How to Read Sports Betting Odds & Lines - A Beginners Guide

Fact Checked by Joss Wood

Landing on an Ohio sportsbook can be both exciting and confusing. If you're new to it all, the various types of betting odds can be tricky to read.

There are a lot of different types of bets — moneylines, point spreads, futures odds, and much more — that you can place. This article will provide a great introduction. Keep reading for an in-depth overview, intended to turn you into an expert on reading sports betting odds and lines.

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How to Read Ohio Betting Odds & Lines

If you're looking for tips for betting on professional sports, you're in the right place. Before you can make a wager or collect a payout, it's important to learn how to read lines and odds for Ohio sports betting apps and online sites. Here's how it's done.

In the American format, odds for a given game are organized around the fact that there are always two teams, a favorite and an underdog. Each of the two teams will have a three digit number displayed next to it, with either a plus sign (+) denoting underdog status, or a minus sign (-) denoting favorite status. This number corresponds to the implied probability that the team will win the game, and the amount that you stand to win if you bet on it.

The three digit number (example +120, -120) corresponds to either winning a payout of $100, or placing a wager of $100, depending on whether you're betting on the favorite or the underdog.

Let's say that you want to bet on a hockey game, where the Columbus Blue Jackets are facing off against the Minnesota Wild. In this example, the Blue Jackets are favored, and the Wild are the underdogs, so the odds might display as Columbus -130, and Minnesota +120.

When you're placing your bet on the favorite, the three digit number reflects how much you have to bet to collect a payout of $100. To win $100 by betting on Columbus, you'd have to place a wager of $130.

When you're betting on the underdog, the three digit number reflects how much you stand to win if you make a $100 wager. So if you bet $100 on the Wild, and they win, you would collect $120. You can also think about this in smaller amounts, if you bet $1 on the Wild, you'd collect $1.20.

Easy, right? Next, we'll explain different types of betting line.

Point Spreads

One common way to bet is on point spreads. The line on its own (e.g. +110) tells you how much money your bet stands to pay, but it doesn't tell you what needs to happen in order for your bet to win. A point spread—which displays as a number with a plus sign or a minus sign next to the odds—does.

Let's use an example. You're looking to bet on a football game, and tonight the Cincinnati Bengals are playing the Dallas Cowboys. During the 2022-2023 NFL Season, BetMGM Ohio offered the following odds:

  • Bengals -5.5 | -110
  • Cowboys +5.5 | -110

The odds are the same on either side—you need to wager $1.10 to win $1—but the points spread means that the score—not just the winning team—determines whether your bet wins or loses. If you bet on the Cowboys at +5.5, if they lose by 5 points or less, your bet still wins. You can think about this as adding the spread to the points that the team actually scores. So if the final score would have been 27-22 for Cincinnati, but you add 5.5 to Dallas's score, then it's actually 27.5-27 for Dallas. Even though the team loses, the score "covers" the spread, so the bet wins.

It works the other way around too. Since Cincinnati is -5.5, if you bet them to win, they have to win by 6 or more points for the bet to return you money. It's as simple as that: when you're betting on a points spread it's less important who wins than whether the team covers.

Totals or Over/Under

Another way of betting is to make a wager on the total number of points scored, which is sometimes referred to as an over/under. This means that, for a given matchup, the sportsbook suggests a total number of points that will be scored by both teams combined, and you make your wager on whether you think the final score will be over or under that number. The outcome doesn't matter when you make these kinds of wagers on games.

For example, if the Ohio State Buckeyes are playing the Michigan Wolverines in an NCAA college football game, the over/under offered by Caesars Sportsbook Ohio might be 60.5 points. You may see lines like this:

  • Over 60.5 | -110
  • Under 60.5 | -110

Based on the Ohio State vs Michigan odds, if you think the final score will add up to a total higher than that number (e.g. 35 to 28, which would be 63 points) then you'd bet the Over. If you think it will be low scoring, then you want to bet the Under.


The moneyline (or money line) bet is probably the most straightforward way of betting. If you bet on a moneyline, you're just betting on the result of a match. If you pick the correct outcome—let's say you wagered on the winning team, or you correctly predicted a draw—then your bet cashes. These kinds of wagers are most often made on games played in a lower-scoring sport, like baseball, hockey, or soccer.

For instance, if the Cleveland Guardians are playing the Detroit Tigers in an MLB game, you might bet the Cleveland moneyline on FanDuel Ohio. If the Guardians win, then so does your bet.


A parlay bet combines two or more individual wagers into one single bet. Because there are more moving parts you need to correctly predict, parlays can often provide more lucrative odds, but it's riskier, since in order for the overall bet to pay you money, all of the individual component wagers need to hit too.

For example, if the Cincinnati Bengals are playing the Chicago Bears, and you want to place a parlay bet, then you might bet on the Bengals at -4.5, and Joe Burrow to throw at least two touchdowns. For your bet to pay out, both of those things need to happen. If the Bengals win by 5 but Burrow only throws one touchdown, the parlay loses.


A teaser is a modified kind of parlay, which allows bettors to make a kind of trade with the sportsbooks. The bettor accepts slightly worse odds, and the sportsbook provides a more generous point spread.

For instance, if you're making the parlay on the Bengals-Bears game from the last example, turning it into a teaser might involve lowering the odds from +250 to +200, in order to change the spread from -4.5 to -1.5. The payout is lower, but the likelihood it hits is higher, since the Bengals don't have to win by as wide a margin.

In-Game Betting

In-game (also known as "live") betting, refers to bets that are placed after a game has already started. While games take place, sportsbooks will offer fluctuating live betting odds, and you can take these into account and place bets in the heat of the action.

For example, if the Columbus Blue Jackets are underdogs against the heavily favored Las Vegas Golden Knights, the betting odds on Vegas winning might not be very lucrative before the game starts. But if Columbus takes an early lead, then placing a live bet on Vegas while they are down might get you much better odds than if you'd made the bet before the game started. This is also a fun and popular way to spice up a game you're planning on watching. PointsBet Ohio has some of the best live betting options in the state, so we recommend live bettors give the operator a try.

Prop Bets

A proposition bet (prop bet) is a bet placed on a smaller event within the game, that is not necessarily related to the final outcome. Instead, it is related to a particular player, team or other specific outcome during a game or match.

In an NBA game, for example, you might place a prop bet on how many 3-point shots Kevin Love makes for the Cavaliers. Each betting site will offer different types of prop events, and they can add a unique kind of excitement to the smaller details of a game.

All sportsbooks offer prop bets, but some may other more than others. For example, DraftKings Ohio may offer 100 different player and team props on a game, whereas others may only offer 50 or so.


Futures odds are another very popular way to play. The name is fairly self-explanatory: these are bets placed on events that take place in the future, usually more than a couple weeks away.

For example, you might bet on the Cleveland Browns to win the Super Bowl all the way at the beginning of the season. It's hard to predict sports this far in advance, so this kind of betting is notoriously difficult to translate into winnings. Conversely, because it's so hard, the odds are steep, and if you get one right the payout can be big.

Fractional Odds vs. Decimal Odds - What's the Difference?

Odds don't always display the same way. While this might appear to be a lot of complicated math, we promise that it's super simple when you take a closer look. This next section should clear up any confusion around the different kinds of odds you might encounter in your betting career.

Fractional Odds and How They Work

Fractional odds display the odds, you guessed it, as a fraction. For example, if you were looking to make a futures bet on the Bengals to win the Super Bowl at the beginning of the season, the odds might display as 20/1. This means that if you wagered $100, and they won, your bet would return $2,000 (20 x $100).

Fractional odds are especially popular in British and Irish markets, so if you're betting on European soccer leagues, you might run into this kind of thing more often.

Decimal Odds and How They Work

Decimal odds display the odds as a whole number followed by a decimal point. The number corresponds to how much you win for every $1 wagered. If the odds are 1.75, and you bet one dollar, you'd make 75 cents, plus your original $1 stake. In decimal odds, any number under 2 means the bet is on a favorite (the same as a minus sign in a moneyline) since you make back your stake plus an amount that's less than your stake.

This is also more common in international markets, so if you like to bet on the Olympics or the PGA Tour then you might want to familiarize yourself with decimal odds.

Get the Best Odds for Ohio Sports Bettors

Now that you know how to read odds and lines, get out there and start shopping around! There's no shortage of exciting teams in the state of Ohio currently, so there should be a lot of fun to be had making wagers on your favorite sport.

Ohio Sports Betting Odds FAQs


Julian Miller is a student, freelance writer and avid sports fan. He currently lives and works in Quebec, Canada, and is committed to providing up-to-date information on all things sports betting in North America.

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