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Plus & Minus Betting Explained 2024: What Does The + And – Mean In Sports Betting?

Publish Date:19/05/2023
Fact checked by: Heather Williams

A key part of your sports betting experience is understanding what the plus and minus in betting lines means. That way, you will know who the favorite and the underdog in any contest are, so you can make a more informed betting decision.

This, along with the rest of the odds format, might seem confusing at first. To make it easier, we have put together this guide to explain it all, so you know exactly what to expect when you place a wager.

In betting, what does plus & minus mean?

When you look at any odds in a sportsbook, whether it be a standard one or a VIP sports betting site, you will see that each selection will typically have a plus sign in front of the number in one column, and a minus sign in front of the other. This can be hard to get your head around at first, especially if you are seeing it for the first time.

On TV and in movies you may have seen or heard odds given as maybe 2/1 or 20/1, and you might have been expecting to see the same when you arrived at an online sportsbook. Those are called fractional odds and are used along with decimal odds in other countries around the world. Here in the US, we use American Odds, which involves betting with plus/minus odds, so you need to know how they work.

Reading betting lines 

So, to fully answer the question of what does the plus and minus mean in betting, you need to look at each one individually, starting with the minus symbol. The minus symbol indicates the favorite in any contest and indicates how much money you would have to wager to win $100. That is there for illustrative purposes only, and you don’t have to bet in multiples of $100. You can bet any amount and the sportsbook will work out any potential winnings proportionally.

This is best illustrated using a couple of examples from one of the best betting sites. If you saw odds of -160, this would typically mean the selection was the favorite in the event, and you would have to wager $160 to win $100, $80 to win $50, or $320 to win $200. Alternatively, if you saw odds of -400, you would know that the selection would be a very strong favorite and that you would have to wager $400 to win $100, $200 to win $50, and so on.

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So, what does plus mean in betting?

Now that you have seen how to spot the favorite in plus-minus betting, you will probably have guessed that the plus symbol means that the other participant is the underdog. Here the odds work slightly differently, and the number next to the plus sign indicates the amount of money you would win if you wagered $100. Again, this is for illustration only and it is worked out proportionately.

In this case, odds of +160 mean a $100 wager would win you $160, a $50 bet would win you $80, and $200 would win you $320. If they were a massive underdog, and the odds were +400, $100 would win you $400, and a successful $50 wager would get you $200

Minus symbols in spread betting

Of course, there are situations where you don’t see both the plus and minus in betting lines, and both participants have a minus sign in front of them. This happens most often when looking at the odds for the spread, where the sportsbook has applied a handicap to one of the teams and adjusted the odds accordingly. In situations like this, both teams might be at odds of around -110, meaning that you would need to wager $110 to win $100 should the team cover the spread.

Conclusion - learning about the plus and minus in betting helps you understand the odds

Plus minus odds can look confusing the first time you see them, but after reading this guide you should know exactly what you are looking at. You can now place wagers fully aware of your risk and return, and make better decisions when it comes to placing bets in various markets at your preferred sportsbook.

In addition to this, elsewhere on the site you’ll also find the best betting guides for a number of sportsbook betting techniques, as well as some of the more advanced topics as well. You will also find plenty of material for casino players as well, to give you a more rounded knowledge base.

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Plus minus betting FAQ

💡In betting what does + mean?

Seeing odds at a sportsbook for the first time might come as a shock, but they are quite simple once you understand them. Our short guide explains the plus and minus in betting so you know exactly what you are looking at. 

💭Are plus/minus odds used everywhere in the US?

Odds using the plus and minus symbols are not the only formats available. Our short guide not only answers the question of what the plus and minus means in betting but also tells you where those types of odds are used. 

🤔How can you spot the favorite at US sportsbooks?

Knowing which team is most likely to win at a sporting event is an important part of the betting experience. Our latest guide not only answers the question of what does the plus and minus mean in betting but how you can use them to spot the favorite.

💸How much would I win from a bet at odds of +400?

Working out your potential winnings is an essential part of being a bettor, but that can be hard if you are not sure what the odds mean. Our new guide explains the plus minus betting odds used by sportsbooks, so you can work out your possible returns for this and any other wager. 

💰What do plus minus betting odds mean in spread betting?

Spread bets are very popular, so knowing how they work is important. By checking out our latest guide, you will see how plus minus odds work, and how they are used in spread betting. 

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