Sports Betting Odds Explained

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Whether you bet occasionally to relax with your friends, or you enjoy the adrenaline and suspense of betting on a regular basis, you have to understand the math going on behind each bet.


Even though betting odds can seem confusing at first, knowing what chances your selections have of winning is crucial if you want to improve your betting success. We’re going to explain how sports betting works, and help you make better-informed decisions when you want to put money on something.


First, let’s see what betting odds even are:


Betting odds are the chances of events happening, and they’re compiled by bookmakers. There are three main types of betting odds: fractional, decimal, and American. In a nutshell, they represent different numerical formats for the same thing and make no difference in terms of payouts. Event predictions can be given in any of the three types of odds.

Understanding Fractional Odds

Fractional odds (or British odds) are the most commonly used odds, typically written with a slash or a hyphen. For instance, they can be written either as 5/1 or 5-1 and pronounced “five-to-one”. 


That said, if you have “five-to-one” odds of winning, it would mean that you’d get back your stake (for example, $1) and your stake multiplied by the odds as profit (in this case of $5) – $6 in total if you win the bet.


If you have odds aligned as follows – team X: 10/11, team Y: 9/5, and team Z: 6/1 – it’s easy to determine that team X is the favorite, while the remaining teams are thought to be less likely to win the game. On the other hand, these odds mean that betting on one of the other two teams might bring a more financially tempting prize. With good reason – it’s less likely they’ll win. In other words, size up your chances before placing any money!

Understanding Decimal Odds

Decimal, or European odds, are usually easy to understand. Underdogs and favorites can be spotted instantly, just looking at the numbers.


The logic is simple: The odds show every dollar won for every dollar invested, taking into consideration the total payout – stake included. To calculate your potential winnings, just multiply the stake by the odds.


For instance, if we have a bet like this – X: 4.0 and Y: 1.3 – you would get $4 if you bet $1 on X, and $1.3 if you bet on Y. Since the quota for Y is lower, we can deduce that Y is more likely to win.

Understanding American Odds

American odds are, obviously, popular in the United States. The odds for favorites are preceded by a minus sign, showing the amount you need to stake to win $100. Underdog odds will have a plus sign in front of the amount, showing how much every $100 winning stake gets. Don’t worry – whichever team you favor, winning means you get back both the money you bet and the money represented in the odds.


For instance, if we have the odds X: +585 and Y: -760, those who place a $100 bet on X will get $685 in case they guess right, while those who bet on Y will need to bet $760 to win $100, for a total payout of $860.

Wrapping Up

Now that you know how betting odds work, you’ll be able to make more shrewd betting decisions, and possibly even have better luck in your endeavors. However, make sure you practice everything in moderation, like everything in life – and gambling in particular – comes with its own risks. Bonne chance!