Looking at the odds board may leave you feeling like there’s no rhyme or reason for how sports betting odds in California are determined, especially if you’re a newcomer to California sports betting.
Sports betting odds refer to the likelihood of a particular outcome of a sporting event. They’re set by oddsmakers employed by legal sports betting sites that determine the likely results and the potential return for winning bets. These oddsmakers, which can be in-house or provided by third-party firms (such as Kambi or BetRadar), rely on statistics, previous outcomes, and trends. After careful collection and analysis of swaths of data by complex algorithms, they come up with betting odds and lines.
Online sports betting isn’t currently allowed in the state, but that might change in the 2024 election.
In this guide, you’ll get all the information you need to make sense of betting odds and put it to good use when sports betting goes live in California.
Where Can I Bet on Sports Online in California?
Sports betting apps in California aren’t legal yet, and their future availability will depend on the referendum’s outcome. In the meantime, your best bet — pun intended — is to use DFS sites, such as Fliff Sportsbook.
Fliff is a social sportsbook that uses a promotional sweepstakes model, which means you don’t need to purchase anything to play. It’s completely free. You can use the app’s Fliff Coins (available in social mode) and place bets on the available betting markets. This mode is just for fun and bragging rights.
On the other hand, you can use Fliff Cash, where you can redeem earnings for cash prizes. You get Fliff Cash when you purchase Fliff Coins and through other promotions, such as social media contests.
What makes Fliff Sportsbook one of the top California DFS sites is the app’s functionality, facilitating navigation and responsiveness, the quality of odds that may one day compete with the best odds at California sportsbooks, and betting markets (including live betting).
On the other hand, the promotions aren’t as enticing as one might expect from a DFS site. Still, you can use our promo code SHARP to receive a 100% match up to $100 Fliff Cash + 2,000,000 Fliff Coins on deposit.
Sports Betting Odds Explained: Types of Sports Bets
Sportsbooks usually release odds well before an event, giving you enough time to make your betting picks. There’s usually a tight schedule for sportsbooks to release odds and lines. For example, matches from the NBA, NHL, and MLB are played daily or at least several times per week, so the odds are released on the eve of these matches.
On the other hand, NFL or college football matches are released a week in advance, so you can expect a lot of line and odds movement during the week. However, that doesn’t mean that in the future, the best odds at California sports betting apps won’t be released on Monday morning.
Next to the names of the two teams or players in a matchup, you’ll find gambling odds for the three most common bet types: moneyline, point spread, and totals (also known as Over/Under betting).
Additionally, bookmakers offer sports odds for parlays, teasers, and many other types of wagers that can involve more selections on a betslip.
When placing a bet on an event in the distant future, such as which team will win the Super Bowl, you’re effectively placing a futures bet. On the other hand, those who don’t want to wait that long for their bets to settle can choose straight bets. It’s an individual wager you place on a match that will be determined either by a moneyline or a point spread.
Moneyline bets are simply bets placed on the potential winner of the match. Let’s say the Golden State Warriors are hosting the Boston Celtics.
- Golden State Warriors: -135
- Boston Celtics: +140
The Warriors are the favorites, so their moneyline will have a minus (-) sign in front of the number like -135, which means you need to wager $135 to win $100. The moneyline on the Celtics is +140, which reads that you stand to win $140 for a $100 bet.
The point spread bet takes the margin of victory into account, and so should you when making your betting predictions. For point spread betting, the actual score of the matchup isn’t important — only the difference between the teams. The betting spread is represented by positive and negative numbers next to the team’s names. For that bet to be a winner, your selected team must cover the spread. Take a look at the following example:
- Los Angeles Rams: -4.5 (-110)
- San Francisco 49ers: +4.5 (-110)
If you back the Rams to win, they must do so by five or more points. On the other hand, if you place a point spread on the 49ers, they need to win it altogether or lose it by 4 or fewer points for the bet to stand. Note that the starting point for spread bets is the odds of -110 on both teams, but those lines may shift to -115 or -105.
Over/Under betting involves placing a bet on the total number of points scored in a game. The bookmakers set a benchmark number for the expected number of points, and it’s your task to predict whether the total number of points will be higher or lower than the estimate. If you bet Over, then you believe the total will be higher. If you bet Under, then you go for the lower. The total frequently ends in a 0.5 decimal to avoid ties. Like point spreads, the odds are usually -110 and indicate the payout.
- Los Angeles Kings vs. Anaheim Ducks
- Over 5.5 (-110)
- Under 5.5 (-110)
A parlay is a wager where two or more selections are found on the same betting slip. Each selection on the betslip is known as a leg. For a parlay wager to be successful, all legs on the slip need to come through, which is why the potential payouts for parlay bets are better than most others. The parlay odds are visible after all selections have been added and calculated as moneyline odds. You can always use the parlay calculator tools to calculate the payout odds and implied probability (the potential winning percentage of each side of the matchup).
Prop or proposition bets are effectively side bets you can place on certain outcomes within the game that aren’t related to the final result. These events ancillary to the result include statistical achievements of an individual player or an entire team, such as whether the quarterback will pass for a given number of yards or whether the game will go into overtime.
The prop bet is an umbrella term for all exotic bets you’ll find in sportsbooks if legal online gambling in California kicks off.
When the Rams dumped blue Gatorade on head coach Sean McVay after winning Super Bowl LVI, they helped all bettors capitalize on the +400 odds offered for the blue Gatorade.
Live In-Game Betting
Live or in-game betting is wagering on the games in progress. It takes place throughout the entire duration of the game, and odds become available upon its start. The odds change after almost every timeout, possession, and play to reflect the action.
As the game continues, the available in-game bets change. You can place live bets for the duration of the entire game but not before. When certain bets have already been settled during the second half (like the first half winner), other bets will replace those no longer available.
How Sports Betting Odds Work
We have already mentioned the odds in sports betting are brought to us by oddsmakers — individuals employed by online sportsbooks to set the lines and odds for each match. They use complex algorithms and a wealth of statistical data that includes previous matchups, current form, historical outcomes, news, and injury updates to determine the odds offered to bettors.
There’s one common denominator for sports and odds: the line. Oddsmakers set the opening lines for each game to show the odds. They always open at a number that’s appealing to everyone, but the lines move based on last-minute injury updates and other factors that can impact the outcome or the action the bookmakers take.
The latter usually takes place after the bookmakers have taken a lot of bets on a particular line. For example, the opening line for the San Francisco 49ers vs. Dallas Cowboys matchup can be +/- 2.5 but after taking a lot of bets at -2.5, the sportsbooks may lower the margin to -/+1.5 to restore the balance.
The sports betting lines differ from sport to sport. Three and seven-point spreads are more common for NFL and college football games as these reflect the more likely scoring values on the field. The point spreads in football and basketball are referred to as puck lines in ice hockey betting and run lines in baseball betting and are usually opened at -/+ 1.5 points.
California state betting odds and lines will become available at sportsbooks once voters decide on their form and no sooner than 2023.
Football betting is the most popular form of wagering in sportsbooks nationwide. Football odds are offered for all preseason, regular season, playoff games, and the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl odds for the next winner are released the moment the current season is finished.
The most common moneyline, totals, and point spread bets dominate the betting outlook, and can be outshined only by NFL props (such as the team to call the first timeout, pass attempts, completions and interceptions, and other prop bets available only in NFL betting).
Many experienced NFL bettors choose to fade the public (bet the opposite of the public opinion), which may favor one side. The public’s opinion and taking a lot of bets on that side will cause the bookmakers to shift the lines. You would do well to stick to their original predictions and possibly get a little extra berth.
There are plenty of NBA betting picks you can make daily, considering the league’s tight schedule. And of course, most days, you can find a California team in the mix, whether you prefer betting on the Lakers, backing the Clippers, gambling on the Kings, or wagering on the Warriors.
In addition to the standard moneyline, over/under, and point spreads, bettors have a selection of exciting props and NBA futures at their disposal. These include betting on the winner of the NBA Finals, conference and division winners, the team’s total wins at the end of the regular season, and individual player awards.
Note that NBA bets are live from tipoff to the end of the game, including overtime. The bets made on the outcome of game segments, such as quarters and halftimes, are settled independently. The NBA championship odds for the following season will be released as soon as the current season ends.
The MLB betting lines are usually offered as moneyline, run line, and run total. Instead of point spreads, there are run lines, which refer to the number of runs the bookies think a team will win by. As a rule of thumb, the lines are set at 1.5 runs at -110 odds.
Inning bets are very popular among bettors since they are settled faster. In addition to betting on the outcome of an inning, you can opt for a five-inning bet, especially if you’re confident in the skills of the starting pitchers.
MLB bettors are usually keen on investing in the futures markets since the World Series odds offer excellent value. Experienced bettors often decide to hedge a futures MLB bet (to make another bet that neutralizes their initial one), leaving them with no net risk exposure. Let’s say you took the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the World Series at preseason +500 odds and they managed to schedule a clash against the Houston Astros. Now, you can bet on the Astros and no matter which team wins, you’ll see a payout.
NHL odds are available all season long. In addition to the standard moneylines, bettors have the puck lines and totals at their disposal. Puck lines are the NHL betting version of the point spread in football. The opening puck lines are set at 1.5.
It’s important to note which NHL betting lines and wagers apply to regulation time and which include overtime or the shootout. For example, no matter how many goals are scored during the shootout, it’ll still count as one goal. Say that after 60 minutes of regulation time and the five-minute overtime, the score in a game between San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings is still one goal each. The shootout ended 3-2, so the final score in the game was 2 to 1 in favor of the Sharks.
Stanley Cup odds are the most sought-after in all futures betting in the NHL, so it’s safe to assume the best betting odds California sportsbooks will offer will be reserved for the Stanley Cup winner.
College Football Betting
Betting on collegiate sports is beyond reach, even in some states with fully regulated sports wagering. Other states may allow college football betting, but not on in-state teams, and definitely no player props (such as Arizona, Colorado, and Indiana).
Regardless, college football is very popular among bettors. Moneyline, point spreads, and totals are bookmakers’ most common college football lines, and bowl game odds are reasonably competitive. You can choose the winner of any bowl game, especially the championship game well before the season starts and take advantage of the best NCAAF odds.
College Basketball Betting
NCAAB lines aren’t available in all states with legalized sports betting due to restrictions on college sports that apply. In states where NCAAB betting is open, you can bet on regular season games as well as March Madness. Spreads, moneylines, totals, parlays, and other NCAA basketball lines are available (including some props like overtime and first half totals).
PGA Golf Odds
Golf betting isn’t a big part of the sports betting industry, but there are PGA odds in online sportsbooks for all four big-time events on the tour. The US Open and Masters are two other championships that are very popular. The spread in golf is three strokes, while the most straightforward bet is the win bet where you try to predict the winner. Individual matchups or head-to-head bets are also enticing, especially in heated rivalries. With those bets, you try to predict the golfer who will finish with a lower score than the other.
NASCAR Cup Series is what most bettors put their money on, such as Daytona 500 or NASCAR All-Star Race. The best NASCAR betting odds are offered for the race winner, as well as lap times, head-to-head matchups, and Top-3/Top-5 seeding. Besides the standard wagers, explore various props, including the manufacturer to win the race, how many drivers will crash, and others.
Soccer is the most popular sport on a global scale, with each country having its own league. We can find many soccer competitions in sportsbooks, including the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A, German Bundesliga, MLS, and the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
MLS betting is picking up steam among bettors, especially LA Galaxy’s fans whose team has managed to attract top talent year after year. After missing out on the 2018 World Cup edition, Team USA is back in business, so you can explore different World Cup odds for futures markets available now.
The English Premier League odds are bound to be among the most competitive odds at California sportsbook apps should they see the light of day, given how popular the competition is worldwide. Besides the standard moneylines, you can find soccer betting odds for novelty markets, such as the three-way betting market where you bet on any of the three possible outcomes in a soccer match instead of the standard two-way moneyline available in other sports.
Boxing betting can be very exciting, considering the multiple weight categories and divisions. With the all-time greats such as Floyd Mayweather and Tyson Fury almost out of the picture, the focus shifts to Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua to provide big bouts. In addition to the standard moneyline bets where you pick the winner or the method of victory, betting on boxing delivers an array of prop bets, such as whether there will be a knockdown, whether there will be a point deduction, and many others.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is an organization that stages fights in mixed martial arts (MMA). There are multiple fight nights under the UFC patronage, each offering appealing MMA odds for markets, such as the outright winner, method of victory, and many proposition bets.
In every UFC fight night, the awards for the knockout of the night or submission of the night are issued, which are some of the prop bets you can consider. In-play betting on UFC is also exciting as you can bet on fights in progress and utilize markets such as the method of victory or round betting, where you choose the number of rounds and the winner.
With the 2023 season set to feature an all-time high of 40 regular season matchups, there will be more WNBA picks to make. The season in the WNBA lasts from April to September, giving you enough time to work out your basketball betting mojo with the NBA and then switch to WNBA. You can place all the usual basketball bets on the Los Angeles Sparks and other teams.
Compared to football or basketball betting, there are few tennis betting opportunities. However, they’re anything but boring. The majority of tennis bets are based on moneylines. Still, there are also some exciting spreads, such as game or set spreads. Futures are very popular for the four Grand Slam competitions and primarily allow you to bet on the winner and capitalize on some great US Open tennis odds.
Sports Betting Odds Calculators
Odds in sports betting may be difficult to calculate manually sometimes, especially if you aren’t an avid fan of math. This is where sports betting odds calculators come into play. They allow you to input the stakes and odds for a particular wager and calculate the potential return if your bet hits.
With the help of moneyline, parlay, and other calculators, you can devise a betting strategy, compare the odds offered by different sportsbooks, and perform other calculations. The calculators will save you a lot of time you’d otherwise spend on complex math. Also, they’ll remove the potential human error, giving you a clear picture when deciding on the California sportsbook with best odds.
What Affects Sports Betting Odds Throughout a Season?
The situations that affect sports and odds the most throughout the season are trades, injuries, head-to-head stats, and the current form, among other things. The betting lines and odds move every time new information pops up but also if the support of the public goes to one side of the bet.
Then, sportsbooks may promote the other side of the wager, shift the lines a bit, and use special bonuses and promotions, which will undoubtedly be as appealing as the best bonuses at California sportsbooks just to level the playing field.
It’s your job to stay in the loop, monitor the line movements, and shop around to discover which sportsbook has the best odds in California.
Best Sports Betting Odds in California FAQs
Betting lines are representations of odds set by the bookmaker to determine the favorite and the underdog of a matchup. The betting lines are also used to handicap a game, which means leveling the playing field to make it more attractive for people to bet on.
It’s available on sports betting apps as well as on sports/odds apps that follow the line movements and the odds offered by top bookies.
To find the best odds online, you must browse the sportsbooks and review their odds for specific games. You can also use some of the sports betting tools to help you rank the betting providers.
Free betting picks are usually available on prediction sites. Note that most of these offer more detailed selections for paying subscribers.
Live betting odds represent the odds for games in progress. These odds constantly change to follow the action on the playing field, so timing is critical with live betting.
The Vegas odds and lines used to take precedence above all others. The lines were set and moved in Vegas. Now, sportsbooks post their own lines and odds.
Still, the oddsmakers of Sin City hold sway in the industry and for the best odds, you need to go to local sportsbooks.
Yes, you can. Sportsbooks now offer bets on off-field occurrences such as the duration of the National Anthem or the results of drafts.