What Do The + and The – Signs Mean in Sports Betting?

what do the + and - signs mean in sports betting?

There’s one way to make any sporting event more exciting: sports betting. When you look at odds or point spreads, the + and – signs indicate how likely one team is to win over another. In each type of sports betting, they represent slightly different things. We’re going to cover what these signs mean in both moneyline betting odds and point spreads. 

What Do + and – Mean in Moneyline Odds?

Moneyline odds are an increasingly popular form of sports betting. Also referred to as American Odds, this is when you bet on which team will win. The signs indicate the probability of one team beating another. 

In moneyline odds, the + and – signs stand for a few things:

  • They tell you which team is favored to win. A – sign (or lower number) indicates the favored team, while a + tells you who the underdog is. In other words, these signs tell you which team is more likely to win.
  • They represent how much you need to bet to win 100 dollars. This gives you an idea of how probable a payout is.

To win the moneyline, your chosen team simply needs to win the game (the final score doesn’t matter).

If you like to bet on safer odds, you’ll want to look for the lowest numbers in the moneyline. A negative sign indicates that the team is the favorite or the one that’s more likely to win. This is based on a few statistics, including each team’s wins and losses, injuries, and the current matchup. The lower number is the team that’s more favored to win, which means it won’t necessarily have a negative sign (but it usually does). It also tells you the amount of money you need to bet to win. Let’s imagine that you’re betting on the Golden State Warriors in the NBA. If you see that the Golden State Warriors are -200 against the Brooklyn Nets (who are +200), then you’d need to bet $200 to win $100. 

Do you like to root for underdog teams? Or perhaps you like greater payouts for betting less money. A positive sign indicates that the team is less favored to win. The bigger the number, the less likely that team is to win. This means that your chances of winning the bet are lower, but it also means you’ll have a greater payout if you win. To demonstrate this, imagine that you’re betting on the Dallas Cowboys. Their moneyline is +300 against the Philadelphia Eagles, who are -100. If you bet $100 and the Dallas Cowboys win, then you win $300 (for a total of $400, after factoring in your initial bet). A positive moneyline tells you what the payout will be if you bet 100 dollars.

Which team should you bet your money on: the one that’s favored, or the underdog? Here’s another example to help you decide: The Winnipeg Jets and the Los Angeles Kings are playing each other. The Jets are listed at -200, while the Kings are +400. This tells you that the Jets are the clear favorite against the underdogs, the Kings. Say you placed a bet on the Jets—you’d need to pay $200 for a shot at winning $100. If you decide to go with the Kings, you’ll only need to pay $100 to win $400. Here you can see the payout differences, but also the differences in risk. Since the Winnipeg Jets have a lower number, you know a bet would be safer on them. But anyone who’s been following sports betting for years knows that teams beat the odds all the time.

Of course, you don’t need to bet 100 dollars exactly; it’s just a common number that helps you calculate the potential payout in sports betting. For a team with a moneyline of +150, you’d win $15 for a bet of $10. You can bet any amount of money that you see fit. 

What Do + and – Mean in Point Spreads?

Now that you know what the – and + signs mean in moneyline odds, let’s go over how they relate to point spreads. With point spreads, you aren’t just betting on which team wins or loses—you’re also betting on how many points they’ll win by. Positive (+) teams are the underdogs, while negative (-) teams are favored to win. But instead of referring to amounts of money, the numbers indicate the point margin that a team must win (or not lose) by. If you bet on a favored team, they must win by more than that number of points; for underdogs, they either need to win outright or lose by less than the point spread.

Depending on the type of sport you’re betting on, you’ll see different key numbers. Take the NFL, for example; points are scored in increments of 3 (a field goal), 7 (a touchdown), and 10 (both a field goal and a touchdown). Here’s one example: The Green Bay Packers play the Detroit Lions. The point spread for the Packers is -7; for the Lions, it’s +7. If you bet on the Packers, they must win the game by more than 7 points. Say the final score is 30-27 for the Packers. The team that you bet on only won by 3 points, so you would not win the bet, since they did not cover the spread.

On the other hand, you would win the spread if you bet on the Lions. The underdog team needs to either win against the favorite or lose by less than the point spread (in this example, that’s 7 points). A final score of 30-27 for the Giants means that a point spread bet for the Lions would result in a win, even though they lost the game! Who knew you could make money by betting on the losing team?

But what happens if your team wins by the exact number of points in the spread? In sports betting, that’s called a push. You’ll get your money back, without winning or losing any. Sometimes, you’ll see point spreads with half numbers (like -6.5) just to avoid a push.

Once you understand what + and – mean in sports betting, you can see how exciting this hobby can be. Kyle Covers Spreads provides parlay picks for a range of sports, including NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, and NCAAB. For access to his premium picks, consider one of the VIP All Access options.