time of ancient Rome, where spectators would bet on which warrior would win a given duel. Or sometimes people would bet simply on who would survive a massive multi-man spectacle filled sometimes with exotic beasts.

The art of wagering is also as sophisticated as the betting sports themselves. You can participate in a sports wager at any professional bookmaker (an official betting place), online sports betting exchange, or sports betting facility located in many casinos.

But of course, to use and enjoy such a sophisticated process, you must first understand it. It is made to be precise and easy-to-understand with details about the odds and point spread details the betting place (book) offers.

Here is a breakdown of each aspect of the betting lines and what each number, symbol (plus or minus), and letter means, and how to properly interpret them.

And here is an example:

NEP – 5.5 110 – 505
PIT + 5.5 110 + 350
34.5 ov-110

The Letters
There is nothing special about the letters – they simply represent the name of the two teams playing so you can identify the individual rates associated with each team. NEP in this example represents the New England Patriots, and PIT represents the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Point Spread
These numbers next to the letters of the teams are known as the point spread. The outcome of the point spread betting is determined by what the corresponding team will win or lose by, not who will win.

For example, next to the Patriots, you can see the number – 5.5. This number will tell you two things in a point spread bet. The first, is that the Patriots are the team favorites as they are always represented with a minus sign, and the underdogs with a plus sign. the second is that the number is indicative of how much the bookmaker predicts the favorite team will win by.

If you bet on the point spread number of the favorite team, they must win the game, and win the game by at least 6 points or more in our example for you to win the bet. And if you wager on the underdog, they must either come within 6 points of the favorite team when they win, or beat them outright for you to win the bet.

The half-point shown in this example is typical practice of bookmakers, but not a universal practice. Where they are present your team, favorite or underdog, has to score at least a half-point better than the bookmaker’s predictions to win the bet. but sometimes point spreads will feature whole numbers.

When this happens, it’s possible for both teams to score a push, wherein if they score exactly 5 points if the example had 5 instead. All money is returned to the betters and nobody wins anything.

The Wager Rate
The second number next to the point spread is the wager rate. This is the standard rate for betting, and it tells you how much you have to bet in order to win $100. For example, you must bet $110 in order to win $100 if bet is correct. It is listed to show the amount in hundreds for simplicity’s sake, but isn’t the minimum amount you can bet. For example, you can bet a minimum of $11 to win $10.

The Money Line
The numbers next to the wager rate are known as the money line. This information is for those not interested in betting on a point spread, but for betting on a team to outright beat the other. This number indicates how much you will win for every $100 you bet on the underdog to win, and how much you must bet on the favorite to win an extra $100 if they win.

If you bet on the Patriots, you’ll win $100 for every $505 you bet. If you bet on the Steelers, you’ll win $350 for every $100 you bet on them. Again, these numbers are listed in the hundreds for simplicity’s sake, but aren’t a requirement. For example, betting $50.5 on the Patriots will earn you $10 should they win.

The Over-Under
Lastly, the final line underneath both teams is the over-under, the final type of bet you can wager at. The over-under bet concerns not who wins or loses, but the combined number of points both teams will score. Betting over this number means betting that the combined score of the two teams will be over this number, while betting under means the opposite.

And the number next to the over-under line is the wager rate for the line, telling you how much you must bet in order to win $100. It functions the same way as the wager rate, but for the over-under line.

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