How to bet on sports
October 28, 2020 – 10:03 am

Understanding spreads, money lines and totals, and reading American and decimal odds

One of the most confusing things for a new sports bettor can be understanding the different bet types and odds formats. If you’re just starting out, or even if you’re a pro, here’s a quick refresher on how to place bets.

Let’s take a look at a baseball game as an example: the Chicago White Sox are playing the Oakland Athletics. Here’s what that game looks like on the Nitrogen Sports platform:


(click the image to zoom in)

You’ll notice several components, including the max bet, the point spread, the money line, and the over / under, as well as the odds in decimal and American form. If you prefer viewing decimal or American odds only (not both), you can change this in your account settings.

Point Spread: Spreads help to balance the odds of each team winning. In this example, Chicago will have an extra 1.5 points added to their final score. This means that Oakland will have to beat them by 2 points in order for the people who bet on them to win.

Money Line: This is the simplest type of bet to place – you’re betting on who will win the game outright.

Totals (over / under): In these bets, you’re betting on what you think the total combined score will be. In this case, you’re betting that the total score will be over or under 9. If you think that both teams together will score less than 9 points, you’d bet under. If you think they’ll score more, you’d bet over.

Decimal odds:

Decimal odds might seem more confusing than American odds, but they’re actually very easy to work with. Do you know the difference between 6/5 and 7/6? Not many people can do that math in their heads, but with decimals, you know right away.

Consider if the decimal odds are 2.696, like they are if you’d bet on the Chicago money line. If you place a bet of 0.1 BTC, your total return is 0.2696 BTC (0.1 BTC x 2.696) – we’d round this up to 0.27 BTC. The key to remember with decimal odds is that they always include your stake.

American odds:

If the number is positive, this number is the amount of money you’ll win on a 100 BTC bet. In this case, a winning 0.1 BTC bet on the White Sox money line would be worth 0.17 BTC. Don’t forget that your stake is always returned, so your take away would be 0.27 BTC.

If the number is negative, it represents the amount of money you need to bet in order to win 100 BTC. In the example above, you’d need to risk 189 BTC to win 100. If you wanted to win 0.1 BTC, you’d have to bet 0.189 BTC.

Interesting facts

In the game of poker, the play largely centers on the act of betting, and as such, a protocol has been developed to speed up play, lessen confusion, and increase security while playing. Different games are played using different types of bets, and small variations in etiquette exist between cardrooms, but for the most part the following rules...

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