How To Read Odds


For many people, placing bets on sports events is a relatively straightforward affair. However, if you are new to the world of sports betting, you may not be overly familiar with how to read sports odds. Moreover, if you are used to one type of odds format, and want to place bets using another, it pays to know how this is done. This brief guide will introduce you to the three main types of sports betting odds around and shows you how they work.

The Three Types of Odds

Pop into any online sportsbook, and you will likely find three different types of odds you can choose from. They are known as American, Decimal and Fractional odds. Each displays their odds in a certain way and are calculated differently. One odds format may be more prevalent in one country over another or may be ideally suited for a specific sport. Here is a brief breakdown of those odds:

American: Most commonly found at American offshore sportsbooks and heavily used when wagering on American sports, these odds are typically showcased as a three-digit number with either +/- in front of that digit. Baseball, basketball, American football, and ice hockey frequently use these types of odds.

Decimal: The most common type of odds and found globally. These odds are displayed as decimals, such as “2.40”. They tell you the exact prize you can win when you wager a single unit on an outcome. Decimal odds are amongst the easiest to understand and are ideal for newbies.

Fractional: Fractional odds are popular with UK bookmakers. They are also frequently used for horse racing events. Odds such as 5/1 or 9/5 are good examples of fractional odds. The first number in fractional odds is the amount you can win, while the second number in the fraction is the amount you need to wager to win that first figure.

All types of odds typically display the probability of an outcome happening. They also showcase how much can be won if you were to bet successfully on one outcome over another. Each sportsbook will likely manipulate the odds to their own benefit, so it is worth looking at how odds are calculated. By doing so, you should be able to find the ideal odds by comparing the odds offered at several online bookies.

American Odds: Understanding the Plusses and Minuses

American odds are the trickiest to understand. A positive (+) number indicates a bet on an underdog, and the number displayed is what you can win should you bet $100 on the outcome. By contrast, the negative (-) number indicates a bet on the favourite. It showcases how much you would need to bet to win $100 in profit.

Example:
Team A -130
Team B +150

Team A is set to take on Team B in a match. Team A has odds of -130 making them the favourite, while Team B has odds of +150; thus, they are the underdog. A player betting on Team A could win $100 if they were to bet $130. A player betting on Team B would need to wager $100 to win $150.

Decimal Odds: Europe’s Preferred Odds Format

Decimal odds are far more straightforward to grasp than American odds, which could partially be the reason why they are so popular across the globe. Decimal odds are never shown as negative numbers and are always positive. The figure shown with decimal odds is precisely what a player will win, should they wager a single unit of currency on the outcome displayed.

Example:
Team A 1.20
Team B 2.40
Draw 1.80

Team A and Team B are once again going head to head. Team A has odds of 1.20 to win, while Team B has odds of 2.40 to win. A draw between the two teams is valued at 1.80. Team A is clearly the favourite, while Team B is the underdog. If you were to bet €1 on Team A winning and they did, you’d end up winning €1.20, as well as your original bet back. If you were to increase that bet to €5, you’d end up winning €6 (€5x 1.20) plus your original stake.

Fractional Odds: A UK Favourite

Fractional odds frequently appear in horse racing markets, and are hugely prevalent in the United Kingdom, for all sorts of events. They are a little trickier to wrap your head around, but still easier than American odds. The number on the left of the fraction is what you can win if you bet the number on the right of the figure.

Example:
Team A 8/12
Team B 5/1
Draw 8/2

Once more, Team A and Team B are pitted against one another. If you fancied having a punt on Team A to win, you’d be presented with odds of 8/12. This means that you would need to bet £12 for your bet to yield £8 in winnings. This doesn’t look very profitable, but you must remember that if you win, you’ll get your stake back. By contrast, if you were to bet on Team B to win at 5/1, you’d only need to bet a single £1 to win £5. However, since Team B is the underdog, the probability of that bet coming off is not as high as a wager on Team A.

Which Odds Are Ideal for Me?

Bettors who are new to having a punt on sports betting should almost certainly use decimal odds. They are far easier to understand than the other two odds formats and require little to no effort to calculate. Just multiply the decimal odds by the number of currency units you are betting to get your total prize haul.

While a UK bookie may not offer American odds or an American one may not provide fractional odds, almost all carry decimal odds for their members. As a result, they frequently appear at all the most prominent online sportsbooks and betting sites across the globe. Punters don’t need a degree in mathematics to use decimal odds, which allows them to focus solely on picking a winner.

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