What Does the + and – Mean in Sports Betting?

Plus and Minus Signs in Sports Betting

You’ve probably seen odds displayed with the use of plus and minus signs. These signs should tell you about the outcome of your bet, but they can sometimes be confusing.

What do the + and - mean in sports betting odds, and how do you read betting lines? How do you interpret these numbers and determine how much to bet and how much you’ll win?

What Do the + and - Signs Mean in Sports Betting?

Contrary to what rookie sports bettors think, betting isn’t just about listening to your gut and choosing a team to win.

Bookmakers or oddsmakers assign numerical values or odds to a team or player to imply the advantage or disadvantage of the team in a particular sporting event.

Plus and Minus Signs in Moneylines

Odds represent the likelihood or probability of an outcome. There are three types of odds available in sports betting: decimal odds, fractional odds, and moneyline odds.

Decimal odds show the amount you win for every $1 you wagered. The number indicates the total payout, instead of profit, which makes calculating its total payout easier.

Meanwhile, fractional odds are written with a slash (/) or a hyphen (-). For example, 7/1 or 7-1 is read as “seven-to-one.”

A fractional listing of 7/1 odds means that you can win $7 for every $1 you bet, in addition to getting back your dollar (your initial bet).

Odds are based on a team’s historical stats, plays, and other factors that may affect the game or the matchup.

You’ll also find plus and minus signs in moneyline odds, also called American odds. Bookmakers (bookies) in the U.S. often use this type of odds to present a team’s chances of winning the game.

For example, in an NBA matchup between the Indiana Pacers and the Los Angeles Lakers, the odds are shown as follows. Notice the signs attached to the odds.



Indiana Pacers


Los Angeles Lakers


In a moneyline bet, you’ll just straight-up choose which one of these teams you think will win. But the signs in these odds can make or break your betting success.

The signs tell you which team is favored to win (the favorite) and which team is expected to lose (underdog).

The Los Angeles Lakers, with the negative sign on the odds, are the favorite. In contrast, the Indiana Pacers with the positive sign on the odds are the underdog.

When you read odds like this in moneyline betting, remember that the underdog is always the team with the (+) plus sign while the favorite is always the one with the (-) negative sign.

Besides simply knowing the favorite and underdog teams, the negative and positive odds can determine the amount of bet you have to place and the potential profits you can make when you win this bet.

For instance, in the NFL game between Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets, you see the following moneyline odds:



New York Jets


Kansas City Chiefs


The clear favorite in this example is the Chiefs, and the underdog is the Jets. Now, let’s examine how the odds can indicate how much you should stake and how much is your expected return.

The Chief’s odds at -180 means that you have to bet $180 to win $100. This is also known as a negative moneyline. The negative number shows the amount of money you need to bet to win a hundred dollars.

Let’s look at the Jets with +200 odds. The positive number shows the possible amount of money you can profit from this bet.

In this instance, if you bet $100 on the Jets, you can win $200 plus your initial stake.

If you bet a hundred dollars on the Chiefs and win, you’ll get a total payout of $180. If you win betting on the Jets, you’ll get a total of $300.

Bear in mind that you don’t have to bet a hundred dollars every time you bet on the moneyline. The amount of money you’re willing to bet depends on how you want to manage your bankroll.

To compute your possible profits, you can follow the formula below:

For positive moneyline odds (underdog)

Potential Profit = bet x (Odds/100)

For negative moneyline odds (favorite)

Potential Profit = bet / (Odds/100)

Most online sportsbooks incorporate vigorish or vig into these odds. A vig is the sportsbooks’ cut in every bet you place. Look at it as the money you pay in exchange for their service to process your bets.

This vig is baked into the odds that affect your payout amount. To know the true odds of the matchups, you need to compute the implied odds and remove the vig using an odds calculator.

These implied odds, also known as the implied probability, are the conversion of odds to percentage. It implies the expected possibility of an outcome happening.

Plus and Minus Signs in Spread Betting

Another type of bet where you can encounter the plus and minus signs is when you look at the match’s point spread.

Point spreads are a bet on the margin of victory of a particular sporting event. In the NHL (National Hockey League), a point spread is called a puck line, while in the MLB (Major League Baseball) it’s called a run line.

Your victory on the point spread bet is not the same as that on the straight bet where you just choose the team or player you think will win.

Winning your point spread bets depends on the final scores of the teams.

For example, you want to bet your money on the NFL Super Bowl spread, and the bookie assigns odds like this:


Point Spread


New England Patriots



Atlanta Falcons



Like the moneyline, the plus and minus sign in the point spread implies the favored team and the underdog.

In the example above, the Patriots are the 1.5-point favorite, while the Falcons are the 1.5-point underdog.

Beyond assigning the underdog and the favorite, sportsbooks establish point spreads to balance or even out the action on each side of the bet.

Since point spreads are all about the number of points accumulated in a game, your team should cover the spread set by the bookie for you to win the bet.

How do you cover the spread? Let’s go back to the Patriots and Falcons’ point spread odds.

Betting on the favorite with a -1.5 spread means that the favored team should win by two or more points to be victorious in your bet.

On the other hand, when you bet on the underdog with a +1.5 spread, the team should either win the game outright or not lose by 2 points or more for you to win the bet.

The point spread uses half points to avoid the final point margin landing exactly on the point spread and creating a push or a tie.