US Betting Odds Explained

For Advanced

When talking about sports betting, odds is one of the terms that immediately pops up. It’s one of the dominant factors that determine your success as a sports bettor as it can tell you a lot about the outcome of a game. Today, we will explain odds, what they are, where you should use them, and what they can do for you.

What are betting odds?

The most straightforward explanation is the literal translation of the word. Odds equal chances. It shows you the chance of winning the bet you are about to make. Now, odds come in many forms, and in different regions of the world, there are different ways of displaying the odds. There are fractional (British) odds, decimal (European) odds, and American (moneyline) odds. Since we are focused on sports betting, we will focus solely on the American (moneyline) odds after describing the other options briefly.


What are fractional odds?

Dating back to the traditional horse track races in Great Britain, the fractional odds are still very popular with British and Irish bookies. The fractional odds are commonly written with a slash (/) or a hyphen (-), for example, 5/1 or 5-1. For every dollar you wager, you win 5 dollars in addition to your already wagered dollar. Another example would be;

  • Odds = 4/1 or 4-1
  • Stake = $20
  • Return = $100 ($80 profit + $20 stake)

In practice it would look like this when searching for bets, in this case, the team winning this year’s Champions League;

  • Real Madrid - 9/11
  • Manchester United - 7/4
  • Atlético de Madrid - 21/1

Calculate winnings using fractional odds

The moment you are using fractional odds as your preferred type of odds, you can use the following examples to calculate your earnings when winning a bet;

  • 12/1 – every $1 you bet means you will get $12 plus your original stake = $13
  • 5/1 – every $1 you bet means you will get $5 plus your original stake = $6
  • 1/1 – every $1 you bet means you will get $1 plus your original stake = $2
  • 2/4 – every $4 you bet means you will get $2 plus your original stake = $5

What are decimal odds?

Sports Odds (soccer) and outcome probabilities

Decimal odds are the most accessible odds to grasp, spotting the favored team is quickly done by using this method. Sports bettors from Europe, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia mainly use decimal odds. In this case, the odds include your stake, in comparison to other options that require some quick math. The decimal odds stand for every dollar that you wager. To put this into a formula; ; 

  • Stake x Decimal odd number = Total return

To provide an example we’ve chosen the team to win the NBA Championship for this season;

  • Los Angeles Lakers - 5.78
  • Houston Rockets - 6.89
  • Golden State Warriors - 11.69

Calculate winnings using Decimal odds

With the following formula, you can calculate your winnings.

  • (odds x stake) – stake = Profit

Using a couple of examples, you can understand how to calculate your possible earnings. In this example we use a $10 stake;

  • Los Angeles Lakers - 5.78 = (5.78 x $10) - $10 stake = $57.80 - $10 = $47.80 profit
  • Houston Rockets - 6.89 = (6.89 x $10) - $10 stake = $68.90 - $10 = $58.90 profit
  • Golden State Warriors - 11.69 = (11.69 x $10) - $10 stake = $116.90 - $10 = $106.90 profit

What are American odds?

In American sportsbooks, the primarily used odds are the Moneyline odds. A minus sign indicates the favorite team (-), the underdog team, in this case, carries the positive (+) sign. These signs are accompanied by a number that stands for the amount you can win by staking 100 dollars. The amount you receive is in addition to your already wagered bet, meaning you’ll get your initial stake back in case you win. American odds could look like this at a match between the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets

  • Miami Dolphins +235
  • New York Jets -303

Calculate winnings using fractional odds

To find out how much you can earn when using the fractional bets, we will use the previous example. 

  • Miami Dolphins +235
  • New York Jets -303

In this case, the bookmaker favors the New York Jets to win the game as indicated by the minus (-) sign. If the Dolphins won with your initial $100 wager, you would earn $235 (profit) + $100 (initial stake) = $335. When you prefer the Jets, you should bet $303 to win $100. If the jets win, you would win $100 (profit) + $303 (initial stake) = $403. 


The different types of odds

Usually, in American sports betting three primary kinds of odds are offered;

  • Moneyline (Betting on the team that wins the match at the end of the regulated time)
  • Spread (Betting on the difference in points between the teams at the end of the match)
  • Over/Under (Betting on the overall score at the end of the match)

These are different types of bets anyone can place on a specific match. Every sport that has two teams playing a scored match can have all three of these kinds of bets.

How to read betting odds?

To read the betting odds, we take the American odds. There is a clear distinction between the favorite and the underdog. There are a couple of rules to live by;

  • The team set to win by the bookmaker carries the minus (-) sign
  • The team set to loose by the bookmaker carries the positive (+) sign
  • The bigger the difference between the two odds, the higher the probability that the favorite team wins
  • The closer both odds are to 100, the tighter the match, In such cases there is no  clear favorite.

How to use betting odds?

When you are searching for a good match to put your money on the line and make a bet, you have to start doing your research. You look at the difference between the teams, their past performance, and what their current line-up looks like. Another thing you can do is look at the odds. When you see the bookmakers have a clear favorite team, there might be something going on that you are not aware of. There might be an essential player that is injured that you are not aware of, but the bookmakers are. The odds tell you the favorite team, the team that is most likely to win! Use this to your advantage! 

Making the most of comparing bettings odds

When you understand the concept of betting odds, you will start to notice that every single sportsbook offers slightly different odds. Algorithms or professional bookmakers create the betting odds based on various factors. It’s essential as a sports bettor to stay on top of these odds and spot the sportsbook that offers the best odds available. You should understand one thing; if many people are betting on one outcome of the match, bookmakers will change the odds to steer bettors towards the other outcome. Having a good understanding of odds and how bookmakers might change them is extremely important in your sports betting career.

Sports betting winner

To conclude, learn your odds!

In sports betting, it is crucial to be aware of betting odds. It’s an essential part of the entire process, and it can give you more information than you might think. When doing your research about the probability of one team winning over the other, the odds can tell you a lot about the opinion of the bookmakers. If you get the hang of reading odds, you will understand the probability of events happening better. Thus, you will eventually become more successful as a sports bettor.

Betting Odds FAQ

  • What are betting odds?

    Betting odds are a way for the bookmakers to display the probability of a team winning.
  • What can betting odds do for me?

    With the help of betting odds, you can see which team is in favor of winning the match as judged by the bookmakers, and you can use it as a way to calculate your profits of a successful bet.
  • What kind of betting odds should I use?

    The American betting odds are relatively simply to master and can be great fun, we highly recommend starting off with those!
  • What is a push?

    In the likelihood of two evenly matched teams going head to head, the possibility of a tie/draw is very high. This is what constitutes a push. You are less likely to meet with a push when using the Moneyline format. It is most common with decimal odds, and it's something you can bet on. In the event that a tie occurs, you will get your stake back.
  • What information is used to calculate odds?

    Bookmakers look at two main things when putting out their odds. These are 1) the probability of the outcome and 2) how many people are betting on each bet. Bookmakers have to adjust their odds according to how many people bet on each bet in order to balance their books.
  • Why do different platforms have different odds?

    With the countless online betting platforms in the market, you will often hear some bettors preferring one platform over the other. The reason they give is usually along the lines of “This site has better odds.” That said, how do bookies arrive at odds such as +130, 1.5, or 3/7? The simple answer is most platforms have their own team of expert risk analysts, odd compilers, and traders who come up with the figures. They mostly assess the different variables for all sporting events such as the player’s form, injuries, influence by fans, and many more.
  • Will online sportsbooks provide me with all the forms of odds?

    Yes, online sportsbooks will give you the option to select different odds. They have all 3 types so you can select your favorite one.
  • Will I get a bigger payout if I use a different form of odds?

    Your payout will be the same for all the odds. This is because the probability of the team winning or losing will be the same across the board.
  • What are the enhanced odds?

    There are odds that have been bumped up to give a better payout. Sportsbooks will do this to bring in new players and get old players to stake on more games. Some online sportsbooks will increase the final payout as much as 20% on some occasions.
  • Are odds the same at all online sportsbooks?

    No, they will be different at all the online sportsbooks. The online sportsbooks will make their odds depending on what they think the outcome of the match will be. Online sportsbooks will have different opinions on the probability of a team winning and so the odds won’t be the same.