What the Numbers on Sports Betting Mean

The odds and stats on sports betting aren’t always easy to follow, which makes interpreting them even more of a challenge. If you’re struggling to make sense of the numbers, here’s a guide to interpreting the odds and stats that you’ll find on any sports betting website.

Understanding The Odds

The main stat most people will be familiar with is the bookmaker’s profit margin. Odds of 1.5 to 2.0 usually mean the bookmaker is making between 50% and 75% profit, while odds below 1.5 mean the bookmaker is making more than 75% profit. (The “house edge” is the amount of money a bookmaker makes on a typical wager; it varies between 2% and 15% depending on the odds and sportsbook.)

An alternative way of looking at this is through the lens of expectation. If you’re putting $100 on a game and it ends up winning by 3 points, you’ll feel pretty good about your $100. But if it ends up winning by 1 point, you’re going to be pretty upset with your $100. The difference between those two outcomes is the bookmaker’s profit margin. It’s a fairly simple concept: the higher the expectation, the higher the bookmaker’s profit margin.

Another important concept to grasp is parlays. A parlay is when you combine two or more events that occur within the same game to create one wager. For example, if you think that Tom Brady will score a touchdown and that the 49ers will cover the point spread, you can create a wager where you win $100 if both of those things happen. Because of the high degree of correlation between individual games, sportsbooks will often provide odds for parlays.

The Total Number Of Outs)

The total number of “outs” (the total number of people who bet on the opposite side of the bet) is also a pretty informative stat. It shows you the strength of the opposition. If the number is high, it means there’s a lot of money on the opposite side of your bet and you need to be careful not to let the books get the better of you. If the number is low, it means the opposite: there’s not a ton of money on the opposite side of your bet and you can probably safely increase your wager without fear of losing your shirt. (Of course, this is assuming you’re playing responsibly and you avoid some of the more sketchy books out there.)

The Point Spread

The point spread is simply the amount by which the favorite is favored to win. For example, if you’re playing a moneyline bet and the favorite is listed as +110, that means you’ll win $110 if the 49ers win the game. But if you’re playing the over/under, the spread is more difficult to interpret. The over/under simply means that the total number of points scored will be above or below a certain number. For example, if the total is 49 points and the over/under is 45, that means the game will have at least 10 points to spare.

The Trends

Some sportsbooks will list the current trends for each team or player. These can be pretty handy because they give you an idea of whether or not the bookmaker thinks your team is a good bet for the win. Just remember: the trends are never a sure thing and they can frequently change, so don’t put too much stock into them. (And yes, you can put stock in them: they’re just not always that reliable.)

The Weather

Many sportsbooks will list the current weather conditions in the stadium where the game is being played. It’s important to understand how much the weather effects the outcome of athletic events. There are numerous examples of games that were stopped or altered due to weather conditions. Football and baseball are particularly susceptible to bad weather: if the game is stopped due to bad weather, it’s considered a “rainout,” and that means you lose your wager. If the game is altered due to bad weather, it’s considered a “wipeout,” and that means you lose your wager. (In all cases, the bookmaker will refund your stake in full.)

How To Make The Most Of This Information

With all this information being thrown at you, how can you make the most of it? There are two things you need to do. First, you need to learn how to play efficiently. Second, you need to learn how to play responsibly. With a little bit of preparation and homework, you’ll be able to maximize your winnings and minimize your losses. So don’t forget about that $100 bill. It’s time to spend it!