What Does a Negative Number Mean in Sports Betting?

One of the most confusing things in sports betting is figuring out what a negative number actually means. Believe it or not, the answer is not as straightforward as you might think. So let’s take a look at what a negative number in sports betting actually means, and how you should approach betting on sports when you feel like you’re getting negative numbers.

What Is a Negative Number in Sports Betting?

When you’re placing a wager on sports, you’ll often encounter odds that seem like they’re not making sense. For instance, the NBA odds might be set at -125, which would mean that the betting odds are actually 125/1, or 1.25/1. That’s quite a difference! Let’s take a closer look and see what’s going on here.

When you place a wager on sports, the odds will be shown in the form of a fraction. So, for example, if you wager $100 on the Super Bowl, the odds would be shown as 1.25/1, or 1.25 to 1 to win $100 (or $125 if you win).

This is where the confusion comes in. When you get a fraction with a denominator of 1 and a numerator of less than 1, it usually means that the number is negative. However, this is not always the case, and in some instances, a negative number can also mean that the fraction is closer to evens than it is to oddss! Let’s look at some of the more common scenarios and see how they play out. Begin by recalling that odds are usually shown in the form of a fraction, with a denominator of 1 and a numerator that represents the amount of money (or units of measure) you are wagering.

Money Line Odds Are Generally Negative

One of the most confusing things about negative numbers in betting is that they can sometimes be used in conjunction with the money line. That is, you might see an odds of -135, which would mean that you are receiving odds of 135/1 or 13.5/1 when betting on the Kansas City Chiefs in the game against the San Francisco 49ers. This would be a prime example of a situation where you might encounter a negative number when placing a wager on a game.

What Is Going On Here?

When you see odds with a denominator of 1 and a numerator of less than 1, it is usually safe to assume that you are looking at negative numbers. However, there can be exceptions to this rule. For example, the money line on the Cleveland Browns is often used in conjunction with oddsmakers trying to make a profit off of gambling, so it is possible that they might actually be showing us odds that are closer to evens than they are to oddss! In cases like this, looking at the numerator might be the key to figuring out what the odds are really representing.

Under/Over Odds Are Generally Positive

When you see odds with a denominator that is greater than 1 and a numerator that is less than 1, it usually means that you are looking at under or over odds. This can be quite the opposite of what you would see in the previous situation, with the exception being when you are seeing odds of plus/minus 120, which would actually mean that you are receiving odds of 1.2/1 or 12/1 when betting on the Los Angeles Rams to cover the San Francisco 49ers. This situation is also quite similar to what we discussed in the previous scenario, with the only difference being the numerator.

What Is Going On Here?

When you see odds with a denominator greater than 1 and a numerator that is less than 1, it is usually safe to assume that you are looking at under or over odds. As with the previous situation, there can be exceptions to this rule, but you will usually encounter this sort of scenario when the denominator is not 1.

First Half/Second Half Odds Are Generally Even

When you see odds with a denominator of 1 and a numerator that is the same, it usually means that you are looking at first half or second half odds. That is, the numerator will either be 0 or 1, indicating that the wager is on either the first eight or last eight episodes of a television show, or on either the first or second half of an NBA game. It can also be used to signify the end of a quarter in some instances, in which the numerator will be 2 or 3 to indicate that you are onto the fourth or fifth quarter.

What Is Going On Here?

When you see odds with a denominator of 1 and a numerator that is the same, it usually means that you are looking at first half or second half odds. As with the previous two scenarios, there can be exceptions when the denominator is not 1, but you will encounter this sort of situation almost exclusively when the numerator is 0 or 1.

Fractional Odds Are Generally Closer To Evens Than To Oddss

When you see odds that are comprised of a denominator greater than 1 and a numerator that is not a whole number, it usually means that you are looking at fractional odds. This can be quite the opposite of what you would see in the previous situations, with the exception being when you are seeing odds of 135, which would actually mean that you are receiving odds of 14/1 or 1.4/1 when betting on the Los Angeles Rams to cover the San Francisco 49ers. The situation is also quite similar to what we discussed in the previous scenario, with the exception being the fact that the odds are not always used in conjunction with the money line, but can also be seen as a standalone fractional odds number.

What Is Going On Here?

When you see odds that are comprised of a denominator greater than 1 and a numerator that is not a whole number, it usually means that you are looking at fractional odds. As with the previous two scenarios, there can be exceptions when the denominator is not 1, but you will often encounter this type of scenario when the numerator is not a whole number.

Short Odds Are Generally Positive

When you see odds that are short (i.e., the numerator is closer to 1 than the denominator), it usually means that you are looking at positive odds, or at least, not negative odds. This could be quite the opposite of what you would see in the previous two scenarios, with the exception again being when you are seeing odds of 135, which would actually mean that you are receiving odds of 5/1 or 0.5/1 when betting on the Kansas City Chiefs to cover the San Francisco 49ers. In the case of the 135, we are indeed looking at odds that are positive, but they are also quite a bit more than 1, which would make them closer to evens than to oddsss!

What Is Going On Here?

When you see odds that are short (i.e., the numerator is closer to 1 than the denominator), it usually means that you are looking at positive odds. As with the previous two scenarios, there can be exceptions when the denominator is not 1, but you will usually encounter this sort of scenario when the numerator is not a whole number.

Hopefully, this has helped explain what a negative number in sports betting actually means and how to determine whether or not you will win when betting on sports! Remember: odds are simply a way of measuring the popularity of a team or athlete, and it is always best to treat them as such. If you feel like you’re getting odds that are hard to understand, it’s probably best not to worry about it too much and just take your winnings (or loses).