Betting odds and lines from a sportsbook can be confusing at first, but they aren’t that hard to understand. In order to help you understand betting odds, we will use +1.5 as an example.
When you see a +1.5 in front of a team’s name, that means that they are 1.5-point underdogs in that matchup. Here is what this might look like from a sportsbook:
Chicago Bulls -1.5
Miami Heat +1.5
This means that sportsbooks believe that the Chicago Bulls have a higher probability of winning the game over the Miami Heat. Setting the line at just 1.5 does mean that these two teams are extremely close.
This is what is called a “spread” bet, or “betting against the spread.” This is a very common bet in basketball and football games, but it is seen in other sports as well.
I this case, the Chicago Bulls would have to win the game by at least two points to be declared a winner of the bet. The Miami Heat can actually lose the game but must keep the final score within 1.5 total points.
Even though we are using +1.5 for this exercise, spreads are usually more spread out than this. There can be spreads of all different lengths, and it just depends on the sport, as you can see below.
If you are betting on a team with a (+) in front of their odds, they are viewed as the underdog in a particular matchup. A team with a (-) in front of their odds are considered the favorite in that matchup.
+1.5 Means Different Things Depending on The Sport
Almost all sports offer spread betting, but they behave differently depending on the sport. The most common sports that offer spread bets are basketball and football, but baseball, hockey, and soccer offer spread bet variations.
In fact, baseball, hockey, and soccer commonly set the run or goal line at 1.5, which rarely changes. The underdog will almost always be listed at +1.5, while the favorite will be listed at -1.5.
There is not a ton of scoring in those three sports so there aren’t any large spreads. The spreads don’t increase even if one team is a huge favorite in a particular matchup.
Lines Can Always Move
Another thing to keep in mind is that lines can always move, and most of them will move several times before a game begins. If you see a line of +1.5 on a football or basketball game, look for that line to be adjusted when it gets closer to the start of a game.
There are several reasons that lines move, and it’s important for you to try to figure out why they are moving before placing a bet. Lines typically move because there are changes in financial circumstances, players are being injured, or there is some other news that may affect the likely outcome of a game or match.
If you ever see a line completely shift and change who is favored in a matchup, do some research to see if you can figure out what may have caused this.
For those of you who are interested in bet online, we recommend creating an account with DraftKings:
Further reading about betting
To understand more about how sports betting works, check out our betting guides:
- How Betting Odds Work
- What Moneyliney, Spread Betting and Totals Mean
- How Sportsbooks Make Money
- What Are Prob Bets and Futures Bets?
- In-play and Live Betting
- Making Your First Sports Bet