What is a Favorite in Sports Betting? What Does Favorite mean in Betting?

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What is a Favorite in Sports Betting?

In sports betting the team that oddsmakers expect to win is deemed the favorite. As opposed to the expected loser, the underdog, the favorite winning is the most likely outcome based on the implied probabilities associated with the odds. To be clear, that doesn’t mean you will win money betting exclusively favorites. Similar to favorites is also chalk.

Types of Favorites:

In typical sports betting there are spread and moneyline favorites for individual games, but there could also be favorites for futures

For example, the Chiefs are favored by 12.5 points for their Wild Card Weekend home game against the Steelers. That is an example of a point spread favorite, which is typically bet at -110 odds. Moneyline favorites tend to vary more in range. If a bettor was to place a bet on the Chiefs moneyline (-650) to win $100, the risk would have to be $650.

There can also be a favorite just within the point spread itself. For example, the Bucks could be favored by three points over the Suns, but the line is juiced towards the Bucks, priced at -120 while Suns +3 is even money (+100).

The Bucks would also be the favorite on the moneyline in this hypothetical example, likely at around a -150 price.

As an example for a futures favorite, as of January 2022 Manchester City is listed as the favorite at -2500 to win the English Premier League this season. 

How to Tell who the Favorite is:

Sportsbooks indicate who the favorite is by using a minus (-) sign next to the odds on both the spread and the moneyline, in American odds. Here’s an example of how Draftkings lists the odds for Wild Card Weekend. 

As you can see, the Bengals, Bills, Buccaneers, Cowboys, Chiefs, and Rams have minus signs next to their point spread and moneyline, showing they are the favorites. 

Futures make this a little bit confusing. Heading into the playoffs, the Packers are the favorite to win the Super Bowl at +380. Obviously these odds are nowhere near typical favorite odds with the minus sign. Although the Packers may be the most likely out of the individual teams on their own, the Packers are a heavy underdog to the field as a whole.

Favorite Betting Strategies:

Like any other bet, the best strategy for betting favorites is to make sure you get the very best line that you can. This is particularly important in football where certain point differentials (football numbers) are more likely to occur due to scoring in the NFL typically taking place in increments of three and seven. Betting a favorite to cover a spread of -6.5 is a lot better than -7.5 since winning by 7 is a common point differential outcome. While key numbers don’t matter as much in basketball, every point could be crucial. There will be times when you lose a bet by half a point and are kicking yourself for not getting the best number possible.

For moneyline favorites the odds can be too long due to the juice to risk a stake that’s worth a solid return, so one option is to parlay two or more moneyline favorites to reduce your odds. Just remember, to get any return all the legs of the parlay must win.

Should I Bet the Favorite?

Yes, but only if it’s an informed bet and the conditions are right. Blindly betting favorites is one of the worst things to do as a gambler, especially if taking moneylines which can leave you heavily exposed on the stake. Make sure to get the best odds using the free OddsJam odds page , and subscribers can see mathematically profitable favorite bets on the positive expected value betting tool.

How Often do Favorites Win?

The simple answer to this is more often than underdogs on the moneyline, but not enough to make a profit. Since 1985, NFL moneyline favorites have won just about 66.5% of the time. However since some favorites are at juicy odds like -300 or above, the losses lose far more money than the usual wins can return.

Favorites are commonly bet on by casual bettors who think “of course this team is going to win” so they are generally even less profitable than blindly betting underdogs.

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