# Help! I Don’t Understand Betting Odds

Odds are often complicated concepts. If you’re not really that
good at math and probability, it can be difficult to figure out what
odds mean and why you should care about them. Hopefully, this
article will help clear up any confusion you may have about betting
odds and the role they play in sports games.

## What Are Odds?

To put it simply, odds are the chance of something happening. When
you place a wager on a sports event, you’re basically placing a
bet on which team will win. For example, if you’ve got \$100 to wager
on the New England Patriots versus the Arizona Cardinals, the
over/under on the game is set at seven. In this example, if you
think the Patriots will win the game, you’ll place a winning bet
(call it a “win bet”) for Patriots -7. If you think the Cardinals
will win the game, you’ll make a losing bet (called a “loss
bet”) for the Patriots +7.

Odds can also apply to things like slot machines. If you’re
at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, you may be tempted to put some
quarter in that slot machine. You may even spin the wheel a
few times, feeling pretty confident that you’re going to hit the
jackpot. But here’s the problem: the odds of hitting the jackpot
on a slot machine are so slim that it would take you tens of
thousands of dollars to actually make the money back. Don’t get
me wrong, it’s fun to play the machine, but you’ll never hit the
jackpot once you realize the odds against you.

## Why Bother With Odds?

It’s important to understand how important odds are in determining
whether or not you will win or lose a bet. To use an example
from above, let’s say the over/under on the game is set at seven
and you’ve got \$100 to wager on the Cardinals. In this case,
if you think the Cardinals will win the game, you’ll place a
winning bet for Cardinals -7. Now, let’s say you have \$100 to
wager on the Patriots and the over/under is set at seven as
well. In this case, if you think the Patriots will win the
game, you’ll make a losing bet for Patriots +7. So, if you
want to be able to tell whether or not you’ll win your bet,
you’ll have to look at the odds given for both teams.

## What Are The Most Common Odds Used In Sports?

It can be tricky to keep track of all the various odds that may
apply to a particular sports game. This is especially true when
you’re not familiar with all the different sports and their
associated odds. Below, you’ll find a short list of some of the
most common odds used in sports. Keep this in mind as you continue

• Underdogs
• Underdogs
• Line moves often in favor of the underdog (dogs)
• Handicap system (generally used in horse racing)
• Over/under (general term for bets involving scoring)
• Point spread (used in NCAA sports, especially football)
• Parity (used in many horse racing bets)
• Totem animals (generally applied to college football)

## How Do Handicaps Work?

Handicaps are used when two or more sports teams are involved
in a wagering arrangement. For example, if you’ve got a big
game coming up between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red
Sox, you may bet on which team will win. If you think the Red
Sox will win the game, you can set the spread at +150. If you
think the Yankees will win, you can set the spread at -175.

This is because the Red Sox are generally considered a better
team than the Yankees. Even if you’ve got money on the line
(and who doesn’t these days), it’s best to lay off the
Sox.

## What Is A Parity Bets?

Parity bets are when you wager on whether or not a particular
sports team will win based on whether or not the team is a
winner or loser overall. For example, if you’ve got a Patriots
football team and the Cleveland Browns are the other team, you
may want to bet on which team will win. If you think the
Patriots will win the game, you can set the wager at +150. If
you think the Browns will win the game, you’ll make a
parity bet for -175.

Parity bets are also known as even-money bets because both teams
are treated equally (for the sake of calculating the final
score).

Totems are basically just like parities, except they don’t
factor in the record of the teams. A totem can be used to
calculate whether or not you’ll win or lose a particular game
based on the result of the previous game. For example, if the
previous game was between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago
Bears, and the Lions won, you may want to bet on the Bears
this time around. Just set the wager at minus the previous
game’s score.

Totems can be used to calculate many different outcomes. They’re
generally considered one of the most difficult concepts to grasp
when you’re initially introduced to betting terms. However,
once you start using them, you’ll wonder why you didn’t use
them more often.

Knowing which teams are favorites and which ones are not can be
tricky when you’re not really sure how to calculate the odds.
This is especially true if you’re not sure which teams to trust
and which ones to avoid. It’s not always easy to figure out
whether or not you should bet on the Yankees or the Red Sox.
Often times, the favorite will end up being the team you least
want to bet on. In situations like these, it’s best to avoid
betting at all.

## What Is A Line Move?

A line move is when a bookmaker moves the odds given for a
particular sports team. Sometimes, bookmakers will get
bumped by competitors who want to make a profit off of
bettors’ wagers. In these cases, the bookmakers have to move
the odds to make space for more wagers. In theory, this is
good because it means more people are putting down a wager
on their favorite team. In practice, it can be tricky
to figure out which team will win (especially when you don’t
know how to properly calculate the odds). In these situations,
it’s best to keep your money in your pocket and avoid betting
at all.

## What Is An Over/Under Or Point Spread Bet?

An over/under or point spread bet is when you wager on whether or
not a certain score will be reached by the end of the game.
For example, if you’ve got the New York Jets and the Indianapolis
Colts, and the line is set at 3.5, you may want to wager on
whether or not the score will be 20 to 17 or 17 to 17 at the end
of the game. In this case, if you think the game will end
in a 17-17 tie, you’ll make a winning bet for 17 to 17. But if
you think there’ll be a 20-17 Jets victory, you’ll lay off the
Jets as they’re generally considered a worse team than the
Colts. Over/under bets are also referred to as totals because
they include both teams. You’ll often hear people
referring to totals bets when they don’t want to explicitly
discuss one of the teams involved in the wager.