American Odds and the Concept of -110
For a first-time sports gambler, checking out odds and betting lines in a casino sportsbook can leave you feeling less than confident.
All you want to do is make a simple bet but all you can see are an assortment of team names with numbers next to them, all of which, for some reason, are 110 or higher. Some of these numbers have the plus symbol in front of them and others have minuses. At first glance it can be pretty intimidating and you wouldn’t be the first person to give up right then and there.
What you’re looking at are American odds. They represent how much a bet on each team pays out and they also show you which team is favored to win and how heavily they’re favored.
If it looks overwhelming, don’t worry. Reading odds lines and understanding the concept of -110 is nowhere near as complicated as it seems. We’re going to take you through it all step by step right here.
Our goal is to make odds crystal clear so you feel comfortable knowing your first bets will be well-informed and well-placed.
What Does -110 Mean in Sports Betting?
The minus and plus signs are really important to pay attention. Along with the number, they tell you tons of information about the bet and the match.
Keep reading for more detailed explanations of what the plus and minus signs mean and how to read them.
Odds with Minus Sign (Favorite)
The minus sign shows you which team is favored. When you bet on the favorite you get worse payout odds on your bet since they’re more likely to win.
- The team with a negative number (like -110) is the favorite.
- The number next to the minus sign is the amount you must bet to win $100 in profit.
- If the number is -110, you must bet $110 to win $100.
Odds with a Plus Sign (Underdog)
When you see a plus sign in front of a number (like +150 for example) it tells you which team is the underdog. You get a higher payout betting on the underdog since they’re less likely to win.
- The team with the plus sign (like +150) is the underdog.
- The number tells you how much profit you will win if you bet $100
- If the number is +150, a $100 bet will win you $150 in profit.
Examples of -110 in Sports Betting
Let’s look at how the concept of -110 works in three popular kinds of bets: Point spreads, money lines and over/unders.
Team |
Point Spread |
Moneyline |
Over/Under |
Cleveland |
+8.5 (-110) |
+310 |
O 49.5 (-110) |
New Orleans |
-8.5 (-110) |
-400 |
U 49.5 (-110) |
Notice how the point spread and the Over/Under are both listed at -110. This is really important to understand. When you see a -110 line, you can consider it similar to an even money outcome, like a coin flip.
Point spread outcomes will most often pay this amount because the professional bookmakers are very good at predicting who will win any given game and by how many points. In doing so they are essentially making the point spread wager one that is as close to equal for both sides as possible.
Therefore, the expectation they predict is supposed to be like betting on heads or tails on a coin flip.
The same can be said for Over/Under bets because the bookmakers set a line that they hope will get equal amounts of punters above and below their predicted number.
Moneyline bets are the ones that can sometimes see huge paydays for underdogs or safe returns for massive favorites.
Since bookmaker predictions are expected to be accurate, the idea is that the total amount of wagers placed is evenly spread on both sides and the outcome of the game close to their estimation. Again, this is how they reduce their risk and ensure their safe profit.
To convert American odds (including -110) to other odds formats and to calculate your payout, use our handy and free odds calculator and converter.
Why is -110 So Important to Casinos and Sportsbooks?
Before we explain why -110 is the most common betting line in sports, let’s reiterate the fact that sportsbooks, by definition, exist to make money. Like most things in the gambling world, the whole point is to turn a profit.
The reason why you see -110 most often is because it represents the odds required by a sportsbook to guarantee a 10% commission as long as the betting public as a whole is wagering evenly on both teams. -110 is also the most common odds you’ll see on most point spread lines and Over/Under lines.
As we said before, a bettor laying action on a -110 point spread line must lay $110 to win $100. The oddsmakers want equal action on both sides because if they can do that, they reduce the risk of taking any big losses and guarantee their profit on the juice from each bet.
This is why casinos and sportsbooks employ professional oddsmakers to set the lines that are most likely to draw equal interest on both sides of the bet. That way the casino makes a profit on the commission regardless of which team wins.
The value the house earns from this -110 line is called the juice or vigorish. Over the long run, the house makes their “fee” on bets because for every winner of a -110 bet that is matched by a loser of a -110, the house comes away with a $10 profit (assuming $100 was bet in both cases).
Basically you can think of it as the cost of running a business. It’s their bottom ‘line’. No pun intended.
Reduced Juice and Nickel Lines
If you do your homework and search across casinos you can find sportsbooks offering what are called ‘reduced juice’ or ‘nickel lines’. These are lines that the sportsbook will move to a lower “price” of -105. This basically means they’re reducing their commission from 10% to 5%. That’s why it’s called a nickel line.
The casino may choose to do this to encourage more betting for a certain team or point total.
Things like this happen because a sportsbook wants to reduce risk to guarantee a profit. When incoming betting shows an imbalance of public opinion (or if a whale decides to make a big splash) the casino will do whatever they can to tip the scales back to even to avoid a potentially big loss.
Taking advantage of a nickel line can give the savvy bettor an edge in both the short and the long run.
It isn’t always ‘free candy for everyone’. The casinos sometimes roll it the other way and move lines to -120 or -130 so pay close attention.
Learn the -110 Concept and Reap the Benefits
It may take some time to understand odds and lines but don’t worry, it becomes second nature really quickly. Even if you skipped math in high school and preferred to spell funny words upside down on your calculator, getting the gist of the math in sports betting is more about habit and routine than anything else.
And if you do have trouble getting your head around the concept, many online sportsbooks have a simplified payout format that lets you enter the amount you want to bet to see how much it will pay out before you actually place your bet or submit your ticket.