Are you a first-time sports bettor and are confused by betting odds? Don’t worry; you are definitely not alone. It is very common for people new to sports betting not to understand how to read betting odds or know what the plus and minus signs mean. That’s why we’re here to help.

What Do the Plus and Minus Signs Mean?

Whenever you see a point spread for an NFL game, or any sporting event for that matter, you will always see a plus or minus sign next to them. But what do they mean?

When wagering on the point spread, you’re making a bet on the margin of victory. The team identified as the favorite will have a minus sign next to that number, meaning they have to win by more than that many points for them to “beat the spread.”

Meanwhile, the underdog will have a plus sign, and as long as they don’t lose by more than that number, bets on them to cover will cash.

American Odds

All bets, including on the spread, will have odds in the form of hundreds, also known as “American odds,” which are used to indicate your payout. The difference here, yet again, are plus and minus signs.

When you see a plus sign next to American odds, that is used to demonstrate the payout in the context of your potential profit from a $100 bet. The minus sign, on the other hand, represents how much you would have to wager to make $100 back.

Like on the point spread, when looking at the odds to win outright, also known as the “moneyline,” the underdog will have a plus sign and the favorite a minus sign next to them. The larger the number next to either a plus or a minus sign, the bigger the underdog or favorite.


To make this really easy to understand, let’s look at the odds for the 2023 NFL season opener between the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs.

With the Chiefs being -6.5 on the point spread, they will have to win by seven or more points to cover. Both the Chiefs and Lions have -110 odds next to their point spread, meaning you would have to wager $110 to win $100 on either team to cover.

With moneyline odds of Lions +225 and Chiefs -278, a $100 bet on Detroit to win outright would win you $225 (2.25-to-1 odds).