What Does the + and – Mean in Sports Betting?


During sports betting, you usually encounter number that have a negative (-) or positive (+) sign in front of them. Just like in mathematics, this is confusing for a first time. However, they have a clear purpose and they indicate the meaning of the odds, and how they are classified. For a better understanding, of how to read the – and + signs, we take a look into the different types of odds.

Types of Odds

 Just like in everything else, sports betting odds simply tell you the likelihood of something happening.

 First of all, we have to know the different types of odds and how they appear.

  1. Fractional – These odds are expressed in the form of a fraction. Examples of these could include 12/15, 5/6,12/19 and so on.
  2. Decimal – These type of odds are expressed with decimal points, for probabilities. Examples of odds written in this for are 1.88, -2.67, 3.03 and so on.
  3. American- These odds are expressed in whole, non-decimal numbers. Odds written in this form are also referred to as moneyline odds. (E.g. -2300, +450, -900, +3600)

 Basically, these odds are just different ways of presenting the same thing. There will be no difference in the payout if you win using those odds.

 Meaning of Numbers

A negative sign (-) before a team on the odds would simply mean that the team is favoured to win. On the other hand, the positive (+) sign means that the team described are an underdog.  Whenever you win, the amount you wagered is multiplied by the odds to find out how much you’ve won.

The sportsbook presentation of moneyline odds usually has the – or + sign directly in front of it. However, for the Asian handicap, the – and + signs are not displayed; the handicap is placed in the table on the odds of the favoured team. When you click on the odds, a window will pop up before you wager, showing that you are betting on the team with either a – or + handicap.

Lower odds will return a higher profit. If you bet on an underdog, you would be encountering a risk higher than on a favourite, but that would mean you could get a higher reward.

How Payouts are Calculated Using Odds

 The application of the – and + signs depends on what odds you choose to bet on.

 In the Asian handicap, regardless of whether odds have the negative or positive sign before it, you will be calculating the odds to come up with a complete number.  For example, you bet on a Asian handicap of +1 with an odds of 1.89: if you bet 100, you will get a total payout of 1.89 x 100 = $189.00. The same goes for a handicap of -0.75 with odds of 1.78; you will get 1.78 x 100 = $100.00 when you win.

Meanwhile, on American or moneyline bets, the – or + signs will indicate how much you will be paying to win a certain amount. In this case, you risk a larger amount for the negative odds. Let’s say a game between Manchester City and Chelsea has the following odds:

Manchester City: -780

Chelsea: +560

Clearly, Manchester City is the favoured team, and Chelsea is the underdog. Because of the + sign, this means that you need to wager $100 on Chelsea to win $560. If Chelsea upset City, you win back your $100, plus your profit of $560 for a total payout of $660.

But say you bet on City. According to the – sign, you have to bet $780 to win $100 if City is successful. If City wins as predicted, you get back your $780, plus $100 more, for a total payout of $880.

Know Your Negatives from Your Positives!

Now that you understand what the – and + signs mean, you can now apply these when you go play again on your favourite online sportsbook. Be sure to check the odds before wagering (you can click on them to get a preview) to ensure that you get the outcome you want when you win!