Understanding + and – in Sports Betting Spread: What Plus and Minus Signs Mean

Confused by the plus (+) and minus (-) signs next to numbers in sports betting? What Plus and Minus Signs Mean?

This article dives deep into the meaning of + and – in the context of betting spreads, breaking down what these symbols represent, the significance of common spread values, and how they influence betting strategies.

By comprehending Plus and Minus Signs, you will better understand betting lines and enhance your betting decisions. Let’s embark on a journey to decode the language of sports betting spreads, turning negative odds to positive ones!

Key Takeaways

  • You’ll be able to determine an effective betting strategy
  • Learn how to perfectly balance the risk and potential payout of your bets.

Decoding the Spread Symbols + and – For a Sports Bet

In sports betting, the plus (+) and minus (-) symbols are the foundation of betting spreads. These signs are not just mere mathematical symbols; they correspond to the underdog and the favorite in a matchup, respectively.

Here’s a closer look at what plus and minus mean in betting spreads:

  • Plus (+) Symbol: This symbol is attached to the betting odds of the underdog, indicating the amount a bettor would win from a $100 bet.
    For instance, a +150 means that if you bet $100 on the underdog, and they win, you receive $150 in winnings, plus your original $100 bet back.
  • Minus (-) Symbol: Conversely, the minus symbol denotes the favorite in the contest. It shows how much you need to bet to win $100.
    If the favorite has odds of -150, you would need to bet $150 to win $100 (plus the return of your $150 stake).

The spread itself is designed to level the playing field between two unevenly matched teams, by applying a handicap to the favorite. This handicap is the “point spread” and directly relates to the plus and minus signs.

+Underdog; amount won on a $100 bet+150Bet $100 on the underdog to win $150 (plus your $100 back).
Favorite; amount to bet to win $100-150Bet $150 on the favorite to win $100 (plus your $150 back).

Understanding these signs meaning for a sporting event betting is crucial, as they dictate:

  • The bet’s dynamics,
  • The potential payout,
  • The perceived strength of each team according to the oddsmakers.

The point spread, represented by these plus and minus symbols, balances the betting field, making every game a closer contest according to bettors.

To sum up, plus and minus signs play a key role in betting odds. Deeply getting their meanings and impacts will determine your betting strategy; whether you’re backing the underdog for a bigger win with the plus symbol or supporting the favorite with the minus sign, aiming for a safer, albeit potentially less lucrative, payout.

Interpreting Common Spread Values: What They Mean For Betting Odds

In sports betting, understanding the spread values represented by plus and minus signs is crucial for making informed wagers.

Let’s delve into common spread values like -7 and -1.5, and uncover what these figures mean for bettors, using concrete examples from NFL and basketball events to illustrate.

What Does -7 Mean in Point Spread?

A -7 spread value is commonly seen in NFL games, indicating that the favorite (denoted by the minus sign) must win by more than 7 points for a bet on them to pay out.

For example: If the New England Patriots are listed as -7 against the Miami Dolphins, betting on the Patriots means you believe they will win by more than 7 points.

If they win by exactly 7, the bet is a push, and you get your wager back. This spread aims to equalize the betting field, offering a more attractive payout for betting odds on both sides of the match.

What Does Minus 1.5 Mean in Betting?

In basketball, a -1.5 spread is common and suggests a closely matched game. The minus sign again indicates the favorite, requiring them to win by more than 1.5 points for a wager on them to win.

This narrow spread is often seen in sportsbooks when two evenly matched teams compete, making the underdog bet more tempting for those looking for value.

Example of how to read plus minus odds:

-7The favorite team must win by more than 7 points for a bet on them to win.
+7The underdog team must lose by less than 7 points, or win outright, for a bet on them to win.
-1.5The favorite team must win by more than 1.5 points for a bet on them to win.
+1.5The underdog must lose by less than 1.5 points, or win outright, for a bet on them to win.

Comprehending these values is essential for any bettor looking to navigate the sportsbook landscape effectively. By grasping what figures like -7 and -1.5 are, bettors can make more strategic decisions, balancing the risk and potential payout of their 100 bet with greater confidence.

Favorites are Always (-): How To Read Betting Odds for Good Teams

Favorites are consistently marked with a minus (-) sign, a fundamental concept new to sports betting should grasp. This notation is a quick identifier for sports bettors to determine which team or player the sportsbooks deem more likely to win. The minus sign directly correlates to the amount you’d need to bet to win $100, emphasizing the expected win probability.

Let’s look at the NBA, where powerhouse teams like the Los Angeles Lakers or the Milwaukee Bucks often enter games as favorites.

For example: If the Lakers are playing a weaker opponent, you’ll also see their odds listed as -200, indicating they’re favored to win, and you would need to bet $200 to win $100.

→ The minus sign signals the favorite and reflects the added risk involved in betting on a team expected to win.

Underdogs Get the (+) And A Potentially Big Payout

Underdogs are always denoted with a plus (+) sign, symbolizing their chance of winning is perceived to be less compared to their opponents. This sign is crucial for those looking at the odds, as it indicates how much money you stand to win your bet of $100.

Taking American odds into account, underdogs present an interesting case. Unlike negative odds associated with favorites, the plus sign offers insight into the potential payout for betting on these teams.

For example: If an underdog’s odds are listed at +300, a successful $100 bet to win would yield $300 in profits.

Teams often find themselves in the underdog role due to various factors like:

  • Player injuries
  • Home versus away game performance
  • Weather conditions on match day
  • Being outmatched on paper

When spreads and totals are considered, the spread number can significantly influence the betting landscape, providing a clearer picture of what those numbers mean.

→ Depending on whether you’re wagering on straight outcomes or spreads and totals, underdogs can offer valuable opportunities. The key for bettors is really knowing the potential high reward attached to the risk of betting on teams with a lower chance of winning.

Look For Value in Underdogs: How Plus and Minus Signs Can Be Used To Increase Profit

Underdog Betting Strategy for Higher Returns: Betting on underdogs is a favored strategy among experienced bettors, known for offering higher potential returns. This method is particularly effective in unpredictable sports like baseball, where outcomes can change quickly.

  • Underdogs are less likely to win but offer higher payouts due to the increased risk.
  • Favorites often have negative odds, requiring more money for a specific return, while underdogs have positive odds, indicating a higher return on a smaller investment.

Example with Kansas City Chiefs’ victory in 2024 Super Bowl, were underdogs but won, rewarding bettors with significant payouts.

Strategic Considerations: Not all underdog bets are advisable, but they often present undervalued opportunities that can lead to substantial rewards.

→ Remember, understanding the signs (+/-) next to odds is crucial in assessing both the likelihood of winning and the betting value. While not every underdog is worth a bet, in many cases, they offer lucrative opportunities for astute bettors.

Calculating the Impact of Spread on Bets

When looking at odds and the spread in sports betting, you must comprehend the impact on potential winnings and betting strategies. To do so, visit our betting 101 section.

The spread is a number next to the teams that levels the playing field, indicating the margin of victory needed for a bet to pay out.

For example: In an NFL game, if Team A’s spread is -7, they must win by over 7 points for a bet on them to pay off. Betting $100 on Team A with a standard -110 odds means risking $110 to win $100, combining your stake and profit if you win.


  • Bet on Team A with a -7 spread.
  • Wager $110 to potentially win $100 (plus your $110 money back).
  • Team A needs to win by more than 7 points.

Potential Profit Calculation:

  • If Team A wins by more than 7 points = your total return is $210 (your initial $110 wager plus $100 profit).
  • If Team A wins by exactly 7 points, it’s a push, and you get your wager back.
  • If Team A wins by less than 7 points or loses, you lose your $110 wager.

This calculation gives bettors an overview of what they may see in terms of returns and highlights the importance of the spread in determining would win scenarios and potential profit. 

Plus and Minus Signs Meaning

Really knowing the significance of + and – symbols in sports betting spread is essential, having direct impacts on your strategies and potential payouts.

Armed with this knowledge, you can now more accurately interpret spread values, enabling more informed decisions whether backing favorites or identifying value in underdog bets across various sports.

Curious about how different sports use spreads in unique ways, such as the run line in MLB or the puck line in NHL betting? Explore our guides to become a better sports bettor!