The sports betting odds board is crowded and filled with numbers. As seasoned bettors are well aware, knowing how to read it and understanding what the numbers are telling you are key steps as you work toward improving your skills.
While the odds can seem intimidating at first glance, the learning curve is far from insurmountable. If you’re willing to put in the effort and exercise some patience, you can be up to speed in no time.
Our complete guide to sports betting odds in Ontario will help you do just that. We’ll cover everything you need to know from top to bottom, and even point you to the best odds in anticipation of the province’s legal single-game sports betting launch. Read on.
Latest sports betting odds in Ontario
Once single-game wagering gets the official green light in Ontario, a number of the industry’s top operators are expected to set up shop. They’ll have odds for all of the games and events available for betting. You can view all of them in one convenient place: our customizable live odds feed below. Be sure to check back often for the latest real-time numbers.
American, decimal and fractional odds: what’s the difference?
There are three primary ways odds are displayed. Generally, what you encounter will be based on your geographic region, but it’s still good practice to know how all three formats work.
This is the default listing at the vast majority of sportsbooks. Odds will be listed with either negative or positive numbers. The former indicates the favourite, while the latter points to the underdog.
- Ottawa Senators +130
- Toronto Maple Leafs -170
Most prominently used at European sportsbooks, this is also the format used by Ontario Lottery and Gaming’s Pro-Line games. The larger of the two numbers points to the favourite in the contest, while the lower value is for the underdog.
- Edmonton Elks 2.2
- Hamilton Tiger-Cats 1.8
Horse racing odds are listed in this form, as are sports betting odds across the pond in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The lower fraction is for favourites, while the higher value indicates the underdog.
- Toronto FC 6/5
- CF Montreal 4/1
- Draw 5/2
The top legal sportsbooks in the industry lean on American odds as the basis for their lines. If they happen to offer odds in the other formats, then there will be a way to toggle back and forth to see what you want. For the remainder of this article, we’ll focus on American odds.
How to read a standard sports betting line
When you click on your sport of choice at online and mobile sportsbooks, you’ll see all of the upcoming contests. Each of the events will be listed out with the odds and lines for the main bet types. You’ll see something along these lines.
|Boston Celtics||+120||+2.5 (-110)||Over 209.5 (-110)|
|Toronto Raptors||-140||-2.5 (-110)||Under 209.5 (-110)|
Right next to the two team names are a series of numbers for the moneyline, point spread and totals. On the moneyline, you just have to pick the winner. For the spread, the side you choose has to cover the given number. Then, totals have to do with the number of combined points scored.
When reading the moneyline and spread, look for negative numbers that indicate favourites while the digits are positive for dogs. Spread and total bets have the number listed by oddsmakers, as well as the actual odds for placing the bet.
In our example, the Toronto Raptors are favoured on the moneyline. They’re also a 2.5-point favourite on the spread in a game with a projected total of 209.5 points. This is the standard game listing in most spots, but some operators will list the spread first followed by the moneyline and totals.
Do odds work similarly for all sports?
Sports betting odds work in the same fashion for all sports on the board. The overall concepts are also the same. However, there are some sport-specific nuances to keep in mind. Beginning with the team-based sports, the main variance concerns the point spread.
While all of the top sports have spread-type bets available, their names and what to expect vary. The following sports use the standard format that we’ve covered in our example: moneyline, point spread and totals.
For the spread in these sports, oddsmakers can set the bar anywhere from the low single-digits all the way to 10+ points. The range in between the numbers indicates the perceived closeness of the matchup. As an example, a CFL game set with a spread of a field goal or less projects to be tight. Those at a touchdown or greater project as slight mismatches.
The other big sports also use a spread element along with moneyline and totals bets as part of the main listing. However, the name of the wager is different, as is the range of the line.
- NHL: Puck line, typically set at 1.5
- MLB: Run line, typically set at 1.5
- MLS: Goal line, can be set at 0.5 or greater
While the numbers and names are different, the concept remains the same: the side you choose has to cover the line for the bet to be a winner. Also, while the numbers for NHL and MLB are generally the same, many books will also offer alternative lines, such as 2.0 or 2.5. MLS games will also have some alternatives to the main number listed.
Lastly, you’ll also see odds available for the top individual sports like golf, tennis, UFC and NASCAR, as well as those that fall into the niche category, such as rugby betting and table tennis. The odds are basically the same here, but the bet types can vary.
How odds work for different bet types
For every bet on the board at online and mobile sportsbooks, you’ll find odds attached. Let’s walk through what you need to know for all of the top ways to wager.
For this straightforward wager, you simply pick the winner from two choices. The direction of the numbers is important: negative for favourites and positive for underdogs.
- Montreal Canadiens +130
- Winnipeg Jets -150
The short range between the above numbers points to the anticipated closeness of the matchup.
Oddsmakers install a spread that is akin to an estimated margin of victory. You can choose the favourite minus the spread or roll with the underdog plus the points.
- Ottawa Redblacks +4.5 (-110)
- Toronto Argonauts -4.5 (-110)
Just like the moneyline, the range tells you how close the game is expected to be. To win a spread bet, the side you choose has to cover the line.
Also known as an over/under, this bet is all about the combined number of points scored in a contest. Sportsbooks set the bar with an estimate.
- Over 5.5 (-110)
- Under 5.5 (-110)
Lower-scoring sports like NHL and MLB will have totals in the single digits, CFL and NFL will be in double-digits, while NBA totals are set in the hundreds of points.
A prop targets some action adjacent to a game’s outcome. You can find the available options by clicking through on the main listing.
Total combined TDs for Josh Allen:
- Over 3.5 -130
- Under 3.5 +110
Many props revolve around player performances (see above). There will also be props that have multiple choices listed, such as the first goal-scorer in an NHL game.
These are wagers that you can place in real-time based on what’s happening in the game. There will be updated game lines and various prop opportunities to consider.
Which side will score three runs first?
- Boston Red Sox +105
- Toronto Blue Jays -125
Live betting markets move really fast, with odds and offerings that are constantly updating. A mobile app is the best option for staying on top of the fast-moving market.
These are wagers on outcomes that won’t be known until down the road, such as the winner of the next Stanley Cup or the regular season win total for an NFL team.
For example, Seattle Seahawks regular season wins:
- Over 5 (+115)
- Under 5 (-135)
Winning (or losing) futures bets can take entire seasons, so be sure to budget accordingly.
Pro-Line games from OLG are based on the parlay concept. You can place wagers like this at sportsbooks as well. A parlay bet includes two or more choices on a single bet.
- Jets over Canadiens -152
- Avalanche over Golden Knights +200
- Islanders over Bruins +122
- Hurricanes over Lightning +140
- Total parlay odds: +1225
In order to win a parlay bet, you need to be right on all choices. While the returns can be lucrative, one wrong choice means that the whole bet is busted.
When are sports betting odds released?
The answer depends on the sport and the bet type. For the futures market, you’ll find opportunities available all year round. For example, the odds for the next Super Bowl are unveiled soon after the current edition of the Big Game is in the books. The same holds true for other giant events like the Masters and Wimbledon.
For sports that play on a weekly schedule—think CFL and NFL—odds will come out soon after the current slate is in the books. On the daily sports—think NHL odds, MLB odds, and NBA odds—will be out either the night before or the day of the game. Regardless of sport, the initial release is highly anticipated. It gives bettors a first look at how oddsmakers perceive the matchup.
Why do sports betting odds move?
After the initial release, sports betting odds don’t stand still. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see a good deal of movement right up until game time. So exactly why does that happen? Here are the main reasons you’ll see movement on the odds board.
- Sportsbooks will adjust the numbers in response to betting action.
- New information may impact the proceedings.
- There could be a weather element or other news item impacting the game.
Once betting gets underway, sportsbooks may tweak the numbers as clear preferences emerge. While it’s next to impossible to have even action on both sides of a game, operators like to be as close as possible. Such balance limits liability on their end.
As for new information or news, it could be an injury to a key player or a disruptive forecast, such as heavy rain or winds. When researching your wagers, it’s always a good idea to track the odds from the initial release to present. You’ll want to understand exactly why they’ve moved.
What does line shopping mean?
When you like a game at a certain number, any sudden odds shift can cause frustration. However, you can lessen the impact by line shopping. This simply means that you are comparing the odds at multiple books.
Naturally, the goal is to find the numbers you like best. For example, you may like a CFL favourite at 2.5 points or fewer, but you feel less secure when the number is at a field goal or more. By line shopping, you can zero in on where your preference is available.
Over in the NHL, you may be happy with a moneyline favourite at odds of -140 or less, but don’t feel there’s enough value at -160 or worse. Line shopping can help you find the prices and returns you want. It makes for a great add-on to any well-rounded betting strategy.
Calculating potential payouts from sports betting odds
Before you click submit to place your bets at online and mobile sportsbooks, the operator will display the potential return for winning wagers. Despite that, it’s still a good idea to get to the point where you can know what to expect just by reading the odds for a matchup.
There are two main ways to do so. When reading the odds, remember these two points.
For negative odds, the number is equal to how much you have to wager for the potential return of $100.
Example: Bet $110 at odds of -110 for a chance to win back $100.
For positive odds, the number is equal to the amount you would get back for a winning $100 bet.
Example: A winning $100 bet at odds of +120 returns $120 in profit.
When you take a glance at the odds board, these two simple tips can help you quickly spot potential value. For those who’d like to go even deeper, there are formulas for calculating an exact number based on your wagering amount.
- Bet Amount/(Odds/100) = Potential profit
- Example with odds of -130 and a bet amount of $100
- $100/1.3 = $76.92
- Bet Amount * (Odds/100) = Potential profit
- Example with odds of +130 and a bet amount of $100
- $100 * (130/100)
- $100 * 1.3 = $130
There are also plenty of handicapping calculators to be found on the internet. Bookmark a favourite and refer back to it often for quick and painless calculations. Once you fully understand how the odds translate into payouts, your appreciation of the lines and any shifts will grow tremendously.
Do sports betting odds reveal probability?
Sports betting odds can point us toward the likelihood of an outcome. When oddsmakers set the numbers, they’re telling us the favourite and underdog, but we can also translate the odds into a probability of winning percentage by leaning on some simple formulas. Let’s consider a standard moneyline wager with a slight favourite on one side.
- Calgary Flames +110
- Edmonton Oilers -130
As the oddsmakers see it, the Oilers are the more likely winner. But how does that relate to actual percentage chances of a victory for either side? Here’s how to figure it out.
For negative odds
- Amount of odds divided by the sum of the odds plus 100. Multiply the result by 100.
- Example using odds of -130
- 130/(130+100) * 100
- 130/(230) *100
- 565 * 100 = 56.5 percent
For positive odds
- 100 divided by the amount of the odds plus 100. Multiply the result by 100.
- Example using odds of +110
- 100/(110+100) * 100
- 100/(210) * 100
- 476 * 100 = 47.6 percent
By walking through these calculations, we find that the Oilers have a 56.5 percent chance of winning based on the odds, while the Flames carry a win probability of 47.6 percent. If we add these two numbers together, we come up with 104.1. It’s not an even 100 due the vig built in by the sportsbook, but we still have a realistic idea of the chances for both sides.
Once again, by working the above into your repertoire, the way you perceive the odds will begin to shift. It’ll also help you to spot the lines that seem way off relative to your research. Once again, online probability calculators can assist, if needed.
Are the best sports betting odds from Las Vegas?
It wasn’t too long ago that the answer to this question was crystal clear. Las Vegas has been recognised as the “sports betting capital of the world” for decades. As such, the numbers coming out of the desert have been held in incredibly high regard. For years, the first and last word on sports betting odds came from Vegas oddsmakers.
These days, the story has evolved. Legal sports betting is available in more places, and the operators in those locales are putting out numbers that stack up quite well with Sin City’s odds. Due to market action, you’ll find variances, but you’ll likely find competitive sports betting odds much closer to home.
House rules for sports betting you need to know
All legal sportsbooks post house rules that need to be followed. The rules cover what bettors need to know about the placement and settlement of bets, as well as various factors that could potentially impact wagers. For sports betting odds, there are a few key points to remember.
- Your bet will be locked into its odds at time of placement. Any movement in the numbers from that point forward will not impact your wager.
- For events that are completely cancelled, any placed wagers will be voided with betting amounts refunded to users.
- When a final score lands exactly on a listed spread or total, the bet will be graded as a push and considered a tie. Wagers will again be refunded.
While that’s the gist, it’s still a good idea to review the house rules wherever you play. It’s better to know what to expect than deal with a costly surprise down the road.
More info: Why was my bet cancelled?
Key takeaways on sports betting odds
If you want to find long-term success with sports betting, understanding the odds board can help immensely. As your journey toward improving your betting skills continues, here are the key points to remember.
- The range between the numbers indicates the perceived closeness of the matchup.
- Odds can move based on betting action, so note the numbers at initial release and compare them to current lines.
- You can always shop around to compare prices at various sportsbooks.
- The odds can help you determine payouts and the likelihood of an outcome.
- You should bet only at odds that make you comfortable.
By keeping those five points in mind, you’ll be well on your way to beating the learning curve. After some additional practice, the sports betting odds board won’t seem anywhere near as intimidating as during that first glance.