Since July 2019, New York has had retail sportsbooks up and running. There are no mobile or online options yet, but sports bettors in the Empire State now have a number of places to wager.
A big part of sports betting involves understanding how to read and interpret the odds that sportsbooks offer.
In order to locate current odds at New York’s retail sportsbooks, you physically have to visit the sportsbooks themselves since they are not available online. That said, you can get an idea of what sorts of wagers are out there for any day’s games by checking out current odds at other sportsbooks.
New Jersey has many online sportsbooks up and running, which you can download in NY to compare lines. This page provides an overview of the types of odds you can expect to see.
If you choose a sport in which games are coming up tonight or in the near future, you have a choice of odds to view. The most popular types of bets include:
A moneyline bet is the simplest type of wager, essentially perceived as a “straight up” bet on one side to win.
Let’s say the New York Giants are playing the Dallas Cowboys, and you want to bet on the Giants to win. Place a moneyline bet on the G-men. If they win, you win. If they lose, you lose.
A bet on the point spread isn’t just a wager on who will win. Betting the spread also involves taking into account how many points the favored team is expected to win by when placing your wager.
A point spread bet on the favorite is for that team to win by more points than the spread indicates. Meanwhile, a wager on the underdog is a bet on that team to either win outright or not lose by more points than the spread.
For example, if the Giants are a 4.5-point favorite over Dallas, and you place a bet on them against the spread, New York must win by at least five points for you to win. A wager on Dallas as a 4.5-point underdog means the Cowboys need to lose by no more than four points — or win — for your bet to cash.
A bet on the total, aka an over/under bet, is a wager on the total number of points/runs/goals both teams will score in a contest.
The sportsbook sets a totals line, say in the NYG-DAL contest a line of 47.5 points, and you bet either over or under that total. If you bet the over, the two teams will need to score 48 points or more for you to win. A wager on the under requires a total score of 47 or fewer for a win.
There are many other ways to wager on sports. Some other popular types of bets include:
One of the first questions new sports bettors ask is how sports betting odds work. Specifically, what do those “-185” and “+165” figures mean, and how do they relate to the wagers you place?
Those numbers represent how much a winning bet pays. They also reflect the odds the sportsbook is laying on each team in any given contest. The bigger the favorite, the less you win by betting on them. Meanwhile, the bigger the underdog, the more you can win.
A negative number, such as -185, indicates that side is favored. A positive number, like +165, means an underdog.
If a moneyline bet on the favored Giants pays -125, that means you need to bet $125 in order to win $100. In other words, since New York is the favorite, you win less than double your bet.
On the flip side, a bet on the underdog Cowboys might pay +165. In that case, a bet of $100 on Dallas to win would pay $165, meaning you would more than double your bet.
Notice how even the bets on point spreads and totals have negative and positive numbers listed next to them. In each case, those numbers are telling you what the odds are and how much a winning bet will pay.
You might notice odds changing during the days leading up to an event. The Giants might have been a 4.5-point favorite on Monday, but by Saturday they became only a 3.5-point favorite. The odds might shift as well, altering how much winning bets would pay out.
What causes these changes? There are a few factors.
If you travel to a New York sportsbook (or use your mobile device, eventually), you will inevitably find a long list of betting options for every major sport. Depending on the book, you may also see opportunities for some more esoteric events.
Each option will come with its own odds. Because there are so many of them each day, you may be wondering where the sportsbooks find the time to get all of these listings.
The short answer is that they usually get them from someone else.
Usually, this source is a Las Vegas-based sportsbook. Las Vegas, despite the fact that sports betting is spreading across the country, remains the mecca and authority for sports betting in the US.
No other collection of sportsbooks can offer anything like the same level of experience and expertise. This leads many sportsbooks outside of Las Vegas, including those in New York, to have the same odds as those at one of the venerable sportsbooks in the desert.
As a result, most of the odds that you see in New York are going to be identical to the odds at some Las Vegas-based sportsbook, at least to start with. Any national operator is going to use the same odds across its different properties. If it truly matters to you, you can probably do some internet research or ask the personnel at the sportsbook for the source.
However, it is possible, albeit somewhat rare, that a local sportsbook might create its own odds or tinker with the odds it uses as a source. Whether the changes make the odds “better” or “worse” likely will depend on your perspective.
If the odds’ source is a concern, the best thing to do is ask a sportsbook employee. If you are concerned that odds might be unfair, then contact the New York State Gaming Commission to report the issue. Alternatively, you can just decline to bet.
You may be wondering if any particular sportsbook in New York and, for that matter, Las Vegas has the best odds for players. The short answer is that it depends on the bet, the sportsbook and what you’re wanting.
First of all, if you use only a single sportsbook, then you’ll never know if the odds are favorable to you or not. You must visit multiple sportsbooks and shop lines. In fact, doing so is a rather critical strategy for effectively betting on sports. Online sports betting makes it quite easy, since each book is only a few button presses away.
However, in terms of what you’re shopping, it’s a good idea to have the bet you want to make in mind. Let’s say that you want to bet on the Brooklyn Nets’ moneyline against the Los Angeles Clippers. Here are some of the listings for that game:
Our three options for betting the moneyline on this game are +104 at FanDuel, +102 at DraftKings and +100 at BetMGM. Based upon those numbers, the “best” option is the one at FanDuel, since we stand to win $2 to $4 more for the same $100 compared to the other books.
Incidentally, here is the same listing from FanDuel later in the day:
As you may notice, the moneyline has dropped on the Nets to +100. That means that FanDuel bettors judged the Nets to have a better chance to win than the earlier line suggested.
Now, if we were to shop other bets at these sites, we might find very different results for which site had the best offer. It is absolutely critical to do so, though, and equally important that you keep track of the movement of the odds throughout the day and week.
If the smart bettors are headed one direction, you probably should, too … unless you have a good reason to think otherwise.
By and large, most odds you’ll see will be near one another. In the examples above, for instance, there were only a few dollars of difference between the three operators.
However, you’ll occasionally come across a listing that is radically different from most. In those cases, the most likely reason is that there was some sort of mistake or glitch. Since sportsbooks rely on automation and technology so much these days, it usually boils down to some sort of improper input that the site received from one of the humans behind the scenes.
Now, in those cases, you have to decide what you want to do. A sportsbook that has a published line — even one that is obviously wrong — may or may not be on the hook for it. If you go ahead and place the bet, you may find the bet canceled and refunded to you, rather than a payout for the winnings.
There are some times when the sportsbook does end up taking one on the chin. However, for the most part, the terms and conditions that sportsbooks use give them the right to void bets and not honor wagers on bad-faith odds.
On the other hand, if you can determine that the listing is not an error, then you should set about to investigate if the people running the book are incredibly smart or incredibly stupid. If they see something about a game that no one else sees and have adjusted their lines accordingly, it may be an opportunity for you at their competitors. If they have misinterpreted something, however, then their loss might be your gain.
In general, the most important thing about odds is that you’re able to understand their implications. It is much less important — and less fun — to attempt to create your own set of odds or understand the exact math behind a sportsbook’s algorithm.
What is usually more effective is to monitor the movement of the odds. While the odds themselves are computer-generated these days, the direction that they change is still human-directed.
So, even if your command of mathematics and statistics is rudimentary, you can still use the odds effectively with your sports betting. Shop the lines, follow the crowd, or look for reasons to bet against the smart money.
At the end of the day, making a little money is better than losing a lot of it. If you are a serious and/or professional sports bettor, then you’ll need to have a far deeper understanding of the odds than we’ve described here. Of course, if you are in that category, you probably didn’t need to read this page.
For an underdog, divide the number by 100 to get fractional odds. For example, if a bet is +400, that’s 400/100 or 4/1 odds. When betting on a favorite, divide 100 by the absolute value of the number to get the fractional odds. So, if a bet is -300, that’s 100/300 or 1/3 odds.
Sportsbooks employ oddsmakers who set lines and create odds, often aided by tried and true algorithms and software. That said, once bettors start placing bets, that also can change the odds right up until a game begins.
Sportsbooks endeavor to create odds that will generate an equal amount of action on either side of a bet. If bets are “balanced” on both sides, the sportsbook guarantees itself a profit thanks to the “vig” or “juice” it takes from each bet placed. That means the odds don’t always perfectly reflect the probability of a certain outcome. Rather the odds are determined in response to how the sportsbooks think the betting will go.
You must visit New York sportsbooks in person in order to find out what betting odds they are offering on a given contest. You cannot phone the sportsbooks to ask, as the Wire Act prohibits sportsbooks from using such means to disseminate sports betting information.