What Does Plus and Minus Mean in Betting?

When you see a plus or minus upon perusing the betting odds, you may wonder, what does plus and minus mean in betting? Understanding the meaning of plus and minus in betting is crucial to understanding American betting odds properly. Here we get into all the details to fully explain the answer to the burning question: how does plus minus work in betting?

How Does Plus Minus Work in Sports Betting?

When betting on the best online sportsbooks in the US, you’ll commonly see American odds which are expressed differently than odds in other areas of the world. You’ll quickly notice that a plus (+) or minus (-) is frequently involved. This leads us to ask, what does plus and minus mean in betting?

The answer is straightforward, as reading American odds in a moneyline bet isn’t complex. American odds’ plus and minus symbols have different meanings depending on whether they express odds or a point spread.

In odds, these symbols represent what you need to bet to win a certain amount of money, while with spreads they represent the handicap introduced to even out matchups between teams. Leading sportsbooks will do the calculations for you concerning what your bets stand to win, meaning an external plus minus betting calculator shouldn’t be necessary. Below we dive deeper into how to read American odds and better understand plus-minus betting odds and spreads.

Spread markets for NFL

Looking for low margin spread betting? Sign up with BetOnline today.

50% Welcome Bonus up to $1,000


50% Welcome Bonus up to $1,000

  • BetOnline odds boosts available every day
  • Live betting available on all major sports
  • Excellent sportsbook 101 tutorial section
5 Stars
Play Now

How To Read Plus Minus Odds in Betting

Now that we’ve covered the basics of plus and minus in betting, let’s look at how plus/minus betting symbols work in a spread betting scenario. It’s simple, as the minus (-) symbol represents the point spread on the favorite, while the plus (+) symbol represents the point spread on the underdog.

If the Buffalo Bills are facing the Jacksonville Jaguars at -7.5, they need to win the game by at least eight points for your bet to cash. In this instance, the Jaguars would be +7.5, and they can lose by as much as seven, and you’ll still cash your bet. This is a way of evening matchups between teams of different skill levels in sports betting.

Now, you might ask, what does plus minus mean in betting when it comes to odds? It’s equally simple, and in the same example, generally, both teams will be listed at -110, which you’ll see after the spread on any top sportsbook.

This number represents what you stand to win if your bet emerges victorious. For -110 odds, you need to bet $110 to win $100. Say the money line odds were +110; in this case, a $100 wager will garner you a $110 win. Minus numbers represent that your winnings will be less than what you bet (if you win), while plus numbers represent scenarios in which you’ll gain more than your amount wagered (if you win).

Example of How To Read Plus Minus Odds

Here, let’s look at an example of an NFL game featuring the Cleveland Browns and Sans Francisco 49ers. As you can see below, various instances of plus and minus symbols denote odds and lines on the US’s three most common types of sports bets: spreads on the margin of victory, totals, and moneyline betting. We’ll answer the question “what does plus and minus mean in betting?”, using the following screenshots.

Spread betting

In the case of spread betting lines using this example you’ll see that the 49ers are -9.5 favorites, while the Browns are, in turn, +9.5 underdogs in the betting market. This means that the 49ers need to win by at least 10 points for you to emerge victorious on a San Fran bet, while the Browns can lose by as much as nine points, and you’ll win on Cleveland. A tie would be possible, in which both sides “push” and bettors receive their money back if the spread was to be, for instance, -9 | +9.

For the total you can see that it’s 36, and for the over to win, at least 37 points must be scored in the game, while for the under, 35 or fewer must be scored.

Moneyline odds are also expressed with plus/minus symbols. Here, the Browns are +410, while the 49ers are -515. As the 49ers are a favorite, you must bet $515 to win $100, while a $100 Browns bet wins you $410.

How To Bet Plus-Minus Odds

Utilize our in-depth instructions to discover how to bet plus-minus odds at a reputable sportsbook. Let’s look at the procedure one step at a time here.

1. Sign up at a sportsbook and log In

An email address, a username, and a password are requirements for new users. You’ll also be asked for your name, address, and birthdate.

BetOnline sports homepage

2. Locate a sporting event to bet on

The next step is to search the sportsbook for a betting option you’re interested in. Then, you’ll be able to see the plus-minus odds for spreads and totals betting, plus moneylines, and ascertain what bet you would like to place.

Bet options for an NFL game.

3. Select a betting choice

Now choose what betting selection you’d like to make. Upon choosing your option, it’ll populate on the bet slip of the sportsbook you’re wagering on.

BetOnline NFL markets with selection.

4. Enter the desired amount in dollars

Put the amount of money you wish to wager on your plus-minus pick in the relevant section. You’ll then know how much you’ll receive if your wager wins, and you don’t need to use a plus minus betting calculator as the sportsbook will do the calculations for you. Before continuing, make sure you’re happy with your choice.

Betslip at BetOnline.

5. Complete your plus-minus wager

You can now finalize your wager. Using the bet tracking section of your account, you can monitor the outcome of your wager once it has been placed on the sportsbook. You can follow the activity by using the in-game tracking services available at many leading sportsbooks.

Bet slip with stake.

Plus Minus Betting for Common Sports

We’ve given you a good overview of plus minus betting, but depending on the sport, it may look slightly different. Here, we’ll answer the question: what does plus minus mean in betting for the most famous American sports, respectively?

NFL Plus Minus Betting

In the NFL, you’ll see plus and minus symbols regarding different types of betting odds and markets point spreads, moneylines, totals, prop bets for the teams and individual players, and other common wager types. With spreads, they represent point handicaps between teams, while with odds, they tell you what you would stand to win and indicate less or more likely betting outcomes.

NBA Plus Minus Betting

In the NBA, plus/minus symbols have the same meaning as in the NFL. They either represent a spread or the odds on any standard wager. Reading the odds types and spreads for basketball games is no different.

MLB Plus Minus Betting

Once again, there’s no significant difference when reading Major League Baseball odds and lines. One important thing to know, though, is that there are no points in the MLB, and scoring is instead referred to in terms of runs. For this reason, you may see point spreads represented as “run lines,” but it means the same thing.

NHL Plus Minus Betting

The NHL is like baseball in that game scoring is not indicated in points but instead goals. Like the MLB, rather than seeing a point spread, the equivalent will often be indicated as a “puck line.” Still, this doesn’t matter as to how you read plus/minus lines and odds.

Get an incredible range of spreads US major leagues at Bovada.

75% Welcome Bonus up to $750


75% Welcome Bonus up to $750

  • 25+ sports markets including niche options like chess
  • Redeem points for cash through loyalty program
  • Deposit using cards or 6 cryptocurrency options
5 Stars
Play Now

Pros and Cons

Hopefully, we’ve largely answered the question: what does plus minus mean in betting? Yet you might wonder what the pros and cons of plusminus betting are, and here we get into some details.

Pros: pros

  • Point spreads even matchups in betting.
  • It’s easy to figure out bet payouts efficiently.
  • In the US, you’ll understand common odds.

Cons: cons

  • Non-US bettors may prefer decimal or fractional.
  • Depending on your bet amount, it could be confusing.
  • Spread and odds difference in meaning may be tricky.

Tips on Understanding Plus Minus Betting

When you’re looking to comprehend the answer to the inquiry: “what does plus minus mean in betting?”, it may help to receive some simple tips. Here we give you a few.

Know the Difference Between Odds and Spreads

Plus and minus symbols have different meanings depending on whether they’re associated with point spreads or odds. When next to a point spread number, they represent the handicap between the teams. When representing spread, total, or moneyline betting odds, they indicate what you stand to win on your wager.

Understand How To Read Point Spread Odds

When looking at a point spread, you’ll see two different numbers. One is the spread itself, and one is the odds. For example:

Plus Minus example

The top number represents the point spread (+3.5 | -3.5), while the bottom number represents the odds (what you stand to win). Both use plus or minus symbols, but the numbers mean two different things regarding the same wager.

Use $100 as Your Baseline for Calculating Winnings

When looking at odds to ascertain what you would win without using a plus minus betting calculator, it’s straightforward if you start by envisioning a $100 bet. Any plus (+) odds indicate the exact amount you’d win on a $100 wager ($100 bet on +360 = $360 potential winnings). Minus (-) odds represent the number you have to bet to win $100 ($360 bet on -360 = $100 winnings).

These numbers can be extrapolated up or down based on what you are actually betting. A $10 bet on +360 odds means a $36 gain, while a $36 bet on -360 odds garners a $10 win, and so on and so forth. Understanding the concept of plus minus odds using $100 as your baseline helps you comprehend the idea, and calculate potential winnings regardless of your bet amount.

Are you looking for MLB alternative lines? Head to BetOnline.

50% Welcome Bonus up to $1,000


50% Welcome Bonus up to $1,000

  • BetOnline odds boosts available every day
  • Live betting available on all major sports
  • Excellent sportsbook 101 tutorial section
5 Stars
Play Now


How do plus and minus odds work?

What does minus +1.5 mean in betting?

What are negative odds?

Is plus or minus more likely to win?

What does +3 mean in a sports bet?

Affiliate Disclosure: Techopedia may receive advertising commissions for visits to a suggested operator through our affiliate links, at no added cost to you. However, all our recommendations are unbiased and follow a thorough review process. Gambling can be addictive, please play responsibly and you must be of legal gambling age.


Jack Garry
US Sports Betting Expert

Jack Garry is a successful daily fantasy sports (DFS) player and writer, providing content on DFS, sports betting, and legal online gambling. He has written for sites like Lines.com, Oddspedia.com, and Casino.org. This has included articles on DFS and betting strategy, regional online gambling news and information, and more.