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What is a Betting Favorite?

by February 17, 2022
NFL Preseason Week 1

Unless a game is lined at even odds, there is a favorite and underdog for every game or event. The favorite is the team or player that is expected to win, and in betting on that team, the payout will be less than if you bet on the underdog.

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When betting moneylines, American odds will show the favorite with a minus in front of the number. For example, the Rams were -200 on the moneyline for Super Bowl LVI. That means the sportsbook, and bettors, are expecting the Rams to win the game. The higher the probability of the favorite to win, the higher the moneyline odds get. If a team is expected to win the game about 55% of the time, the sportsbook will set their line at around -120. If a team is expected to win 75% of the time, those odds will rise to somewhere in the -300 range. The higher the probability of the favorite winning, the higher the odds, and the lower the payout.

Point Spread

Point spreads are similar to moneylines, but instead of betting on the outright winner of the game, you bet against the spread. Different sports have different point spreads such as hockey games usually being lined at 1.5 goals or football games lined anywhere from one point to dozens of points. In point spread betting, the line is set at what the sportsbook/bettors expect the favorite to win by. So now instead of just laying a ton of money down on Alabama to beat New Mexico State, you can bet on them to win by 55 points at much lower odds. Let’s go back to that Rams Super Bowl example. The Rams were 4.5 point favorites heading into Super Bowl LVI. That means bettors expected them to win by about 4.5 points. So you can either bet the Rams on the moneyline at -200 or odds, or you can bet them to win by at least 4.5 points at around -110 odds. In this case, it was better to lay the odds on the moneyline as the Rams won the game as favorites, but failed to cover the spread, winning by just three points.

Multiway Market

Multiway markets are markets with more than two options. Super Bowl champion or NBA Finals winner are examples of this type of market. While favorites in two-way markets are lined at minus odds, multiway markets are different. While some multiway markets still have the favorite lined at minus odds, most do not. For example, in an NFL MVP award market, let’s say Aaron Rodgers has a 70% chance, Tom Brady has a 25% chance, and Cooper Kupp has a 5% chance to win. Rodgers is the favorite and will be listed at around -300, Brady will be around +250, and Kupp will be something like +2000. Before the NFL season started, MVP odds looked much different. Patrick Mahomes was the favorite, but he was listed at just +500 odds. That implies about a 17% chance of Mahomes winning the award.  So in multiway markets, there is still a favorite, but that doesn’t mean they have a good chance of winning.

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