What Does Plus and Minus Mean in Betting?

Understanding odds is crucial when it comes to betting on sports, and you’ve come to the right place to learn more about plus and minus betting and what these symbols mean in the context of sports betting.

In this article, we will provide a comprehensive overview of how American odds work, highlighting their differences from decimal and fractional odds. We will also explain how plus and minus signs are used in various types of bets and provide guidance on how to sign up for the best online sportsbooks to start betting with these odds.

What Does Plus and Minus Mean in Betting?

Plus and minus are common terms used in sports betting that refer to the American odds format. This format is used primarily in the United States and Canada, and it is based on the concept of betting $100. The plus and minus signs indicate whether a team or player is favored or unfavored to win a particular game or match.

In American odds, the plus sign is used to represent the underdog, while the minus sign is used for the favorite. For example, if the New York Yankees are playing the Boston Red Sox, and the Yankees have a plus sign next to their odds, it means they are the underdogs, and a bet on them would pay out more money if they win. On the other hand, if the Red Sox have a minus sign next to their odds, it means they are the favorites, and a bet on them would pay out less money if they win.

Plus and minus are also commonly used in total bets and spreads. In a total bet, the sportsbook will set a total number of points, runs, or goals that both teams are expected to score. Bettors can then bet on whether the total score will be over or under that number. If the total score is exactly the same as the number set by the sportsbook, the bet is considered a push, and the bettor receives their money back.

In a spread bet, the sportsbook will set a point spread, which is a number of points that the favorite must win by in order for a bet on them to pay out. Conversely, the underdog can lose by up to that same number of points and still pay out a winning bet. In spread betting, the plus and minus signs are used to indicate which team is the favorite and which is the underdog, just like in regular American odds. The only difference is that the plus or minus sign is also used to indicate how many points the favorite must win by or how many points the underdog can lose by and still pay out a winning bet.

How Do American Odds Work?

American odds are a way of expressing the likelihood of an outcome in a sporting event or other form of gambling. They work around the number 100 and are displayed with either a plus (+) or minus (-) sign, followed by a number. If the odds are displayed with a plus sign, you would win that amount if you placed a $100 bet. If the odds are displayed with a minus sign, it indicates the amount you would need to bet in order to win $100.

To work out your return from US odds you need to use a simple formula: (100/odds)*stake. So you divide 100 by the odds on a selection and, whatever that number is should be multiplied by your stake.

An example can be found in the image below where, in the MLB, the Baltimore Orioles take on the Washington Nationals.

betonline over under

In this example, the Baltimore Orioles are priced at -140 in the moneyline, making them the favorites, whereas the Washington Nationals are +130, making them the underdogs. If you placed a $100 bet on the Nationals and they pulled it off, you would secure a profit of $130 on top of your returned stake.

The Orioles are -140, meaning that you would need to stake $140 to earn a $100 profit. However, should you stake $100 and need to work out your return you would divide 100 by the odds (140) which gives you 0.71 and then multiply that by your stake, to see a profit of $71.

How to Calculate Your Payout

When you bet with plus and minus odds at an online sportsbook, your potential payout based on your stake will typically be automatically displayed, so you won’t need to calculate it yourself. However, if you want to know how to calculate your own payout, it is possible to do so with American odds. Although it may initially seem confusing, it is actually quite simple and can be done in just a few seconds with the help of a calculator.

As American odds have + and – betting there are two formulas depending on if you are betting on the positive or negative odds. We will take a look at an example from an MLB game between the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Guardians.

BetOnline odds how to calulate American odds

Profit Formula for Positive American Odds = (Odds/100) x Wager

In this example, the Yankees are +132, therefore:

Profits for a $50 bet on the Yankees = (132/100) x 50 = $66

You would receive a payout of $116 which is your $66 profit plus your $50 stake.

Profit Formula for Negative American Odds = (100/odds) x Wager

In this example the Guardians are -143, therefore:

Profits for a $50 bet on the Guardians = (100/143) x 50 = $34.97

You would receive a payout of $84.97 which is your $34.97 profit plus your $50 stake.

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How + and – Works With Different Markets

There is a wide range of different betting markets in sports, and while plus and minus betting with American odds works the same for all of them, there are some cases where the plus and minus symbols may refer to something different. Below, we will go through some of the most popular types of sports bets and how the plus and minus symbols are used in each of these markets.


Moneyline betting is one of the most popular and simplest plus and minus betting types to understand. In this type of bet, you are wagering on what player or team is going to win outright.

In most cases, there will be a favorite and an underdog. The favorite will have negative odds and the underdog will have positive odds. In certain games or events, the oddsmakers may think that either team has as good a chance as the other of winning and the odds for either team will be the same.

Point Spread

In spread betting, you are betting on the margin of victory rather than who will win and there are two sets of plus and minuses in spread bets. The first set is for the odds like a moneyline.

The other set of plus and minus is in relation to the points spread. The favorite will have a minus sign and the underdogs will have a plus sign and this relates to the number of points, runs, goals, etc. that a team will need to win by or not lose by more than.

What Does Plus and Minus Mean in Betting?

In the example given, the Chicago Bulls are considered the underdogs because the spread is +5.5, which means a bet on them would be a winner as long as they either win the game outright or lose by 5 and a half points or less. The Miami Heat, on the other hand, are the favorites, and they would need to win by 5 and a half points or more for a bet on them to be a winner.

The odds on either bet are the same at -110, which is the standard odds you will find on spread bets whether you are betting on the favorite or the underdog. Although the odds may differ slightly, it’s typically going to be around -110. However, many sportsbooks will also offer alternate lines, where the spread changes, meaning a team will either need to win by more or lose by less than the standard spread. The odds on alternate lines can differ significantly.

Over / Under 

Over/under bets also known as totals are bets on whether the points, goals or runs will be higher or lower than an agreed-upon value. The most common type of over/under bet is betting on the combined score of a game.

In the image below the total value is set at  228, meaning that if the combined score of the Heat and the Hawks in their game is above 228 the over bet would be a winner and if it’s lower than this value then the under bet would be a winner. If the amount was exactly 228 the bet would be a push.What Does Plus and Minus Mean in Betting?

The odds are almost always set at -110 for both the over and under bets although they can be slightly different. Like with spreads, there are alternate lines also available for totals at many sportsbooks.

Odds Conversion Table – American Odds vs. Fractional Odds vs. Decimal Odds

In the United States, most sportsbooks have the odds display set to American odds as default. However, most also have the option to change this to either fractional odds or decimal odds. In the table below you can see how the odds are shown across the different formats and the implied probability of the odds.

American Odds (Moneyline) Fractional Odds Decimal Odds Implied Probability
-10000 1/100 1.01 99%
-500 1/5 1.2 83.3%
-400 1/4 1.25 80%
-300 1/3 1.33 75%
-200 1/2 1.5 66.7%
-110 10/11 1.91 52.4%
+100 1/1 (evens) 2 50%
+200 2/1 3 33.3%
+300 3/1 4 25%
+400 4/1 5 20%
+500 5/1 6 16.7%
+600 6/1 7 14.3%
+700 7/1 8 12.5%
+800 8/1 9 11.1%
+900 9/1 10 10%
+1000 10/1 11 9.1%
+2000 20/1 21 4.8%
+5000 50/1 51 2%
+10000 100/1 101 1%
+100000 1000/1 1001 0.1%


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Joe is a writer from the UK who holds a Master's degree from Framingham State University in Massachusetts, USA. He specializes in sports gambling but also covers poker and casinos. He is a huge sports fan who enjoys all sports, from the NBA to darts and everything in between. He is also a die-hard Tottenham Hotspur supporter, although he's a savvy enough gambler not to bet on them.