Learning Center
19.06.2023, 05:40
27.05.2024, 03:19

Understanding American Odds: Positive and Negative Signs Explained

American odds, or moneyline odds, are the standard odds format used in the United States for sports betting. They represent the price or payout for a bet and play a central role in the betting process.

It's worth noting that different countries may use different odds formats. Decimal odds and fractional odds are other standard formats you may come across in international sports betting markets.

Understanding American odds is crucial for bettors as it helps them determine the potential payout and make informed betting decisions.

Understanding American Odds

American odds, commonly used in regulated online sportsbooks in North America, features two key symbols: the plus sign (+) and the minus sign (-). The plus sign represents underdogs, while the minus sign indicates favourites. These symbols provide a quick and unambiguous indication of the outcome that is more likely according to the online sportsbook.

Pros and Cons of Using American Odds for Sports Betting

American odds have advantages and disadvantages compared to other odds formats. They are handy for quickly calculating payouts using a flat ₦100 wager. The plus sign indicates how much you will win with a ₦100 bet, while the minus sign shows the amount you need to wager to win ₦100.

However, one drawback of American odds is that they must immediately indicate the implied winning probability. Fractional odds are typically used for such calculations. For example, odds of +200 would translate to 2/1 in fractional odds, allowing for a quick determination of the implied winning probability.

Despite this limitation, American odds remain the default format for presenting betting odds at online sportsbooks and sporting events. Bettors need to familiarise themselves with American odds to navigate the world of online sports betting effectively.

American Odds vs Decimal and Fractional Odds: A Comparison

Let's compare the plus-and-minus format of odds to other styles. Regardless of the format, odds represent the same price, just presented or expressed differently.

Taking the example of +200 in American odds, we can compare it to decimal and fractional odds representations. The table below showcases the different formats for +200 in American odds:

  • American Odds: +200
  • Decimal Odds: 3.00
  • Fractional Odds: 2/1

It's important to understand that these different representations of odds convey the same underlying probability and potential payout, just in a different format.

American Odds 

Decimal Odds 

Fractional Odds




Decimal odds are not commonly used in North American sports betting. However, many online sportsbooks offer the option to switch between different odds formats.

With decimal odds, you can calculate your potential payout by multiplying the odds by your wager. For example, if you bet ₦50 at odds of 2.00, your total payout would be ₦100, including your initial stake.

Decimal odds are more prevalent in regions like the United Kingdom, where fractional odds are commonly used. They are also the standard for betting on horse races.

What Does +200 Mean

If you come across a bet with a +200 next to it while browsing an online sportsbook, it signifies that you are betting on the underdog. These odds can be associated with various types of wagers, but the monetary payout remains the same.

For instance, if you place a ₦100 bet on odds of +200 and your wager is successful, you will receive a payout of ₦200. Your virtual wallet will be credited with ₦300 (₦100 from the initial wager and an additional ₦200 in profit).

While moneyline and point spread bets differ, the odds are crucial as they indicate your potential monetary gain.

Moneyline Bets: Explained and Examples

The moneyline wager, which involves predicting the winner of a game or contest, is one of the simplest types of bets in online sports betting.

When you encounter a moneyline of +200, it signifies that the team you're betting on is considered the underdog.

Conversely, when you see a "-" sign, it indicates that the team is the favourite.

In terms of understanding the odds, think of it as representing how much you would need to wager to win ₦100.

For instance, if you come across odds of -130, you would have to wager ₦130 to win ₦100.

Point Spreads

Point spreads can be more challenging to understand as they involve both "+" and "-" odds, regardless of whether a team is considered a favourite or an underdog.

A point spread aims to level the playing field between two teams, considering their respective strengths and weaknesses.

For instance, let's consider a matchup between the Arizona Cardinals and the Buffalo Bills, where two points favour the Bills. In this case, the point spread would be represented as "-2" for the Bills and "+2" for the underdog Cardinals.

When betting on point spreads, it's important to remember the following:

  • On a "-2" point spread, the favoured team must win by more than two points to cover the spread.
  • On a "+2" point spread, the underdog team must lose by no more than two points or win the game outright to cover the spread.

For example, they would win if the final score is 24-23 in favour of the Rams. However, if you had bet on the Cardinals with a +2 point spread, the adjusted score for betting purposes would be 23-22 in favour of the Cardinals.

Point spread bets often come with odds of -110, but this can vary across different sports. It's worth noting that seeing a point spread with a "+" value is rare and may present an opportunity for value. In the NFL, where point spreads typically range between -105 and -115, a "+" point spread would be worth investigating due to its scarcity.

How to Calculate and Place Bets Using American Odds

While money lines and point spreads are standard in every sport, contextual differences depend on the sport.

For instance, point spread wagers typically come with standard odds of -110 in sports like the NBA or NFL. However, sports such as the English Premier League (EPL) or the National Hockey League (NHL) have different measures for point spreads. In baseball, the point spread is known as the run line, while in hockey, it is called the puck line.

Let's provide examples of money lines and point spreads in popular sports for better understanding:

EPL Football

English Premier League (EPL) is currently the most popular sport for betting. Regarding EPL betting odds, there are some important factors to consider.

To illustrate, let's look at a moneyline example in the EPL.

Chelsea -120 ₦83.33
FC Arsenal +110 ₦110

The slight difference in money lines suggests that the teams' perceived margin of superiority and inferiority is relatively narrow.

In the given example, a bettor would need to wager ₦120 on the Blues to win ₦100, while a ₦100 bet on the Gunners would result in a ₦110 profit if they win.

Although there is no direct correlation between the moneyline and the spread, the spread is likely to be minor, given the small gap in the moneyline.

Chelsea -2 (-110) ₦90.91
FC Arsenal +2 (-110) ₦90.91

In EPL betting, the odds are common for point spreads to remain the same. The goal of the point spread is to level the playing field between the teams, resulting in even odds.

In sports betting, it is typical to see odds of -110, where the additional -10 represents the commission for the online sportsbook if both bets receive equal wagers.

Even though both betting odds are indicated by a "-", the favourite and underdog are differentiated by the -2 and +2 in the example.

NBA Basketball

When it comes to NBA betting, the principles are similar to NFL betting. Despite the high-scoring nature of basketball, it is still common to see point spreads similar to those in the NFL.

Los Angeles Lakers -190 ₦52.63
New York Knicks +160 ₦160

There are some similarities between the NBA and the EPL, but one key difference is that the NBA can have positive (+) odds for underdogs. However, it's important to note that odds of -110 are still standard in NBA betting. Let's take a look at an example to illustrate this point.

Los Angeles Laker -8.5 (-110) ₦90.91
New York Knicks +8.5 (+100) ₦100


There are notable differences in Major League Baseball (MLB) compared to sports like the EPL and NBA. While the moneyline remains the same across sports, the point spread in MLB, known as the run line, introduces a significant distinction.

In MLB betting, the run-line odds are rarely the same for all teams. However, the standard run line is typically set at -1.5. This is significant because 1.5 runs can be a substantial margin in baseball, potentially exceeding a team's actual score. As a result, the 1.5-run line is represented differently for each team, and the odds reflect these variations.

Chicago White Sox -1.5 (+200) ₦200
Detroit Tigers +1.5 (-170) ₦58.82

NHL Hockey

In NHL betting, the odds are structured similarly to MLB betting. Just as MLB uses the run line, the NHL employs the "puck line" as its version of the point spread.

The puck line in NHL betting is typically set at -1.5 for the favourite team and +1.5 for the underdog. These odds indicate the margin by which the favourite team is expected to win or the underdog to lose. However, it's worth noting that the odds for the puck line may vary depending on the teams and the specific match.

So, while the terminology and sport may differ, the concept of the point spread remains consistent, allowing bettors to engage in similar betting strategies in both MLB and NHL.

Toronto Maple Leafs -1.5 (+140) ₦140
Cleveland Cavaliers +1.5 (-110) ₦90.92

In golf betting, the most prevalent wager is selecting the winner from a sizeable field of competitors. This type of bet is similar to betting on the moneyline in other sports, where you predict the winner.

Due to the extensive number of participants in golf tournaments, even the top favourite can have odds that position them as a significant underdog compared to other sports. The competition is fierce, and numerous skilled players are vying for victory.

Golf betting allows bettors to assess each golfer's performance, form, and skills and select based on their analysis. By considering past performances, course conditions, and player statistics, bettors can identify potential winners and place their bets accordingly.

Scottie Scheffler +1200 ₦1,200
Jon Rahm +1400 ₦1,400
Rory McIlroy +25000 ₦25,000
Patrick Cantlay +1400 ₦1,400


There are various betting options available for any sport, including the UFC.

However, the most popular type of bet in UFC is the moneyline bet, where you simply select the fighter you believe will win the match.

In UFC betting, there can be significant disparities in the betting odds. Due to the nature of the sport, which involves physicality and the possibility of a match ending with a single strike or submission, betting odds of +700 can be perceived differently compared to other sports like the NFL.

Let's consider a UFC moneyline with a relatively lopsided matchup.

Chase Sherman -425
Mounir Lazzez +340


The plus and minus signs used in betting may initially feel unfamiliar. Still, they become a standard way of assessing a team's likelihood of winning over time.

American odds provide an implied probability for a game, but sportsbooks express these probabilities as a betting price. The plus and minus symbols indicate the bet cost and the potential payout.

American odds are based on a ₦100 bet amount, but you can wager more or less depending on your preference.


What does the "+" sign mean in sports betting?

The "+" sign represents the underdog in a betting market. When you see a "+" sign before the odds, it indicates the potential profit you can make on a $100 bet. For example, +200 means winning $200 on a $100 bet if your selection is successful.

What does the "-" sign mean in sports betting?

The "-" sign represents the favourite in a betting market. When you see a "-" sign before the odds, it indicates the amount you need to bet to win $100. For example, -150 means you must bet $150 to win $100 if your selection succeeds.

Can the "+" and "-" signs be used in different sports?

Yes, the "+" and "-" signs can be used in various sports, including basketball, football, soccer, baseball, hockey, and more. They denote the odds or payouts associated with different betting options in each sport.

Do the "+" and "-" signs affect the game's outcome?

No, the "+" and "-" signs are unrelated to the game's outcome. They represent the sportsbook's odds or payouts based on a particular outcome's perceived strength or likelihood.

Can the "+" and "-" signs change over time?

Yes, the odds represented by the "+" and "-" signs can change based on betting activity, team performance, injuries, and other factors. Sportsbooks may adjust the odds to balance the betting action and reflect changes in the perceived likelihood of different outcomes.

Do the "+" and "-" signs indicate the probability of winning?

The "+" and "-" signs alone do not indicate the probability of winning. They represent the potential payouts or profits associated with a particular betting option based on the odds set by the sportsbook.

How can I calculate potential winnings using the "+" and "-" signs?

To calculate potential winnings, divide the odds by 100 and multiply the result by your stake. For example, a +200 odds would yield a $200 profit on a $100 bet. For -150 odds, you would need to bet $150 to win $100.


Only authorized users can leave comments.
Sign In
No Comments Yet
Be the pioneer! There are no comments so far, your insightful thoughts could lead the way. Share your perspective!