When you place a bet on sports, the odds generally appear in a form that’s easy to understand: X to beat Y. For example, a $10 bet on the Indianapolis Colts vs the New England Patriots at 55.00 would result in WIN: $10, loss: $55 ($45.00 in profit).
But what does all the weird math behind those odds actually mean? Let’s take a closer look.
The Odds Are Actually Decimal Odds
All odds are generally quoted in odds-formatted like the example above. To get the full odds-value of an X to beat Y game, you have to multiply the X by the opposite of Y (i.e., 1.00 * -1.00 = -2.00). Then add the Y value to the total (in this case, 55.00 + 40.00 = 95.00). Finally, you have to take the resulting sum and divide it by 100 to get the decimal odds value (i.e., 0.95). So, in this case, the decimal odds would be 0.95. For more information on odds, check out this great resource from the American Bookmaker’s Association (the “4-1-2-0” method).
Remember: when working with decimal odds, always use integer math. So 95% is actually equal to 5.5 and not 0.95. If you round down the result of a decimal calculation, you will most likely get an inaccurate result. This is why you should try to avoid using decimals in sports betting if you want to keep your profits.
When betting on sports, you will often see the point spread listed along with the odds. The spread is the amount of points by which the favorite will beat the underdog. So, in our example above, the spread is 5 points (55.00 – 40.00 = 15.00). It is usually expressed in terms of the handicap score or the number of points above or below par. For example, if the spread is 10 points in favor of the Indianapolis Colts, the underdog New England Patriots would have to score a par (24) to win the game. In this case, the total score would be 24 (with 2 points still to be played) plus 15, giving the over (35) and resulting in a victorious outcome for the Colts.
So, in general, if you ever see the point spread listed, it likely means the bet will end in a winning result for the team whose odds are farther from the number 1. For example, a -3 point spread on the New Jersey Devils would generally mean the total score would have to be below 12 (3 * 12 =) to win the game for the Devils.
While the spread is how many points the favorite will beat the underdog, the over under is how many points the favorite will have to win by against the posted odds to win the game. In our example above, the over under would be 40.00 (5 points * 2) since the over 5 points would beat the under 5 points.
Why is the over under important to note? If the over under is 10 points or less, it generally indicates a push. In other words, if the over under is 10 or less, there’s a good chance the underdog will win the game. But if the over under is more than 10 points, it usually indicates there’s a good chance of a surprise victory. For example, if the over under is 12 points and the underdog scores 11 points, it would be a push since the total would be 22 points (a 12-point over under) and the underdog would need an additional 2 points (to hit 24) to win the game. But if the underdog scores 17 points and wins by 2, it would be an upset victory since the total score would be 20 points (a 10-point over under). So if you see the over under listed, it generally means there’s a chance of a surprise victory for the underdog.
You may have also heard about handicap betting, in which you’re given the points value of one team minus those of the other. For example, the New England Patriots’ points are -3, while the Indianapolis Colts are +3. In this case, the handicap would be New England Patriots -3 vs. Indianapolis Colts +3, or -7. To find the result of the game, you would add up the handicap times the number of points scored (in this case, -3 * 24 = -72). Then, to get the decimal odds value of the game, you would multiply this figure by 100 and then divide that result by 1,000 to get the decimal handicap odds value (i.e., -7.2 or -0.72).
If you’re curious, here’s a quick explanation of the math behind handicap odds: First, multiply the handicap value by the number of points scored (in this case, 24). Then, to get the decimal odds value, divide the resulting sum by 1,000 (to remove the decimal).
Last but not least, let’s talk about tiebreakers. Basically, when two or more teams are tied at the end of a game, the rules of the game dictate how the match will be resolved. In our example, if the score is tied at 24 points each, the rules state that a sudden death overtime will ensue. During this time, the team scoring the most goals wins the game. In the event of a tie, the goal difference is used as a tiebreaker. In our example, since there were 2 goals scored but no goal difference, the New England Patriots would win the game.
As you can see, there are many odds-related terms that you might see while betting on sports. But remember: if you use these terms without knowing their meanings, you could easily lose money. Don’t worry, though, because all you need is good information and smart decisions to get rich from betting. And that’s exactly what this article is meant to help you with.