What Does Plus And Minus Mean in Betting? – Plus Minus Odds Explained

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Written by Dan Fitch

Updated: 08:23 am EST, 04/07/2024

A plus or minus symbol before a figure in betting odds, indicates whether a selection is favored to win, or not. Minus symbolizes a heavy favorite and plus the underdog. We’re going to fully explore the topic of what does plus and minus mean in betting at online sportsbooks, so that you totally understand how it works.

How Does Plus Minus Work in Betting?

American odds on top offshore sportsbooks work very differently to formats preferred in other parts of the world.

You’ll notice that US odds show either a plus sign or a minus sign, before a figure. The plus and minus signs indicate different things, which are crucial to understanding how these type of odds work.

A plus sign indicates an underdog. The figure that follows the plus sign represents the amount of money you would win if you bet $100.

So if you saw odds of +150 for example, it means that a bet of $100 would win you $150.

A minus sign represents an American sports betting favorite in there. The figure shown indicates how much that you would need to bet to win $100.

So if you saw betting odds of -120, it would mean that you would need to wager $120 in order to win $100.

Plus minus betting can sometimes seem a little complicated for beginner bettors, or if you’re used to working with odds formats from other parts of the world.

Either way, we think that you’ll soon get the hang of them. Once you’re used to what the plus and minus signs mean, American odds are pretty easy to comprehend and convert to other odds formats, if that’s required.

How to Read Plus Minus Odds

Let’s take you through a couple of examples that will illustrate what does plus and minus mean in betting and how they relate to alternative odds formats.

For our underdog bet, we’ll use the moneyline odds that we presented as an examples in the last section, which was +150.

As we said earlier, +150 means that you could win $150 if you bet $100. So how does that translate to other odds formats?

The equivalent fractional price to +150 is 6/4. With fractional odds, the second number represents your stake and the first number shows how much you could win, based on that stake.

You can work out a fractional bet by dividing your stake by the second number and multiplying it by the first. The formula below demonstrates this, based on our $100 bet:

  • Stake ($100) / 4 = $25 x 6 = $150

The equivalent decimal odds to +150 is 2.50. With decimal odds it shows a figure that gives you the total return based on a $1 bet. So with a $1 bet at 2.50, you would get a total return of $2.50, which is comprised of $1.50 in winnings, plus your returned $1 stake. The formula below demonstrates how this translates to a $100 bet:

  • Stake ($100) x Odds (2.50) = Returns ($250 = $150 Winnings + $100 Stake)

So when you see American odds of +150, they are exactly the same as fractional odds of 6/4, or decimal odds of 2.50.

Minus Means Favorite

Now let’s look at a favorite with a -200 price. With those money line odds of -200, it shows that you need to bet $200 in order to win $100.

Let’s see how that price translates to other odds formats. The equivalent fractional odds to -200 are 1/2.  Remember, the second number in fractional odds – which is in this case a two – refers to the stake.

The first number – in this case a one – refers to the winnings from that stake. The formula below, shows how this translates to win $100:

  • Stake ($200) / 2 = $100 x 1 = $100

The equivalent decimal odds to -200 are 1.5. As we explained earlier, decimal odds show you how much your total return would be from a $1 bet, which in this case is $1.50 ($1 returned stake plus $0.50 winnings). Here’s how a bet of $200 at 1.5 would be settled:

  • Stake ($200) x Odds (1.5) = Returns ($150 = $50 Winnings + $100 Stake)

So when you see American odds of -150, they are exactly the same as fractional odds of 1/2, or decimal odds of 1.50.

We’ve purposely chosen examples which are pretty easy to calculate in your head, to ensure that you understand the principles of how American odds work.

We’ll admit that there are certain odds where it gets a lot trickier, if trying to compare to other formats. In such circumstances, we’d recommend using a bet calculator or odds conversion table to work things out.

Popular Sports for Plus Minus Betting

Now it’s time to take a closer look at plus minus sports betting. As this is an American odds format, here are the competitions that are most popular in the US, where you will see plus and minus odds.


The NFL is a competition where teams can win by relatively large margins. In such circumstances, if the moneyline is priced correctly, there will be a strong favorite and an underdog available at big odds. This is something crucial to how arbitrage betting works online.

Points spread bets are therefore often a popular choice, as they even up the odds between the two teams. Totals and props bets are also common NFL bets.


One of the biggest differences in NHL betting in comparison to other popular team sports is that a tie that sends the game into overtime, is a common occurrence. This means that as well as the regular moneyline, there is also the option of a three-way moneyline.

The latter is often known as the ’60-minute line’ and allows you to bet on the tie, as well as either team to win. Such 3 way bets are alternative lines. In closely matched games, it’s possible for all three picks to be underdogs.


Basketball is a high-scoring sport, which makes betting against the spread an interesting option for bettors, as there is often more value to be found there than on the moneyline.

With so many points being scored, there is a plethora of props options. These props are available for both teams and individual players, with the statistics being broken down to form attractive betting markets.


Major League Baseball is is another sport that is statically rich, creating the possibility of all sorts of props bets and totals markets. The margins of victory in the MLB can be relatively tight, which means that run line markets are available with three options, which includes the tie.

As is the case with the NHL, when a tie is a possibility, you can often get a scenario where there is no favorite strong enough to be odds-on in the betting, with all three choices ranked as underdogs.

Pros & Cons of Plus Minus Sports Betting

No evaluation of what does plus and minus mean in betting would be complete without a look at the advantages and disadvantages of this odds format. Here are the pros and cons as we see them.


  • Clearly indicates when there is a strong favorite
  • Returns are shown within the odds format
  • Prices will generally be close in popular spreads markets
  • Often more simple to calculate than fractional odds


  • Decimal odds are much easier to understand
  • Can be complicated to work out returns depending on stake levels

What Does Plus And Minus Mean in Betting Strategies?

By now you should understand how these type of odds work and be itching to place a bet of your own. Before you do, consider these strategies which will aid your profitability.

Make the Most of the Format

One of the strengths of the American odds system is that when you see a minus sign in a market, you know that you have a clear favorite. A strong odds-on favorite is priced in such a way because the oddsmakers and/or the betting public, think that there is a very good chance that it will win.

When you see such favorites, do a deep dive into the stats to evaluate whether it deserves to be priced in such a way. You may decide that it does, in which case you can tail the bet.

If however, you decide that there’s no way that the odds should be so short, then it will make sense to fade the public, which is when you oppose the consensus betting opinion.

Don’t Underestimate Minus Bets

Strong favorites at betting sites for boxing that have a minus indicate that even a successful bet will return winnings that are less than your original stake. Many bettors are dismissive about such odds and only want to back underdog picks that will return multiple times their stakes.

They don’t tend to be the most successful gamblers. Those in the know, understand that if there is reason to think that a favorite is realistically priced, then they can provide value, regardless of how short the odds are.

People often turn their nose up at betting odds which represent huge returns if viewed as a regular financial trade. Would you dismiss a stock tip that could give you a quick return of 50% on your investment?

Short-priced favorites can also be valuable collectively, when put together in a parlay, or a combination bet such as a trixie or Canadian.

Always Evaluate Value

In the previous two tips we have talked about the evaluation of value. A value bet is when the odds are bigger than they really should be, based on the true probability of the wager winning.

Whether you have narrow minus odds on a favorite, or huge plus odds on an underdog, there could still be extra value to be found in that bet. Explore the concept of EV in betting and do plenty of statistical research on any event that you’re planning to bet on, so that you can spot such opportunities.

Often, in markets with only two possibilities, such as the moneyline, look out for value bets due to the glaring lack of it in one outcome. If the odds of one of the selections are obviously too short, then it will generally mean that the other team is priced at bigger odds than should really be the case.


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