What Is A Favorite? Sports Betting Terms Explained

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In sports betting, a “favorite” refers to the team, participant, or outcome in an event that is considered most likely to win. It is the side of the wager that is favored by sportsbooks due to various factors, including perceived skill, past performance, and other relevant data. They are the counterpart to underdogs, which are the teams or participants considered less likely to win.

How Favorites Work In Sports Betting

To better understand this concept, let’s explore their key features:

  1. Lower Odds: Favorites are assigned lower odds by sportsbooks, indicating a higher probability of winning. These odds reflect the sportsbook’s assessment of their chances of success.
  2. Point Spreads: In some sports, such as football and basketball, favorites are often associated with point spreads. They are required to win by a margin greater than the spread for a bet on them to be successful.
  3. Moneyline: In other sports, like baseball and hockey, they’re typically represented by negative moneyline odds. Bettors must risk a larger amount to win a smaller profit when betting on favorites with negative moneyline odds.
  4. Popular Bets: Favorites are often the preferred choice for casual bettors due to their perceived likelihood of winning. However, betting using this strategy may result in smaller potential profits.

Significance of Favorites for Sports Bettors

Favorites hold significant importance for sports bettors for several reasons:

  1. Winning Probability: Betting on favorites generally offers a higher probability of winning compared to underdogs. It is a common strategy for bettors seeking a higher likelihood of success.
  2. Lower Potential Payouts: While favorites are more likely to win, their lower odds or moneyline values mean that bettors may receive smaller payouts compared to successful bets on underdogs.
  3. Bankroll Management: Bettors must consider their risk tolerance and betting strategy when choosing to bet on the favored team or player. It’s essential not to overextend one’s bankroll on favorites, as losses can quickly add up.
  4. Market Insights: Understanding which team or participant is favored can provide valuable insights into the sportsbook’s assessment of the event’s outcome. This information can be used for research and analysis.

Here’s an example using the Golden State Warriors and the Phoenix Suns. The Warriors are favored to win here and you can see this with their negative odds on both FanDuel and DraftKings below.

example of a betting favorite on FanDuel Betting favorite example on DraftKings

Using This To Better Understand Sports Betting

Understanding how to separate favorites from underdogs is a fundamental aspect of betting on sports. It is important to learn about this concept before placing any bets. Many things are taken into consideration when oddsmakers are determining the betting favorite of any given events. It can be helpful to stay up to date with things like a teams win/loss record, recent player injuries, and perceived skill when choosing whether to bet on a favorite or an underdog. Remember to bet responsibly and only within your means.

What is a Favorite? FAQ

What does it mean if a team is a favorite?

If a team is labeled as a favorite, this means that they are most likely to win their next event for various reasons, and their betting odds to do so reflect this.

How do you tell if a team is a favorite?

When betting on a sporting event, if one team has lower odds than the other, this would be considered the favorite.

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Eamonn KeenanEamonn Keenan
Eamonn Keenan, with a Digital Arts Degree from the University of Tampa, brings over a decade of sports betting experience to his role as Creative Director at BettingHero.com. Starting with Betting Hero in the Fall of 2020, Eamonn has been deeply involved in the industry, assisting customers with major sportsbook and casino operators like BetMGM, Caesars, DraftKings, and others. A self-proclaimed sports fanatic, he has a keen interest in professional hockey, MMA, NFL, NCAAB, NCAAF, and MLB. Eamonn enjoys researching teams and players to predict game outcomes, highlighting his passion for sports betting.