How Do Arizona Betting Odds Work?
Let's start by offering a clearer definition of a word we've already been tossing around: odds. To now, we've been using odds as a catch-all that encompasses all the terms of a given bet. Odds are a stand-in for price; it's any number the online site can set and move to incentivize the market to bet one way or another.
In its narrower definition, odds specifically refers to the amount the bettor profits on a winning wager. In fact, it's a ratio that defines how much you'll win per dollar wagered. For example, 5-to-1 odds (American odds it would be +500) says your $5 wager nets you $25 in profit.
Many bets have additional numeric components beyond the reward/risk ratio. For example, if the real-world result must beat a certain stat or overcome a handicap of some kind, your bet will include a basis number. These are most commonly expressed as spreads and totals. These basis numbers usually refer to a game's score (points, runs or goals depending on the sport), but might apply to other measurable statistics or outcomes from the game or match that you're betting on.
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How to Read Betting Odds in Arizona
The best way to learn how to read betting odds is to look at a typical event listing that you might see at an Arizona betting site for sports.
Cowboys 47.5 +180
Cardinals -4 -220
The numbers immediately to the right of the team names are the basis numbers for this game; that is, the point spread and total. The favorite's point spread is always a negative number (in this case the Cardinals are favored by 4 points). The positive number next to the Cowboys (47.5) is the total for this game.
Point Spread and Total Math
A point spread is essentially the sportsbook leveling the playing field in exchange for offering equal odds on the favorite and the underdog. The spread is a handicap added to the final margin of victory in order to determine the winner of a bet. If you bet on the Cardinals' point spread (that is, you bet "Cardinals minus 4") the outcome of the bet is determined by taking the Cards' final margin and deducting 4 points. If they have more points than the Cowboys despite that handicap, Arizona bets win.
The point spread bet works the other way for underdogs. Cowboys bettors get 4 points added to the final game margin. So, a spread bet on the Cowboys could win even if the Cowboys lose on the playing field.
By the way, if the point spread and the final game margin are equal, it's a tie, or in betting lingo, a push. When a bet pushes, the site returns all wagers.
Totals are listed for the purpose of Over/Under betting where the combined total score of both teams is what the bet is measured against. In our example, the total for the game is 47.5. If you make an Over bet on this game, the teams must combine for at least 48 points for your bet to win. Betting on the Under means you win if the two teams score 47 or less.
How much do you win for the point spread and Over/Under bets? These are even money bets ... almost. The standard betting odds for these bets is 10-to-11. That is, you win $10 for every $11 wagered. In terms of fractional odds, this might be called an 11/10 bet, but in American odds, they're known as -110 bets. That number -110 is an expression of betting odds as a moneyline.
Moneyline is another overloaded term in betting parlance. In simple terms, betting a moneyline is another way to describe the ratio of reward and risk, just like fractional odds such as 10-to-1 or 5-to-2 is. The difference is that moneylines use the number 100 as their baseline. Expressing Arizona sports betting odds as a moneyline is peculiar to American sportsbooks. In most other parts of the world, they use a format called decimal odds.
A moneyline with a minus sign in front means the profit from your bet will be less than the amount you risk. In the previous section, we described the standard point spread and total betting odds as a-110 moneyline; that means you risk $110 to win $100. So, when you win, you are owed $210 total (your initial stake of $110 plus $100 in profit).
A positive is the inverse of the negative. Instead of showing the amount you must wager to win $100, a positive moneyline shows the amount you win for every $100 you risk. For example, a +175 bet on the Phoenix Suns to beat the Los Angeles Lakers means you net $175 for every $100 you risk. The bigger the positive, the bigger the longshot.
The final element of the Cowboys/Cardinals sports odds listing above is the numbers on the far right. You can bet on either team without point spread handicap by placing a moneyline bet. That means you're betting on these teams to win 'straight up.' As the favorite, the Cardinals show up with a negative, in this case -220. If you place a moneyline wager on the Cardinals, your bet wins if they win on the field, regardless of the game margin.
Other Kinds of Bets
Moneyline betting is the most common way to bet on NHL or MLB teams. Instead of the fluctuating point spread that you'll see in the other major sports leagues, bookmakers will also offer bets with a standard handicap of 1.5 runs (baseball) and 1.5 goals (hockey). These bets are called, respectively, the run line and the puck line, and in each case the team you bet on must win by 2 or more scores.
Run line and puck line odds are more favorable compared to moneyline betting odds in Arizona. For example, if the Coyotes are favored against the Stars with moneyline odds of -190, the bookmaker will also offer a puck line bet with a handicap of 1.5 goals ... but at improved odds of +150. You can also bet a "reverse puck line" or "reverse run line" where you get the runs or goals in exchange for worse odds.
Parlay and Teaser Betting
Multi-way sports bets are more popular than ever. When you tie multiple bets into one, they're called parlay bets or parlay wagers. Bettors can find their favorite two, three or 10 wagers - across different leagues and start times - and connect them into a single parlay bet. The more bets you tie together, the higher the payout. The upside? There's potential for big payouts. For example, a 3-leg parlay pays 6-to-1 or +600 in American odds. The downside? If a single leg of the bet loses, your parlay bet is toast.
If you combined three points spread bets at an NFL betting site into a teaser, it's like parlay bets in that all legs have to hit for your bet to win. The difference is the 6-point adjustment to the basis number in your favor for each game. So, if you put Cardinals -4 into a teaser, that leg of the teaser bet becomes Cardinals +2. The catch, as you might suspect, is in the payout odds. Where parlay wagers of three NFL bets would pay you +600, the same plays combined into a teaser would only pay off +180.
Live (In-Game) Betting
The most popular operators like the Arizona FanDuel betting app, will allow bettors to place what are known as live sports bets in Arizona during a game in progress. Based on what's happening on the field of play, an operator updates the point spread, moneyline and total for the game in real-time. Some apps have very sophisticated play-by-play betting as well, where the bettor can wager on the result of an upcoming at-bat or play from scrimmage.
If you like to go beyond who's going to win and by how much when you bet on sports, you might like betting on game and player propositions, or prop bets. Online operators can put hundreds of individual propositions for each game into their app. Prop bets in Arizona can be on anything from the number of Field Goals in a game, to whether Kyler Murray will score a 2-point conversion against the Cowboys or whether the Suns will be the first team to reach 100 points in a game against the New York Knicks.
If you think you know who's going to win the next Super Bowl, or whether the Suns will make the NBA Finals next year, consider making a futures bet. These are bets with outcomes that may not be resolved until the end of this season (or the next). If you don't mind having your money tied up in long-time horizon wagers, futures bets can be quite profitable. You might see a Futures Bet on a menu as a list of moneyline bets with favorites listed first and the longest longshot last:
NFL 2021 Season - NFC West Champ
- Cardinals -120
- 49ers +250
- Seahawks +400
- Rams +700
Arizona Sports Betting Odds Explained
The Arizona betting odds for a sports bet are tied to the likelihood of that bet winning. Operators "reward" bettors for making riskier bets by offering higher payouts. In a game between Arizona State and Yuma Community College, the sportsbook isn't going to reward Sun Devils backers very much since they're so likely to win. But a bet on YCC will pay off handsomely in the unlikely event they win. Let's go through some other aspects of sports betting odds.
Why Do Arizona Sports Betting Lines Change?
Bookmakers adjust the sports betting odds in Arizona on their betting menu constantly during the lead up to the event itself. Why? Remember, they're trying to lure bettors to make wagers, and they want to make sure they aren't taking on too much risk by getting too much action on one side. Sometimes odds shift based on the latest sports news in Arizona and the U.S. as a whole. But just as often it's because more money is coming on one side of the bet.
To compensate, a bookmaker, such as BetMGM Sportsbook Arizona might adjust the payout odds or the basis numbers to make one side of the bet more attractive to bettors. Unlike betting on horses and other pari-mutuel events, when you place a sports bet, the Arizona betting odds are frozen into place for you at the time of the bet.
What Sports Can I Bet On?
Many states the have authorized online wagering have placed limitations on bettors that prevent them from placing bets on local college teams, or on proposition bets on individual college players. The Arizona regulations will allow for betting on state schools but ban prop bets.
Besides that, Arizona bettors will be able to wager on just about every major sport under the desert sun in offering a vast menu of bets for individual and minor sports like golf, tennis, fighting sports/UFC, auto racing and more. Bookmakers are getting more innovative every day in offering a creative array of bets, like player-versus-player best score bets in golf tournaments, or total game over/under bets in a tennis match.
Why Are Betting Odds in Arizona Important?
If you're new to wagering online or from a mobile device, you might imagine that winning consistently is just a matter of picking more winners than losers. That's true, but it's just as important to find the best price (or odds).
Just like football is a game of inches, winning sports betting is a game of pennies and half-pennies. To be profitable at standard -110 odds means you must pick winners at a rate of 52.4%. Betting games at a slight advantage (e.g., -105) lowers the break-even win rate to 51.2%. When you consider the best sports bettors win 56% or 57% of their bets, you realize how important finding the best sports betting odds in Arizona can be, and how the act of comparing odds can make the difference between success and failure.
Because Arizonans will have access to multiple sites, they'll be at a particular advantage. They can quickly scan the apps they have accounts with to find the very best odds for a game they're interested in.
Arizona Betting Odds FAQ
There is profit to be made at both ends of the moneyline, including longshots and negative odds favorites. When you bet a heavy favorite, like a -500 moneyline, you're risking lots of money for a small potential payout. This is a situation where it's great to make a winning bet, but if you're betting into negative odds too often, you need to win enough to cover your occasional (very painful) loss.
Every operator either subscribes to an odds service or has an in-house group of experts who set and adjust their odds. Most of the tribal casinos in Arizona will partner with an experienced international company (like William Hill or BetMGM Arizona) or a US company such as BetRivers Arizona, who will handle all their bookmaking operations for customers who prefer betting online.
Outside of America, online bookmakers often use decimal odds to express the ratio of risk to reward. In some ways, decimal odds are the simplest odds format because it shows you how much money the bookmaker owes you in total for a winning bet, including the original wager.
For example, decimal odds of 2.00 implies a simple double-up bet, where a bookmaker would issue a total payout of $20 for a winning $10 wager ($10 in profit plus the $10 initial bet). Odds of 1.41 would mean the bookmaker owes you 1.41 times your initial wager, inclusive of your initial stake. So a $10 bet would get paid off as $14.10 (your initial $10 stake plus $4.10 in winnings). In decimal odds, favorites are shown as a number between 1 and 2, and underdogs are shown as a number above 2.
Unlike Arizona casino games, there isn't much differentiation between different sports when it comes to which one has the most advantageous odds for the sports bettor. Many people say the best opportunities in sports betting come from prop betting, where it's possible for a bettor to make more accurate predictions about specific in-game events. Others look to lesser-known sports, like the WNBA. And still, others say that college basketball, with its 350+teams, offers the opportunity to bettors who track the more obscure leagues to find the most value among an array of wager types.
If you're worried that a Arizona sportsbook app or site won't compare well to Vegas lines, rest assured, Arizona sports bettors will have plenty of opportunities to find great prices on games on all sorts of bet types. Partnerships with multi-national companies like William Hill, DraftKings, etc. means Arizona odds will look largely the same as they do elsewhere. Additionally, the structure of betting markets creates an incentive to hew close to the most common odds listed elsewhere in the marketplace. Operators that stray too far from the norm are taking on the unnecessary risk of loss. For all these reasons, Arizonans should see competitive odds on all major sporting events
Swain Scheps is an Oregon-based writer, author and data & analytics professional who contributes to BetArizona.com on a variety of topics. He is a multi-decade sports betting aficionado whose most recent book is Sports Betting for Dummies (Wiley, 2020), a book full of wisdom for squares, sharps and everyone in between. He takes solemn pride in being a 60% sports bettor (as long everyone pretends his life began on Nov. 8, 2020 and ended on Dec. 5, 2020. In addition to gambling topics, he has written on technology, business, travel, and more. He holds degrees from the University of Texas and the University of Houston in Economics, Finance and Sports Heartbreak.