How Does the Plus/Minus Work in Betting?

The Basics

You place a bet (you “bet” the “spread”) on the outcome of an event. If the event occurs, you win your bet; if it doesn’t, you lose your bet.

The bookmaker (the “house”) makes money off your winning bets and covers your loses. For example, if you bet $100 on a horse race and it wins, the bookmaker will give you $100 back plus some small amount of money based on what they have on hand (the “margin” or “leverage”). The amount of money they have on hand is called the “sticky wicket” or “takeaway.”

How Does It Work?

To better understand how the plus/minuses work, let’s walk through an example. Say you place a $20 bet on the next horse to win the Kentucky Derby. If the horse crosses the finish line in first place, you win $20; if it comes in last, you lose your $20 bet. Now, if the horse wins, the bookmaker will give you $20 back (your winnings) plus some small amount of money they have on hand (their “takeaway” or “leverage”). The takeaway is typically 0.9% to 1.5% of the total stake per bet (in this case 0.9% to 1.5% x $20 = $18.30 to $30.45).

In our example, the plus/minus in betting works just like this:

  • $20 on the Derby winner
    • You win $20 if the horse wins
    • You lose $20 if the horse loses
  • This example shows you the importance of “leverage.” When you bet with leverage—in this case, 20 to 1—the small amount of money you bet with can add up quickly. In our example, if the Derby winner takes off at a fast pace, you could potentially win $180 (2 x $100) or lose $180 (2 x $20).

    The Appeal

    With most sportsbooks you’ll find the appeal process easy and transparent. If you make a mistake or have a question about the outcome of an event, you can get in touch with customer support and have your concerns addressed. On the plus side, you can ask for help if you’re unsure of how to use the platform properly or what settings to use when placing a bet. Additionally, you can contact customer support with any issues that arise and take advantage of any special offers they may have.

    There are many legitimate uses for the plus/minus in betting. If you’re looking for an easy way to lose money, you might want to avoid using this feature. On the other hand, if you’re looking to make easy money, you might find that this feature works to your advantage.