Sports Betting Rules
The sports odds, or price, on a given event can be rendered by an online sportsbook
in one of three ways.
American Odds: A price listed as +800 means that the bettor
will return $800 profit on every $100 wagered, plus the original stake. +500
will return $500 profit every $100 wagered, plus the original stake.
Fractional Odds: A price listed at 8/1 means that the event
will return $800 for every $100 wagered, plus the original stake. 5/1 means
that the event will return $500 for every $100 wagered, plus the original
Decimal Odds: A price listed at 8.00 means that the bet will
return $800 for every $100 wagered. A price listed at 5.00 means that the
bet will return $500 for every $100 wagered.
Some games can be mismatches, where everybody knows who’s going to win
a particular event. This is not very interesting to bet on, because the return
on betting the favorite is not very high, and the underdog is highly unlikely
to win in the first place. The spread is what a sportsbook uses to make an event
interesting for bettors. Consider the example for betting on a professional
football game (NFL) below:
Dallas Cowboys +3.0 -110
Washington Redskins -3.0 -110
In the example, the spread is set at three points. The +3.0 after the Dallas
Cowboys means that the Cowboys are the underdog in this game; the Cowboys must
either win, or not lose by more than three points, for a bet on the Cowboys
to win. The –3.0 after the Washington Redskins means that the Redskins
are the favorite; the Redskins must win by more than three points for a bet
on the Redskins to win. If the Redskins win by exactly three points, then the
bet is said to have fallen on the spread and is deemed a push. All bets are
voided and the stakes returned in this instance. The second number, -110, after
each team is the price of a winning bet. A winning bettor will win $100 for
every $110 bet.
Over / Under Betting
Many players like to place bets on what the total points scored in a game will
be, irrespective of who wins or who loses. This is called Totals, or over/under
betting. Consider the following Over / Under odds displayed for the previous Dallas
Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins game:
Over +48.0 -110
Under +48.0 -110
In this example, the oddsmaker has decided that the total points scored in
a given game will be 48 points. If a bettor thinks there will be more than 48
points scored in the game, he or she bets the Over. If a bettor thinks that
the there will be less than 48 points scored in the game, he or she bets the
under. If the total is exactly 48 points, then the bet is deemed a push. All
bets are voided and the stakes returned in this instance. The second number,
-110, after each team is the price of a winning bet. A winning bettor will win
$100 for every $110 bet.
Many players enjoy the thrill of the parlay bet, where a number of bets are
placed one after the other, with the potential return (and the associated risk)
multiplying after each event.
Many players like to reduce the risk in a parlay bet by making a teaser bet.
A teaser bet is a parlay, or combination bet placed on pointspreads and/or totals
in football and basketball only, with the pointspread and/or total adjusted,
or "teased", to give the bettor a greater chance of winning.
A futures bet is a bet in an event where there are many competitors, sometimes
made considerably before the event takes place. Futures are most common in events
like motor racing, NASCAR, horse racing, or golf, among others. Futures are
also posted in major competitions, like Major League Baseball and the NFL, at
the start of the season, where players can get better odds on a team in which
they have confidence than they would get later in the season. Because of the
number of competitors, futures bets offer larger payouts. The larger payoffs
are offset by the increased difficulty of picking a winner.