Plus Minus Betting – How to Understand Odds & Plus and Minus Betting Explained

If you’ve never heard of plus minus betting, this refers to a specific odds format that’s used by online sportsbooks. This is also referred to as the ‘American odds’ format, and is synonymous with football and NBA betting. It also provides an interesting alternative to fractional and decimal odds.

But what do we mean by plus and minus in betting and how can you successfully read this odds format? We’ll explore this in detail in the guide below, while asking how this particular format works in relation to specific sports.

What Does Plus and Minus Mean in Betting?

When it comes to sports betting terminology, plus minus betting is one of the most commonly used concepts in the bettign world. Plus minus betting is so-called because it includes the trademark plus and minus signs alongside three-digit numbers. These symbols each serve a different purpose, as they refer to betting underdogs and favorites respectively. They also change how you’ll read the betting line and its associated three-digit number. Simply put, understanding what plus and minus mean in betting is one of the building blocks of learning how to bet on sports.

If you back a betting underdog with a + sign, the accompanying number will relay how much profit you can win for every $100 staked. Conversely, the number accompanying a minus sign lets you know how much you’ll have to stake to win $100, with negative betting odds synonymous with short price favorites.

In some competitively priced outright markets, all outcomes may feature a plus sign and relatively long odds. However, there will always be a betting favorite with negative odds in matches featuring just two teams or players, so it’s important to read plus minus betting lines carefully before placing your bet.

Plus Minus Betting Odds Explained: How They Work in Sports Betting

To provide further context, let’s take a closer look at how plus minus betting works in the realm of sports betting. For simplicity, we’ll focus on a straightforward win market, which will feature a clear betting favorite and underdog.

For example, let’s say that you wanted to bet on the MLB clash between the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Angels. Home advantage helps to make the Rays the -150 betting favorites, while the Angels can be backed to win at around +125. Simply put, if you see a negative number when you read betting odds, you’re look at the favorite. If you see a plus sign, that team is the underdog.

If you choose to back the Rays, you’ll have to stake $150 to bank a $100 return. Conversely, wagering $75 on Tampa to prevail will unlock profit of $50, and in this case, you’ll bank $125 in total inclusive of your original stake if successful. If you fancy the Angels, however, you’ll win $125 for every $100 that you bet successfully. So, wagering $100 on an away win at positive betting odds will see you bank a profit of $125. In total, you’ll walk away with $225 including your original stake amount.

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How To Read Plus Minus Odds in Betting

BetOnline Plus Minus Betting Explained

In addition to the win market, sports betting operators also deploy American odds and the plus minus format across a range of alternative betting lines, rather than fractional odds. These include totals and point spread bets, which unlock even money markets where there are only two potential outcomes. They enable you to create value when engaging in match betting and are particularly popular among seasoned bettors who use specific sports betting strategies.

But how can you read plus minus odds across different markets? Well, let’s say that you wanted to wager on the same MLB match between the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Angels. Spread betting, or run line betting in baseball, has become a big deal for MLB bettors due to the relative mismatches that occur during the regular season and the potential to create inflated returns.

In this case, the Rays are the favorites, so you may utilize a negative spread or ‘handicap’ that enables you to back them at enhanced odds. For example, if you apply a spread of -2.5 runs to the Rays, you can back the home side to win at odds of +230. Remember, they’re priced at -150 to win outright.

However, the Rays will need to win by three runs or more for the wager to be successful, so it’s important to create a spread that accurately reflects the perceived difference between two competing teams.

Further Examples of How To Read Plus Minus Odds

BetOnline Plus Minus Betting Explained

You’ll also find plus minus odds used to price totals markets. Such markets usually refer to the number of points, runs or goals that will be scored in a particular game, with sportsbooks setting various totals as individual betting lines.

You’ll then select a line based on your analysis of the game and the competing teams, before determining whether the actual total will be over or under this threshold and placing your plus minus bets. So let’s learn how to read betting odds when it comes to plus munis betting.

For example, let’s take a look at the 2024-25 NFL opener between the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles. You can bet on over and under 48.5 points being scored during the game at negative odds of -110. So, you’ll have to stake $110 on your selected outcome to bank a return of $100, although these odds will likely fluctuate ahead of kickoff.

In this case, your analysis may focus on how many runs each team will score in the game. This could be influenced by a number of variables, or the fact that the MLB and other professional baseball leagues have seen an increase in double-digit scores in recent times. Regardless, you can see that the Rays are priced at -110 to register over 4.5 runs during the game. Similarly, the Angels are -135 to score more than 3.5 runs, which makes sense given that they’ve averaged 4.72 runs in 2024 so far and 5.17 on the road.

As for the Rays, they’ve averaged 4.32 runs per game this season, but this drops to just 4.08 at home. So, backing them to score over 4.5 runs in the game at -110 may not offer significant value, and you should consider alternative totals and betting lines.

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How To Bet Plus-Minus Odds

Before you get started with plus minus sports betting, it’s important to register for an account with a licensed and reputable sportsbook. You can then start to compare the available plus minus betting odds and lines, before building your first bet slip! Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you make an initial wager on plus-minus betting odds.

  1. Select Your Sports Betting Site

    First, you’ll need to choose your sports betting site. If you reside in a state that hasn’t legalized sports betting, you’ll need to identify a secure and licensed offshore sportsbook such as BetOnline.
  2. BetOnline Sports Betting

  3. Create Your Betting Account

    Once your chosen site is loaded, you can sign up for an account. The ‘Register’ or Signup’ button may be located in the top left or right-hand corner of the homepage.
  4. Verify Your Account

    You’ll then have to enter your personal information over one or two secure screens. Data such as your name, date of birth and corporeal address will be used to verify your identity and ensure you’re old enough to gamble legally.
  5. BetOnline sign up forms.

  6. Make Your First Deposit

    Once your identity has been verified, you’ll be able to complete your first deposit. Head to the ‘Deposit’ or ‘Cashier’ page, and be sure to comply with the site’s minimum limit. If you want to qualify for a welcome bonus, double check to see if the minimum deposit limit varies and confirm whether you’re required to enter a promo code.
  7. Bonus add on at BetOnline

  8. Start Playing

    Both your real money and bonus balances should load immediately if you use an eligible payment method. You can then start browsing your chosen sports and comparing the latest plus minus odds. With sites like BetUS, betting lines will automatically populate the bet slip in the bottom right-hand corner when you select them.
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Plus Minus Betting for Popular Sports

For plus minus betting odds to be fully explained and understood, we’ll need to explore how they work in relation to different sports and leagues. So, here’s our take on how to read and leverage plus minus odds when wagering on different disciplines.

NFL Plus Minus Betting

As we’ve touched on, NFL betting offers bettors a diverse selection of plus minus betting lines and markets. These include moneylines, point spreads and team and player props, each of which lend themselves to potentially lucrative same-game parlays. You’ll often find quite large spreads when browsing NFL plus minus betting lines, although the associated odds don’t vary much from one game to another. For example, it’s common to see certain spread bets priced at -110 in this league, thanks largely to the ‘vigorish’ or commission charged by sportsbooks.

In a recent example, the Kansas City Chiefs came into Super Bowl LVIII as the underdogs, with sharp NFL betting pundits noting that the reigning champs could upset a lot of wagers on the San Francisco 49ers. With the Kansas City Chiefs getting underdog point spread and moneyline odds, bettors who backed Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce won big thanks to KC’s overtime heroics.

NBA Plus Minus Betting

The NBA also boasts a huge and varied range of plus minus betting lines. You can access a slightly larger selection of player props when betting on the NBA too, mostly pertaining to points scored, rebounds, assists and selected defensive actions. However, there are many more games during the regular NBA season, which unlock a greater number of plus minus moneylines. This affords you a broader choice of markets, but may pose some challenges in terms of bankroll management.

MLB Plus Minus Betting

Plus minus moneyline betting is also incredibly popular in Major League Baseball, as is the over/under on how many runs will be scored by each team. This market has become particularly popular recently, MLB matches now producing a much higher number of double-digit scores. Last summer saw a red-letter day for the sport, when 12 different MLB teams scored at least 10 runs during a single gameweek. Teams averaged 4.6 runs per game last year, and this could increase further in 2024. So, look out for higher plus minus run lines when wagering on the MLB.

NHL Plus Minus Betting

The NHL deals in goals rather than points or runs, with the spread here often described as the ‘puck line’. So, this will impact how you read certain plus minus betting lines in the NHL, although the presentation of the odds and what they relay remains unchanged. The NHL regular season also features a huge number of games, so you can access a ton of moneylines. Over/under betting on the total number of goals scored is also popular here. Whether you’re betting on the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks or the Boston Bruins, plus minus betting lines offer hockey fans a chance to get in on the action.

Pros and Cons of Plus Minus Betting

By now, you should be more familiar with plus minus sports betting on different sports. However, you may still prefer alternative odds formats. Here’s a summary of the pros and cons associated with plus minus betting.


  • It’s easy to calculate returns with positive betting odds
  • It’s the most common odds format in the US
  • You can use plus minus odds to calculate implied probability
  • You can identify betting favorites and underdogs quicker


  • Plus minus odds are harder to read than decimal or fractional formats

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Expert Tips for Plus Minus Betting

While we may have answered the question “what does minus mean in betting?”, you may still need some helpful tips. So, we’ve prepared some expert plus minus betting tips to help you construct a viable wagering strategy.

  • Learn How Read Point Spreads and Totals: Totals markets also utilize plus and minus symbols, to highlight over/under betting lines. Different points, runs, or goal spreads are defined by + and – signs, too.
  • Always Use $100 as Your Baseline When Betting on Favorites: This is a common betting strategy. When backing a betting underdog with positive odds, you can immediately see how much you’ll win for every $100 staked. This makes it easy to calculate returns based on your initial bet. We’d also recommend using $100 as your baseline when leveraging negative betting odds.
  • Remember That Not All Markets Feature a Negative Odds Favorite: This one’s easy. When betting on futures markets, you often won’t see a negative odds favorite. Why? Because such markets often feature large and competitive fields. Due to that fact, the implied probability values afford each outcome positive odds.
  • Use Data to Leverage Plus Minus Bets: Some sports also offer access to a more diverse range of relevant datasets. These datasets include official team rankings (according to key metrics) and player performance statistics. This information can be leveraged to identify value in plus minus odds, especially in spread and totals markets. For more advanced bettors, they can be used when looking to construct same-game parlays.

Plus Minus Betting FAQs

How do plus and minus odds work?

What does minus +1.5 mean in betting?

What are negative odds?

Is plus or minus more likely to win?

What does +3 mean in a sports bet?


About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Lewis Humphries
Sports Betting Expert

Lewis is a seasoned sports writer and betting expert at ReadWrite. He has been written about sports, remote betting and sportsbooks for more than 10 years, with his work featuring in publications such as The Boot Room, Yahoo Sports and 90min. He writes most extensively about soccer, basketball, American football and boxing, but retains an interest in a huge range of sports.

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