Sports Betting Odds: How They Work

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Sports betting odds can change from one minute to the next at the top online sportsbooks and best sports betting apps.

Odds represent the likelihood of an outcome for multiple sides of a competition. Betting on the favorite will usually result in a lower payout than you would receive with the high-risk, high-reward underdog.

Sportsbooks release betting odds for long-term markets (futures), pregame markets (spread, moneyline, total, etc.), game props, player props, live in-game betting options, and much more.

Use this guide to gain a better understanding of how sports betting odds work for your favorite sports.

Let’s start with today’s sports betting odds for upcoming games. Use the dropdown menu to select:

  • The sport (MLB, NFL, college football, etc.)
  • Preferred odds (spread, moneyline, or Over/Under)
  • Your betting location (in states with legal sports betting)

Sports Betting Odds Today

How Do Sports Betting Odds Work?

Sports betting lines are set by each sportsbook using professional bookmakers who use technology to calculate the most likely outcomes. They determine the odds in sports betting for every event, including how the in-game sports betting lines move on a second-by-second basis.

Because each site and app offers different sports and odds, access to legal online sports betting is highly valuable. The odds board above can help you check each of the sports betting lines without so much as creating an account. You can also click on any event and type in a bet to see what you stand to win (again, even before signing up).

All sportsbooks carry the majority of professional sports, while many also carry international leagues and events, including Olympic odds. With some sportsbooks, you can also wager on non-sporting events such as who is favored to be next US president?

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NFL Sportsbook Odds

American football is the most popular sport for U.S. bettors and NFL odds are often the most diverse and competitive options at online sportsbooks. And of course, the best sportsbooks will offer a large selection of football betting promotions, particularly parlay offers.

In all states with legal online sports betting, you can find Super Bowl odds in the futures section of sportsbooks a full year in advance. You can also bet on the NFL Draft, although not all online sportsbooks offer the option. But apps like FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetRivers will always list draft props and betting options within their football odds.

The most popular forms of football betting include:

  • Point spreads
  • Totals
  • Player props
  • Playoff parlays
  • Super Bowl odds
  • Futures listed during the preseason (win totals, award odds, etc.)

Online sportsbooks have also started offering multi-sport parlays, and football odds are a popular addition alongside basketball and soccer bets.

MLB Sportsbook Odds

The most popular MLB betting lines are the moneyline and run lines (run line is the same as betting the points spread). The sportsbooks will also offer awesome action on World Series odds, which is a great time of year for baseball betting promotions.

For World Series odds specifically, you can wager on the exact order of the wins and losses leading to the four-game victory. MLB postseason parlays are also incredibly popular.

Baseball is a sport focused on stats, so you can always find a lot of MLB player prop bets, including the total number of strikeouts, hits, and home runs for your favorite players. You can also pit players head to head, such as which pitcher will strike out the most batters.

For massive payout potential, you can select MLB betting lines on long-shot events like someone pitching a no-hitter. However, you may need to reach out to the sportsbook and ask them to create the line for you.

College Football Sportsbook Odds

In states with legal sports betting, you can find plenty of NCAAF odds. Most of the college football lines are just like NFL lines, and the bowl game odds offer some of the best action of the year.

However, states like Illinois, New Jersey and Virginia restrict betting on in-state college schools entirely. That also usually means that you can’t bet on any college sport played inside the state, even if an in-state school isn’t participating.

Other states restrict offering college football lines on player props. Some restrict live betting on NCAAF odds. Michigan and Iowa restrict both, which includes bowl game odds based on player stats.

More Sports Betting Odds

The fun doesn’t end with football and baseball. Some sportsbooks offer odds on hundreds of leagues.

Here, we break down betting odds for some of the other most popular sports for U.S. bettors.

NBA

The most popular picks around NBA odds surround the NBA Finals when the players try their hardest — and sports bettors enjoy major underdog upsets and lucrative prop payouts.

But the NBA betting picks during the regular season are numerous as well. You can bet on a player hitting a double-double. You can parlay multiple games. And you can bet the totals on the highest-scoring sport of the major leagues, which is fun whether it’s the NBA preseason or the NBA finals.

NBA futures have a reputation for swinging more wildly than in any other sport. With plenty of games on the schedule, so much potential for injuries and trades, and the chance for a college recruit to take a team to the next level, the odds for NBA futures seem to change on an hourly basis.

Unfortunately, the draft isn’t the most exciting of the NBA betting markets, but it can still pay out if the unexpected happens. Remember 2003? LeBron was the expected No. 1 pick, but Darko Miličić got drafted over Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade to become one of the biggest draft busts of all time.

NHL

Despite hockey not being as popular as football, baseball, and basketball, you can find a huge number of NHL betting odds at online sportsbooks. This includes a range of player props, such as 1+ goal, 2+ goal, hat trick, number of shots, first goal, last goal, and more. And those NHL betting lines are listed for every NHL game, not just the postseason.

However, the Stanley Cup odds always attract the most hockey bettors, particularly in cities with historically successful teams like Chicago, New York, and Boston. Stanley Cup odds also offer one of the few times you’re betting on several Canadian teams, with the playoffs being one of the most lucrative times for NHL betting lines.

Like the Super Bowl, you can bet on the winner of the Stanley Cup months in advance, and the futures on Stanley Cup odds are constantly changing based on trades, injuries, team form, and more.

College Basketball

While the Super Bowl is the most popular single-game event for sports betting, the NCAA March Madness tournament odds bring in three times more bets overall. From (technically illegal) office pools to countless NCAA basketball lines across all sportsbooks, there’s no shortage of opportunities to win money.

Unfortunately, the same restrictions on college football betting apply to NCAAB lines. States like Pennsylvania allow bets on Pitt, Temple, Villanova, and Penn State. Meanwhile, Virginia, Illinois, and New Jersey restrict betting on in-state schools. This can eliminate access to betting on March Madness NCAAB lines altogether.

Thankfully, online sportsbooks invite members to fill out brackets for free for a chance to win money. Because it’s a free option, it doesn’t fall under states’ restrictions on NCAA basketball lines.

PGA Tour

Unlike with team sports, almost all PGA odds are arguably prop bets, where you’re betting on an individual’s performance.

You can bet on who will win the Tour, which would be one person. But, similar to horse racing, golf betting can also bet the Top 5/10/20, which means you can win if your player does well but doesn’t win outright.

Another popular form of golf betting is 3-ball and 2-ball, where you bet based on the performance within a three- or two-person grouping.

Interestingly, you can still receive a payout if your golfer ties within their group, which is known as the “dead heat rule.” Basically, the more players who tie for the lowest score, the lower the dead heat payout.

NASCAR

For fans of NASCAR betting odds, nothing beats the action surrounding the Daytona 500 in Florida, which is the Kentucky Derby of car racing. On top of the wide range of Daytona lines, NASCAR betting sites and apps always offer exciting promotions.

In fact, you can check the NASCAR betting odds any time of the year to wager on the future winner of the Daytona 500, and a few other major races also offer futures lines.

Like with PGA odds, a popular line within NASCAR betting odds is to bet who will “place” rather than win. For example, you can bet that a driver will place in the top three or top five to increase your chances of winning.

Soccer

World Cup odds are highly popular in the US, and alongside the Super Bowl, March Madness, and the Kentucky Derby, it brings in more betting revenue than any other sport.

You can find World Cup odds at all sportsbooks; however, some may restrict betting if there’s a player under 18 on the team. We’ll have to wait and see how the World Cup odds take shape in 2026. The US, Canada, and Mexico are sharing hosting duties. Hosts are automatically entered in the World Cup, so we’ll see plenty of bets on the North American teams.

MLS betting is growing in popularity, as is the league as a whole. All sportsbooks will offer plenty of MLS odds as well despite it not being as popular as its major league counterparts in the US.

But even when it’s not a World Cup year, international competitions inspire the most famous soccer betting odds in the US. English Premier League odds are extremely competitive across sportsbooks, and platforms like Caesars Sportsbook, which specialize in European soccer, offer a long list of lines, including team and player props.

Those still wanting to enjoy a tournament-style event can follow the UEFA Champions League. This takes place during the European seasons, typically on weekday nights, until the championship game in late May or early June. You can check Champions League odds to bet on a future winner or individual match odds.

Soccer betting odds for moneyline and goal lines are unique in that the game can end in a tie. That means, on top of betting on the favorite or underdog, you can also find soccer betting odds on a draw, which can pay out more than betting on the winner.

Boxing

Boxing betting is as old as the sport itself. And while it’s lost some avid bettors to MMA, its biggest competitor, boxing betting is still highly popular.

Usually, the most action at the sportsbook occurs when there’s a major bout. When Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao went head-to-head in 2015, Las Vegas sportsbooks took millions in wagers. And a single bettor put a million dollars on Mayweather beating Conor McGregor in 2017.

Since 2018, states other than Nevada have legalized sports betting, so it’s more accessible than ever. With major bouts happening every year, boxing betting could find a new heyday.

MMA

While betting on boxing is historically popular, MMA odds have become the new go-to wager on fighting sports. Every online and retail sportsbook offers UFC betting odds, and aside from the bouts that get tons of coverage, it’s more popular than boxing bets.

Why does it matter which sport is more popular? Because the more people who place bets on the MMA odds, the better the potential payouts, the more competitive the UFC betting odds across the sportsbooks, and the more prop bets you can find. It also makes the sportsbook more apt to offer great promotions.

WNBA

WNBA odds are becoming increasingly popular at the sportsbooks since legal sports betting expanded beyond Nevada.

Still, the WNBA is often overlooked despite having 12 competitive teams and lucrative bets during the playoffs. And that means the sportsbooks (and the media as a whole) can undervalue the players, giving you a lot of opportunities to spot quality prop bets.

All major sportsbooks offer WNBA odds. But FanDuel Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) is the exclusive DFS platform for the league.

Tennis

US Open tennis odds are comparable to PGA odds in international popularity. Like with golf, tennis bets usually surround either the outright winner or the winner of individual matches (groupings in golf).

You can find US Open tennis odds in the futures section of most online sportsbooks. PointsBet, which specializes in unique totals payouts as well as parlays, has some particularly interesting tennis bets.

The tennis bets that bring in the most wagering include:

  • US Open
  • Wimbledon
  • Australian Open
  • French Open (Roland Garros)

Basically, any major tournament will attract tennis bets. But some sports betting apps offer lines beyond US Open tennis odds and comparable tournaments, including qualifiers. Just keep the time zone differences in mind for Grand Slam matches outside of the US.

Common Types of Odds

To newcomers, the variety of betting options can be a bit overwhelming.

You can bet on straight bets like the moneyline, points spread, and totals, which apply to upcoming games. You can also make betting predictions far in advance by betting on “futures,” which is guessing who will win a major title down the line. And if you want to maximize your win potential, you can make multiple betting picks and combine them into a parlay.

But gambling odds simply represent likelihood. They’re betting predictions determined by bookmakers. And like all gambling odds, the lower your chances of winning, the bigger the win potential.

1

Moneyline Odds

The moneyline bet is the simplest form of sports betting odds. Bettors choose which team they think will win the game. If they’re right, they win the bet. If their pick loses the game, the bet is lost.

Usually, betting the favorite (the team the bookmaker expects to win) won’t provide a large payout. But betting on the underdog could have significant win potential. And if it’s a close matchup, the moneyline can be among the most popular odds in sports betting.

US sportsbook customers will usually find odds listed as a number with either a (+) or (-) in front signifying whether the team is the underdog (+) or the favorite (-). The number also indicates how much money you’ll win with a correct bet on that team.

For favorites, the number is how much you will need to bet in order to win $100. Let’s say Ohio State is a favorite over Rutgers. The moneyline might look like -175 for the Buckeyes. That means you’ll have to risk $175 on Ohio State to win $100 from the sportsbook. A Rutgers bet might look like +280. That means you would win $280 on your $100 bet.

Use Gaming Today’s Moneyline Calculator to learn how much any moneyline bet will pay out.

2

Point Spreads

Point spread betting is similar to the moneyline, except the favorite team has to win by a minimum number of points to “beat the spread.” For the underdog to beat the spread, they can either lose within the betting spread or win the game by any amount.

Let’s use an NFL game between the LA Chargers and the Denver Broncos as an example:

Before kickoff, you see the Chargers betting spread set at -3.5 points. That means they are the favorite in the game and they’ll need to win by 4 points or more for the bet to pay off. A bet on Denver means you win if the Broncos win outright or if they lose by 3 points or less.

Essentially you’re asking yourself: “The Chargers are better, but are they more than a field goal better than the Broncos?” If the answer is yes, take the Chargers. If the answer is no, take the Broncos with +3.5 points added in.

The gaps can be far more extreme in college football.

Alabama hosts Chattanooga in 2023. Barring some cataclysmic shifts in the college football landscape, the Tide will be huge favorites — let’s put them at -36.5 for discussion purposes here. A bet on Chattanooga basically spots the underdog Mocs a hypothetical 36-point lead at the start of the game in this betting example.

That game might normally be an unwatchable blowout — but it’s far more interesting now because of the bet you made on the game.

3

Totals (Over/Under) Odds

If you see “O/U” or the term “total” at a sportsbook, they are talking about Over/Under betting odds. This is an easy bet to understand, too. It simply means the sportsbook is taking bets on how many points will be scored in a game. The most common total odds bet asks you to bet on the combined number of points scored by both teams (the total score). Bettors can then bet the Over or the Under based on that score.

For example, the Over/Under at BetMGM Super Bowl LVII in 2023 was 50.5 points. If you had bet the Over, you would have won, as the game ended 38 to 35 for a total score of 73 points.

4

Parlay Odds

A parlay is a combination of bets (known as “legs”) that all need to win for the overall parlay bet to win.

That means parlay odds are affected by two factors: the number of legs you add to your parlay bet, and the odds on each individual leg. Parlays are a high-risk, high-reward type of bet that offer the largest payouts available to bettors today.

Just remember: It only takes one wrong game outcome for the sportsbook to win your parlay bet. You win a higher amount if all the legs go your way though.

An online parlay calculator is a great tool to determine the overall win potential. Most sportsbooks also let you build a parlay bet and see the parlay odds before you have to lock in the wager.

Some sportsbook apps also have early cash-out options for bettors who want to “quit while they’re ahead” on a parlay.

5

Prop Bet Odds

Of all the bets available across the sports and the odds, prop bets offer the biggest variety. Prop bets are specialty sports betting lines based on player or team performance. They usually don’t have to do with who wins the game in the end.

For example, Super Bowl MVP is always one of the most popular prop bets, and Patrick Mahomes won the honor at the 2023 Super Bowl. But there were many prop bets on both team’s quarterbacks, lots of which paid out handsomely.

Another good example is NBA prop betting, ideal for a sport that takes pride in double- and triple-doubles. Typically, NBA prop bets involve guessing the combined number of points, rebounds and assists.

Some states have prop bet limits, however.

6

Live or In-Game Betting

Live in-game betting takes place after the game begins and anytime leading up to the final whistle. Usually, the sports odds you’ll find before the game will change dramatically as the game progresses. Most sports betting apps have a section specifically for live odds.

For example, the favorite at the start of the game could become the distant underdog by halftime.

Interestingly, you can find many of the same bets for live in-game betting that you would find before the game starts, just with different odds. However, some in-game bets are exclusive to live betting, such as, “Will someone score within the next five game minutes?”

Sports Betting Odds Calculators

We offer a wide range of betting tools at Gaming Today. These sports betting calculators give you instant insights into wagers before you place them. Some of the most utilized include:

  • NFL Spread Calculator: A calculator that makes it easy to compare the different odds offered by multiple sportsbooks.
  • Implied Probability Calculator: A calculator where you type in American odds and see the probability of winning the bet in percentage form.
  • Fair Odds Calculator: A calculator, which identifies the odds of winning without the vig (the integrated fee included in all sportsbook bets).
  • Odds Calculator: Allows you to quickly switch from American odds to decimal or fractional odds. Some sportsbook apps and sites also let you switch to your odds preference in their settings.
  • Bet Tracking: The practice of tabulating your betting history. Advanced bet Tracking for sports betting is essential because numbers are king. Properly Monitoring and tracking your bets makes you gambling royalty. Sports gamblers, novices, and veterans alike are guaranteed to improve their game with this simple hack.

Sports Betting Odds FAQ

What are betting lines?

Betting lines are the available bets offered by a sportsbook, represented by odds that determine the win potential. In the US, betting lines are usually presented as + or – numbers that start at 100. You can use a betting calculator at Gaming Today to determine how much you stand to win based on any betting line.

Where can I find sports scores and odds on a mobile device?

Online sports betting apps offer a wide variety of odds for every sport. You can find sports scores and odds at online sportsbook apps and websites. You can also legally place real-money bets on these platforms if you’re in a state with legal online sports betting. High-quality options available in most states with online sportsbooks include DraftKings, BetMGM, and Caesars Sportsbook.

Where can I find the best odds online?

You can find the best odds online by comparing the betting lines at different sportsbooks. These platforms compete against each other to appeal to betters, so you can often find better odds at one sportsbook over another. The best odds are those that pay out the most; for example, -110 doesn’t pay out as high as -105.

Where can I find free betting picks?

Gaming Today offers free betting picks on a variety of upcoming sporting events. There is no subscription required or article limit. Some online sportsbooks, such as FOX Bet and Barstool Sportsbook, will employ sports personalities to make picks that bettors can follow as well, and those usually come with boosted odds, insurance, or some other special offer.

What are live betting odds?

Live betting odds are lines available to sports bettors on a game that’s already begun. Once the first whistle is blown, bettors can select the live betting odds based on how the game is progressing and how they think it will progress. Live betting on professional sports is available at most legal online sportsbooks.

Where is the best place to find Las Vegas sports odds?

The best place to find Vegas odds online is at DraftKings Sportsbook, Caesars, FanDuel or BetMGM, which offer highly competitive sports betting odds, the same or better than what you’d find at a retail Vegas sportsbook. Vegas odds used to apply online to Nevada, but several US states have legalized online sports betting since 2018, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Colorado, and more.

Can I bet on events happening off the field?

Yes in some cases, no in others. It depends on the state where the bet is being placed.

Some states will allow NFL draft bets, for example. Others won’t. The college football Heisman Trophy award is an option in some places but prohibited in others.

Don’t worry. Sportsbooks customize their betting menu state-by-state based on what is allowed. If you’re in the right jurisdiction, legal online sportsbooks might take bets on off-field events and occurrences.

This is especially popular during the Super Bowl when the sports betting odds can include the length of the national anthem or the coin flip. But you can also bet on esports in New Jersey, Nevada, Colorado, and West Virginia. You’ll even find Oscars bets in Indiana.

About the Author
Carson Mundy

Carson Mundy

Brand Content Manager
Carson Mundy is the brand content manager of Gaming Today. He enjoys handicapping the NFL, NHL, and PGA Tour with a focus on the analytical side of betting. From a sports journalism background, Mundy has been published by TSN, Sportsnet, The Canadian Press, and Microsoft News. He lives in Toronto and cheers for the Maple Leafs, Blue Jays, and Raptors.

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