The most important part of sports betting is the odds or lines. These numbers basically dictate both how much money you can win on a bet as well as the likelihood that your bet will cash. There are three different ways that odds are generally displayed: decimal, fractional, and American.
Decimal odds, which are most common in continental Europe but also here in Canada, are the simplest. Next to each betting market you’ll see a decimal number, and the higher that number, the less likely that bet is of hitting but the more money you stand to make if it does. For example, if you bet $10 on the Flames to win a game at 2.2 odds, you stand to win ($10 x 2.2) $22.
Fractional odds are the most common type of odds in the UK but are rarely found in North America. Each bet has a fraction next to it where the second number of the fraction represents your stake and the first represents your payout. For example, if you bet on the Flames to win a game at 5/2 odds, you’d be winning $5 off a $2 bet or $10 off a $4 bet, or $20 off an $8 bet.
The most common form of odds in North America, however, are American odds. Odds are represented by a number and either a positive (+) or a negative (-) sign. The higher the number next to a (+) sign, the higher payout and the lower your likelihood of winning, the higher the number next to a (-) sign, the lower the payout and the higher your likelihood of winning.
The number next to the (+) refers to how much money you would win from a $100 bet (though you don’t have to bet $100) and the (-) refers to how much money you need to stake to win $100. A (+) sign means there’s potential for a bigger win at more risk, while a (-) sign means you have a safer bet on which you need to invest more money to get a big payday.
For example, if the Flames odds to win the Stanley Cup before the season are at +500, a $100 bet on them would net you $500 in winnings or a $50 bet would net you $250. However, if you don’t pull the trigger and the Flames have a great season, the Flames odds could drop down to something like -150 and now you’d have to bet $150 just to win $100.
When betting on the moneyline or puckline, the (-) sign refers to the favorite that’s more likely to win, while the (+) sign denotes an underdog team that is less likely to win. For example, if you have a game where the Flames odds are -150 on the moneyline and +150 on a -1.5 puckline, that means that while the Flames are the favorites, oddsmakers think it’s more likely they’ll win by one goal than multiple.