What is a Favorite in Sports Betting?

What is a Favorite in Sports Betting?

A favorite in sports betting is a team or an individual who is expected to win a particular event. For instance, the Kansas City Chiefs are a -7 point favorite over the Denver Broncos, so this means that the sportsbetting linemakers expect Chiefs to win by seven points. A favorite can be wagered on the moneyline or spread. In the example above, the Chiefs could be a -210 favorite to win the game in the moneyline market. From the odds, it is logical that a moneyline bet on the favorite is usually easier to win, but it also results in a smaller payout than a spread bet, where the favourite also needs to win by a set number of points. Usually spread bets favourites have odds of -110.

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How Do You Know Who is the Favorite?

The favorite is the team whose odds starts with a minus sign. This is the same for both a spread or moneyline market. 

What Is a Spread Favorite?

The “spread” is the difference between the two teams in a match up in terms of their expected points to be scored in the game. With this market, bettors can wager on how close a game will be, instead of betting on the winner and loser like in the moneyline market. The bigger is the spread, the bigger is the favourite. 

In the example above, the Chiefs are seen as -7 point favourites. This means that in order for a Chiefs bet to payout, they would need to beat their opponents by at least 8 points. If they were to win by 6 or fewer points (or lose) the bet will be lost. If they were to win by exactly 7 points, it would be a push, and money will be refunded. You will see that both spreads are listed in front of a minus number (for instance, -110). This shows the vig (tax) taken by the sportsbook to accept the bet: so regardless of which spread you are choosing, you would have to risk $110 to win $100, or $11 to win $10, etc.

If there isn’t a clear favourite, and sportsbooks believe it will be an even match, the spread would be zero points: this scenario is called a pick’em. 

What Is a Moneyline Favorite?

In moneyline odds can be more distant from even because you are simply wagering on which team will win the game rather than looking at the expected margin of victory. For instance, if you have the Dodgers to win at -270, it means that the Dodgers are the favourite and you would have to wager $270 for a return of $100. In some cases, you might find both teams have a minus sign (for instance, -115 vs -105). In these games, the team with a larger number (-115), will be considered the marginal favorite. 

How Often Do Favorites Win?

If we had a clear answer to this question, there would be lots more rich people out there and fewer or no sportsbooks operating. Although favorites are indeed winning more games than underdogs, it doesn’t mean you will necessarily make more money by consistently backing them. Analysing every situation carefully is particularly critical to determine when to place a bet on a favourite and when backing an underdog. Our experts can help you with this choice every day, so check our predictions page to find out their daily picks on all sports. 

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John Pentin
John was born and raised in London, John has always been in love with American sports. He started to write football articles back in 2006 on his own blog and has also worked for several newspapers. John other passion was betting and has worked as a trader for several top sports book in the UK. As sports trader and has joined leading UK betting tipping site BettingTips4You in 2013 and he is now head of content. He has a great passion for US Sports so hasn't wasted the opportunity to write also for NewJerseySafeBetting, now that online sportsbetting has been legalized in the state.