Skip to main content

Gambling 101: What are the Most Common Betting Odds?

Our Sports Gambling 101 series continues with a look at the most common betting odds available today. What are point spread, moneyline and game total wagering options?

Constantly evolving, the variety of sports betting odds available today is more diverse than ever before. That said, standard wagering odds remain unchanged from their original format. Known as the ‘big three” betting options, moneylines, game totals and point spreads are offered on most sporting events. Understanding the intricacies of common odds formats, plus how they relate to straight bets, parlays, and prop options, is essential to cashing winning wagers.

What Are Point Spread Betting Odds?

Born in the USA, point spread odds were invented by Charles K. McNeil and were first offered to bettors in Chicago in the early 1940’s. Often abbreviated to ATS, against the spread odds are designed to create equal action on both sides of a competition. From the NFL odds example below, in order to create betting interest on Cleveland, DraftKings Sportsbook posted the Browns as +8 point underdogs. Baltimore faced a deficit, prior to kickoff, as the Ravens were -8 point chalk.


Both ATS lines are posted with (-110) juice so bettors need to wager $110 to earn a $100 return. If the Browns upset the Ravens, or lose by seven points or less, Cleveland is the winning side. Baltimore bettors cash tickets if the Ravens win by nine points or more. If Baltimore wins by exactly eight points, the bet is graded as a PUSH and original investments are returned. Point spread odds are a best bet when research reveals a high scoring offense is facing a weak defense.

What Are Moneyline Betting Odds?

Moneylines are widely recognized as the most popular betting option for recreational players. Offered on most sports gambling markets, straight up odds require bettors to select the outright winner of a completion. Since a point spread isn’t involved - prices are the great equalizer on moneyline options. Depending on the perceived talent gap, between the sides involved, straight up odds can range from +100 to upwards of +/-10000 or more. Prices vary by wagering markets.


Looking at the Miami vs. New England odds, bettors need to wager $290 to earn a $100 return on the Patriots. Players backing the Dolphins receive a $240 return, on $100 bets, if Miami pulls off the upset. Moneyline prices are also available on prop betting options and they are often preferred by parlay bettors. Rather than paying $580 to win $200, with single bets on the Patriots and Eagles, the -290 odds can be tied together to return a $161.71 profit on a $200 parlay bet.

What Are Game Total Betting Odds?

Not dependent on selecting a side to win straight up, or against the spread, standard game total odds focus on the score of a competition. Favorites on two-sided totals, which feature OVER and UNDER options, are determined by juice prices. With the odds below, UNDER cashes if the final score is 44 points or less while OVER is the winner if 45 points or more are scored. Bettors should consider OVER, as a possible best bet, when two high-scoring teams face each other.


What are Total Odds on Prop Betting Options?

Totals are also popular on a variety of player and team prop options that are offered as futures bets. Following a 2-14 finish, during the 2019 season, Cincinnati was awarded the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Bengals selected LSU quarterback Joe Burrow and DraftKings set his total passing yards at 3700.5 during his rookie season. As an example of juice stipulating the favorite - the Bengals 2020 win total was set at 5.5 with OVER (-115) as slight chalk.


Bottom Line on Standard Big Three Betting Options

Proper research and sound bankroll management are key factors to a profitable betting experience. Checking recent form, current offense and defense rankings, plus injuries, weather and venue, are part of a solid research plan. Shopping for the best odds and prices, at more than one sportsbook, can help bettors increase returns and/or reduce initial risk. Recreational players should bet within their means and enjoy the entertainment value associated with betting on sports.