Betting Guides
December 7, 2021

How to Read, Calculate Sports Odds

Do you have what it takes to become a profitable sports bettor? One of the requirements for success is a keen understanding of odds and how they apply to make winning sports wagers online. You must know how to read and calculate sports odds before you can overcome the sportsbooks.

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Understanding odds in sports betting will help you judge the value of a bet. With a little study, you can master the art of interpreting sports odds in a short time. This will give you a vast edge in your sports betting.

The Three Types of Sports Odds You Will Encounter

It is common for live and online sportsbooks to display their betting odds in one of three types. These are American, decimal, and fractional odds. All types have two primary goals:

  • Odds establish the implied probability of a sporting event
  • Odds dictate how much a bettor can win with their wager

Learning how to read the odds on a certain sporting event will also allow you to determine how much juice or vigorish you will pay the bookie for your bet. Yes, sportsbooks win or lose no matter which side of the bet you take. This is how they survive.

Understanding American Odds in Online Sports Betting

One of the most common sports betting odds formats you will encounter is known as American odds. The defining attribute of American odds is the presence of a three-digit number with a (+) or (-) sign in front of it.

Here are some examples: -150, +210. In most sporting events that involve two betting interests, you will see one interest with a positive sign and one with a negative. This will tell you which team or individual is favored to win.

A negative number means that a betting interest is the favorite. A positive number means that the betting interest is the underdog.

When you see a negative number such as the -150 we mentioned above, this means that you will need to bet $150 in order to win $100. You will be receiving less than even money when you are betting on the favorite.

When you bet $100 on the +210 underdog, your bet will return $310. This is a profit of $210.

There will be times when you will encounter a negative number on both sides of a bet. This is usually seen when making point spread bets.

How to Calculate Your Winnings With American Odds

You are likely much less intimidated now by the sports odds that you see at your favorite online sportsbook. You can take things even farther by using a very simple formula to calculate your winnings based on any size bet that you make.

You simply cross multiply the amount of your wager with the odds you are receiving. If you are betting $40 and the favorite is offered at -130, your return (x) is equal to 4000/130, or $30.77. You would receive a total of $70.77 which includes your original wager.

The Simplicity of Decimal Odds

Another type of odds that you may encounter at some online sportsbooks is decimal odds. Many sports bettors consider these to be more straightforward and easier to understand.

The odds of this type will be displayed in a simple decimal format: 2.10, 1.65, 2.82.

Calculating your winnings when dealing with decimal odds is much easier for the bettor and involves a very simple formula:

(Wager x Decimal Odds) - Wager

So, if you wagered a sum of $100 on a team offered at odds of 2.10, you would calculate the winnings this way:

($100 x 2.10) - $100 = $110

In just a matter of moments, you can determine your potential winnings with the decimal system of odds. Sportsbooks love this method because it can be more precise.

What About Fractional Odds?

There may be times when you encounter fractional odds in online sports betting. These odds are commonly displayed as:

  • 9/5
  • 3/2
  • 4/1

Do these look familiar? They probably will if you are used to betting horses online. In horse racing betting these fractional odds have always been the standard. They are less often used with other forms of sports betting. They are the least common odds type that you will encounter.

Without going into too much detail where fractional odds are concerned, they do offer an easy way to determine implied volatility. When you look at the odds, the number to the left indicates how many times the online sportsbook expects an outcome to fail. The number to the right is the number of times the outcome is expected to succeed.

Therefore, an event listed at 4-1 assumes that a failed outcome would be the result four times out of five. This determines how much you are going to be paid for your wager.

Understanding Sports Betting Odds and Value

When you are able to comprehend the meaning of sports betting odds you are able to assess and choose betting opportunities that offer the most value.

Value is a key concept in betting. It refers to the money you are getting in return for your betting dollar. The most successful online sports bettors are those who can choose the most valuable opportunities.

When you know how to understand sports betting odds you will be able to identify teams that are undervalued. This means that they offer a chance at a larger reward for less risk. There is a big difference between an underdog and an undervalued team.

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Always strive to get the best odds for the sporting wagers that you make. You now have the information that you need to choose sports bets that are more informed. Remember, you can shop different online sportsbooks to find the best odds.