How to Read Betting -2.5 Points

Sports betting can be a fun way to pass the time, but it can also be very addictive. Since it’s one of the most popular gambling themes, it’s no wonder that more and more people are becoming interested in learning how to read betting odds and apply that knowledge to their real-life wagers.

Whether you’re just getting started or are already more experienced, it’s never a bad idea to learn a few essential betting terms and techniques. Doing so can help you increase your winnings and enjoy the game more. Let’s take a look at some of the most crucial terms and concepts associated with betting. We’ll cover 2.5 points of entry, and you’ll learn a thing or two about each.


Usually, when we think of wagers we think of sports betting. But that’s certainly not the only kind. In Hollywood movies, wagers are often included in the dialogue, so it’s worth your while to learn the lingo. For example, you might hear talk of a “studio wager” or a “television wager.”

Speaking of which, let’s dive into the basic terms associated with sport betting. A wager is an agreement between two or more individuals or entities to settle a sporting event or a piece of sports betting on the result. For example, let’s say that you and I decide to bet on the Super Bowl this year. We might make that wager in the following ways:

  • By placing a wager on the game through a bookmaker. (A bookmaker is a type of betting shop that specializes in sports betting.)
  • By placing a wager on the game through a Las Vegas sports book. (A sports book is a place where you can put down your wager in advance of the big game. The money will be held for you until the game is finished.)
  • By placing a wager on the game through a televised sports channel. (The television station will show the game and collect the money on your behalf.)
  • By placing a wager on the game through a website or mobile app that specializes in sports betting.

In all cases, a wager is something you agree to do in advance of the sporting event. Once the event has happened, you can either pay up or fold. If you win, you’ll pay the other party the amount you bet. If you lose, you’ll either have to pay them the amount you bet or give them the opportunity to take you to court and win you back.


If you laid a wager last year on the Super Bowl and the Patriots won, then you would have to pay up. But if you happen to be a New England fan, then you can blame me. Most sports books will let you lay bets that are pre-paid, which means you don’t have to worry about the oddsmaker’s favorite team winning. Instead, they’ll give you credit for the wager, regardless of the final result.

Another important term to understand when reading betting odds is the expression of the “bankroll.” The bankroll is the amount of money you are willing to wager on the outcome of the game. For example, if you have $100 and you want to make a $50 wager, your bankroll will be $100.

Knowing your bankroll is crucial because it will change the way you look at the bookmakers’ odds. If you are looking to make a quick buck, then you should definitely keep your bankroll low. But if you are looking to place a long-term wager on the outcome of a big game, then you might want to consider increasing your bankroll.


As a general rule, the odds are the proportions at which you can expect the winning horse in a race. For example, a $2.00 favorite will pay $3.00 to win, while a $1.00 underdog will win you $2.00. When you are reading odds, always use this general rule of thumb:

  • The favorite is the horse with the higher number next to its name (2/1, 5/1, etc.).
  • The underdog is the horse with the lower number (1/1, 4/1, etc.).

Another very important point to make about odds is that they will inevitably change. If you are lucky enough to get information about upcoming horse races as soon as they’re published, you can bet that the favorites and the odds will be updated within 24 hours of the last race.


The spread is the amount of money (or betting units) you are paying to get a piece of action on a specific sport outcome. The way a spread works is that you are effectively getting 2.5 times the amount you bet. For example, the 49ers might be listed as 4.5-point favorites over the Packers, while a $100 bet will get you $225 in return (2.5 times $100). Or, you might see the Eagles listed as 7-point underdogs and a $100 bet will net you $175 (2.5 times $100).

As a general rule, spreads will be wider in the summer and during the week, while they are narrower at the beginning and end of the season and on holidays. If you can find a way to consistently use this information, it can make a huge difference in your winnings and how much you enjoy the game.


The payout is the amount of money you will get paid on a wager if the favored team wins. For example, if one of the teams is the New York Jets and you wager $100 on them, you will win $275 if they win. If they lose, you’ll lose $100 (this is the payout).

As a rule of thumb, the payout percentage will always be higher for favorites than underdogs. For instance, the Jets might be a 10-point favorite and the payout might be 10% (0.1), while the over/under might be 8% or 9% (0.09 or 0.1).

Additionally, the payout percentage will always be higher if you bet on favorites than it is if you bet on underdogs. For example, the over/under for the 2019 Super Bowl was 58%, while the payout for the favorites was 62%. In 2020, the under/over for the Super Bowl was 56%, and the payout was 60% for the favorites. The difference is only 4%, but it can mean the difference between winning or losing a significant amount of money.


The risk is the amount of money you are taking on a wager. For example, if you place a $100 wager on the Super Bowl and it ends up being a 50-50 shot (favorite/underdog), your risk is $50. Most sports books will give you the option of lowering your risk by using different betting strategies. For instance, if you want to take on less risk, you might want to bet on long-shots or splits. (A long-shot is a horse that is not one of the five horses directly ahead of it in the line. A split is a type of bet that gives you the opportunity to win based on the outcome of two or more races at the same time. For example, you might bet on the Colts -3.5 against the spread in the first race, and if they win, you’ll win $100. If they lose, you’ll win $100 minus your initial stake on the Colts.)

If you are just getting started, it’s recommended that you use the lay or split betting strategies to minimize your risk. You can also use parlays or teasers to gain extra points in the direction of your desired outcome. (A parlay is when you combine two or more wagers into one bet. For example, if you are on a winning streak and you want to bet on the Super Bowl, you can combine your previous wagers on the game into one large bet. The money will be held for you until the end of the season. At that point, you will be notified of the winnings.)

Additionally, the type of wager you make will determine your risk. For example, you might go over (or under) on the Vegas odds for an upcoming game, but you’ll be taking on more risk because you are choosing to wager on the outcome. If you want to lower your risk, then you might want to consider going under on the odds (sometimes this is called “taking advantage of the line”).