Live Sports Betting Odds

The legalization of sports betting continues to spread across the United States. If it goes live in Massachusetts, new bettors will want to have a full understanding of the basics. Whether it’s the NFL, the NBA or MLB, there will be odds available on every major sport for just about anything you would like to bet on, from the point spread to prop bets.

Before you get into strategies and determine what type of sports bettor you will be, the first item every bettor needs to understand is how to read odds. In this guide, we will take you through the basics of deciphering what the odds mean, with examples you might see when perusing a sportsbook app. We will also look at standard bets like the moneyline, point spread and over/under, and we’ll provide some general sports betting tips.

Live Sportsbooks Odds in Massachusetts

When licensed online sportsbooks go live in Massachusetts, you’ll see the latest odds right off their odds boards right here.

How do betting odds work?

Sports betting lingo and numbers have become a big part of the sports media discussion in a short time. Some of the major networks now feature betting odds on the bottom scroll throughout their entire day of programming.

If you’ve seen these but still have questions, this page is here to help. It can look confusing at first, but as with just about anything, you will have a better idea as you get more familiar First, here are a few examples from some of the most popular sportsbooks in the United States.

The first is a screenshot from the Fanduel Sportsbook app showing the odds for an NBA game between the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls.

celtics odds

To bet, you would select the wager you want to place and decide how much money you’d like to risk. If your bet wins, Fanduel will pay you based on the odds. We’ll go through the three columns from left to right:

  • Point spread: The point spread is the first column. A positive top number indicates the underdog, and a corresponding negative number shows the favorite. In this example, the Celtics are favored by 7 points, and Chicago is a 7-point underdog. If you wanted to bet on the Bulls to cover the spread at +7, you would need them to either lose by 6 or fewer points or win the game outright. On the flip side, if you wanted to bet on the Celtics at -7, you would need them to win by eight or more points.
  • Moneyline: Here, you are simply betting on which team will win the game. However, you will make more money if you correctly bet on the underdog to pull off an upset than you would if you bet on the favorite to win the game. In this example, a winning ticket on the Bulls would result in a higher payout than a correctly predicted bet on the Celtics.
  • Point total: The final column is the point total, aka the over/under. For this bet, you don’t care which team will win the game or by how much. All that matters is how many total points the two teams combine to score. Fanduel has set the line at o/u 225 for this matchup, and bettors can wager on the actual total score being over or under that number.

As for the odds, we’ll show you what they mean and how to calculate them.

The point spread and point total are generally going to be around the same, roughly -110 on either side. With the spread in the above example, let’s say you wanted to bet on the Celtics odds at -110 odds as 7-point favorites. For example, then, if Boston beats the spread, a bet of $110 would win $100 in profit.

Moving on, then, if you took the Celtics at -290 on the moneyline, a $290 wager would return a $100 profit. The calculation changes, though, with positive odds. With Chicago at +235 odds, that means a correct $100 wager would result in a $235 profit.

Prop odds, futures odds, and alternate lines

While the point spread, over/under, and point total will dominate much of the sports betting discussion, there are other ways to wager on sports. Three we will look at here are prop bets, futures, and alternate lines.

With a prop bet, think of it as a game within the game or somewhat of a mix between sports betting and fantasy sports. An example of a prop bet would be a wager on how many passing yards Mac Jones will have in his next game. Oddsmakers will list a number, and bettors can wager whether Jones will go over or under that line.

A futures bet, meanwhile, lets you wager days, weeks, or even months in advance of the event on which you’re betting. An example of a futures bet would be who will win the Super Bowl next year, projected NBA win totals, or odds on the next Cy Young winner.

With alternate lines, bettors do not necessarily have to go with the numbers on the main page of a book’s betting board. If the Patriots are 2.5-point favorites with -110 odds, you could head into the game listing to find additional options. If you are extremely confident in New England, you could move the number to make the Patriots 3.5-point favorites. Your likelihood of a winning wager would decrease, but the potential payout would be higher.

What happens with a push?

Let’s say you wanted to wager on a game between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, and you’re taking the Celtics as five-point favorites. You know your wager will win if Boston wins by more than five points, but what happens if the Celtics win by exactly five points?

In our example, let’s say Boston wins by a score of 118-113. Your bet would be a push, and you would receive your money back as if the game never happened. Sportsbooks want to avoid this, which is why many spreads and totals will end in .5 to eliminate any chance of a push.

How do parlay odds work?

With a parlay, you will need multiple outcomes to come true in order for your bet to win. For example, let’s say you have five wagers grouped together in a parlay. If all five are correct, your bet wins. If you get even one wrong, however, the entire bet is a loss.

The high potential payouts can be attractive, but parlays are extremely difficult to win consistently, which is why sportsbooks keep offering them. Many have even expanded to take parlay bets on events from the same game.

Sportsbooks will share how much money someone won on a small bet through a parlay because they know the odds are heavily in their favor for such wagers. When bettors hear somebody risked just $20 to win a $5,000 profit, it makes them more apt to place a bet like that, which is exactly what the sportsbooks want.

What are good odds in betting?

A lot of the most successful sports bettors will stick to the betting options with just two outcomes to choose from, each with roughly a 50% chance of cashing. For example, picking which team will cover a point spread is generally a better wager than something like who will win the American League pennant in baseball. With more outcomes, there is likely to be a higher payout, but safer plays like the point spread and total are much more likely to be profitable in the long run.

How live sports betting odds work

Live betting can be a thrilling way to bet on sports. The top Massachusetts sportsbook apps allow bettors to pull out their phones and bet on a game as it is happening live.

Live betting features a ton of different betting options, including the main three of the point spread, point total and moneyline. Live betting odds and numbers will move and adjust rapidly to reflect what’s happening in the game, so you will need to be quick in getting your wagers in if you see some odds that you like.

Vegas odds vs. MA sportsbook odds

Until recently, Las Vegas — and more broadly the state of Nevada — was one of the only places to legally bet on sports in the United States. Oddsmakers from Vegas would put out the numbers, and bettors in the area could enter a physical sportsbook and place wagers.

Now, there is much more competition, and you can find legitimate and competitive odds in other states where sports betting is legal. Depending on betting action and line movement, the odds at online sportsbooks in your state may differ slightly one way or the other from the ones in Vegas, but one isn’t inherently better than the other.

Why and how do odds move?

Regardless of the sport, numbers and odds will adjust for a variety of reasons, including injury news, roster movement, weather forecasts, etc. One of the major reasons is the oddsmakers making adjustments to what bettors are doing. With something like the point spread, oddsmakers would like for there to be roughly 50% of the betting action on each side. If the opening odds come out and 80% of the money is going to one side, oddsmakers will likely adjust things to entice bettors to start placing money on the other side.

For a sport like football, odds may come out a week in advance and sometimes more, so there is plenty of time for movement leading up to kickoff. When you place your wager, your bet is locked in at those numbers no matter how much the line moves later. Experienced sports bettors may have a sense of where the line will move, so they might aim to get their bets in as early as possible if they see a number they like.

How to find the best sportsbook odds (line shopping)

Line shopping is how you get the best chance at winning a bet and receiving the highest possible payout. It helps to have accounts at multiple sportsbook apps.

As mentioned in the previous section, odds and numbers will move, and they are not always the same at the best NHL betting sites or best NFL betting sites, for example. They will likely be similar, but when there is a difference, you can take advantage of the best betting odds by making an odds comparison across multiple sites. For example, let’s say you wanted to bet on the New England Patriots in their upcoming matchup with the Buffalo Bills.

If DraftKings is offering the Patriots as three-point favorites and the FanDuel sportsbook app has them as 2.5-point favorites, you would want to place the wager at FanDuel because that 0.5 point has a ton of value. It does not seem like a major difference, but small edges can add up, in the long run, to give you the best chance at collecting a profit from sports betting.

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