Updated November 22, 2023
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How to Understand Betting Odds – The Ultimate Beginner`s Guide

Betting odds can be quite confusing for newcomers. To help you get a better understanding, we’ve put together this thorough guide explaining how to understand odds

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We’ll explain everything you need to know, including how to read odds, and give you answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. With that said, let’s go ahead and get started.

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Betting Odds Explained: How to Read it? 

Understanding betting odds is extremely important and essential if you're going to have a successful betting career. The good thing is that it doesn't take much to read odds and the math isn't too complicated. Odds in different countries differ, but we're going to focus on American odds. You'll see these on all sportsbook sites in the United States and you'll see different titles, as a team, spread, Moneyline, and total. These are in terms of 100 and each one will have a plus or minus. 

They are in 100 because it's a 1:1 ratio, which means for every $1 you bet, you'll win $1 if your bet wins. If it's a plus, you'll win more than $100 on a $100 bet and a minus means you'll have to bet more than $100 to win $100.


  1. Understanding betting odds is essential for successful betting. 
  2. Plus/minus system hinges on standard amount of $100.
  3. Three main types of bets: Moneyline, spread and total (over/under).
  4. Teams are given points to meet in spread betting.
  5. Betting odds represent favorable outcomes in a game.
  6. Online sportsbooks available in most U.S. states.

A moneyline bet is when you bet on only one team to win. Let's say the two teams are the Browns(+150) and the Steelers(-110). The +150 means you'll win $150 if you place a $100 bet and the Browns win. The -110 means you'll need to bet $110 to get a $100 payout if the Steelers win.

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With spread betting, each team is given certain points that they'll have to meet for you to win. Let's say the odds say Browns +3 and Steelers -5. This would mean that the Browns would have to win or lose by less than 3 for you to win and the Steelers would have to win a game by 5 or more points. If the teams tie, then you don't win or lose any money.

Total bets are also called over/under bets and they are bets of the total amount of points scored by both teams. If it says Browns Over 8, this means you'll have to bet the specified amount and the overall score has to be higher than 8. If it says Steelers Under 8, this means you'll have to bet the specified amount and the overall score has to be lower than 8.

Over Under Betting comprehensive guide.

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How Do Betting Odds Work?

Basically, odds represent the favorable outcome in a game. This can be who wins, what events will happen, or combined point amounts. The three main types of odds are British, European, and American. With that said, though, it's important to know that the type of bet differs but the payouts do not.

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Sportsbook Online

Sportsbooks online are available in most U.S. states and are a great way to place your bets. Not only do they have tons of sports, but they also have so many different bets that you can place. It's important to make sure it's legal in your state, though, so you don't get into any trouble.

Calculating Betting Odds

Sportsbooks calculate odds by putting the amount that will need to be paid out to the amount of money that all bettors have paid. The sportsbooks try to keep both sides as even as possible. Not only will this save them from losing a bunch of money, but it guarantees that anyone who wins can be paid.

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Sports Odds Explained: American Odds

Take a look below to learn more about American odds and get a better understanding of them.

How Does Plus/Minus Work in Sports Betting?

With betting, odds are defined in terms of money and $100 is usually the standard amount. If the odds have a minus, that means you have to wager that amount to win $100. If the odds have a plus, that means you'll win that amount of money if you win the wager. For example, let's say the odds are -150. This means you'll have to wager $150 to get $100 on a winning bet. If the odds are +130, this means you'll win $130 if your bet of $100, or more, wins.

Read and learn more how to bet on NFL Football.

For the most part, the minus stays around -110, which means a bet of $110 would give you winnings of $100 if your bet actually wins. This is considered the juice or vig for the sportsbook and they'll get a 10% cut regardless of how the game or match goes.

This is how sportsbooks discourage bettors from betting a large amount on the favorite. For example, let's say the Browns are in the Super Bowl and they're projected to win and they have odds of -500. This means you'll have to bet $500 to win $100.

On the other hand, this juice or vig could also encourage bettors to bet more if the plus side is higher. Let's use the same situation and say that the Browns' odds are +500. This means your $100 bet will give you a $500 win if the Browns come out on top. It's not super hard to understand but you'll want to make sure you're looking at the odds correctly to ensure you're not going to lose a bunch of money!

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How Do You Understand Odds in Sports Betting With American Odds?

American Odds are also known as moneyline bets. With this betting type, you'll see odds that have a plus sign or minus sign. The team that isn't favored to win has a minus sign and the favorite has a plus sign. The next thing we'll do is show you how to read these odds.

Let's say Team A has odds of +140. This would mean that you'd get $140 if you bet $100 and your team wins. If Team B has -140, it means you'll have to bet $140 to win $100. It's relatively easy to understand and you just have to remember what the plus and minus signs mean.

Calculating Payouts

The way that odds are calculated will depend on the type of bet being placed. There are three main types of bets, which are moneyline, decimal odds, and fractional odds. Moneyline odds are the plus and minus bets that we talked about earlier, so we're going to focus on decimal and fractional odds in this section.

Decimal odds are most commonly in Europe, Australia, and Canada. They are the easiest to understand and are relatively straightforward. They are usually just one number that goes to two decimal spaces.

Spread Betting Guide from Lines.

For example, you might see that the Browns have decimal odds of 1.5. This means that you'll get $1.50 for every $1 you wage. If you waged $100, you would win $150.

Fractional odds are most common in the United Kingdom and is the betting type that can be a little difficult to understand. To calculate the potential amount you could win, you have to make sure you add in your original wager. The odds are a fraction and we'll use 3/1 as an example. This fraction means that you can win three stakes for every one stake.

You might also see odds displayed as something like 6/4 where the first number is bigger. This means you'll get six stakes for every four stakes wagered. 

These fractions are also called odds against and are similar to the plus number in a Moneyline bet. The odds of 6/4 are equal to 1.5 units for every one unit. Once you know what it equals out to, you'll be able to calculate using the method above.

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Calculating Implied Probability

Implied probability can be a little difficult to understand and it takes some math to figure things out. We're going to look at all three betting types and try to break everything down. Implied probability is when the odds are converted into a percentage. It's important to know how to calculate these to increase your wins and cut down on losses.

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The equation you have to use for calculating decimal odds is:

(1/ decimal odds) * 100 = implied probability

Let's use an example to help get a better understanding. Player A has decimal odds of 4.50, fractional odds of 8/2, moneyline odds of +350, and an implied probability of 17.1%. Player B has decimal odds of 2.20, fractional odds of 2/6, moneyline odds of -400, and an implied probability of 73.3.%. The equation you would use to see if Player A would win is listed below.

(1 / 4.50) * 100 = 17.1%

This would mean that Player A would have a 17.1% chance of winning.

When calculating the implied probability of fractional odds, you'll use the calculation below.

denominator / (denominator + numerator) * 100 = implied probability

That means the equation would then look like this.

2 / (2 + 8) * 100 = 17.1%

As you can see, there is a 17.1% chance that Player A wins.

The final betting type is moneyline and there are two different ways to figure it out. For negative odds, the calculation is:

Negative American odds / (Negative American odds + 100) * 100 = implied probability

Once filled in, your equation should look like the one listed below.

400 / (400+100) * 100 = 73.3%

This means that there's a 73.3% chance that Player A will lose the game.

The equation used for converting positive odds is:

100 / (positive American odds + 100) * 100 = implied probability

Once you plug your numbers in, it should look like this.

100 / (450 + 100) * 100 = 17.1%

The 17.1% is the chance that Player A will win.

Decimal Odds

In betting, decimal odds are how much the bettor will win for every $1 they wager. The more you wager, the more you win. Take a look below to get a little more information.

How Do You Understand Betting Odds With Decimal Odds?

Decimal odds are the most popular types of odds and are relatively easy to understand. In simple terms, you'll get $1 for every $1 you wager, including the original amount you placed on the bet. The good thing is that it's super simple to calculate the payout for decimal odds. The equation is below.

Money Risked * Odds = Total Payout

So, let's say you bet $100 and the odds are 2.6. This means you'll get $260 if you win your bet. As you can see, the calculations are super simple. There's also a super easy equation you can use to convert decimal odds to implied probability. This equation is listed next.

1 / Decimal Odds

That's really all there is to it! Let's use the same betting amount and odds that we used in the above example. That would make the equation look like this:

1 / 2.6 = 38.5%

This means that the team you're betting on has a 38.5% chance of winning. If they win, though, you'll get your winnings regardless of anything else that happens in the game.

You can also convert plus and minus odds into decimal odds. The equation for positive odds looks like this:

1 + (American odds / 100)

Let's say that the odds are +160. You'd plug your numbers in and the equation should look like the one below.

1 + (160/100) = 2.6

Now, let's take a look at the equation for converting minus odds.

1 – (100 / American Odds)

Let's use -200 for this equation and the equation will look like the one that's listed next.

1 – (100/-200) = 1.5

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Fractional Odds

There are also fractional odds in betting and these are the ratio of the profit to the total amount at stake. Below you’ll find more in-depth information.

How Do You Understand Odds in Sports Betting With Fractional Odds?

Most of the time, these are displayed as 10/1 or 7/2. Basically, the number on the left is how much you'll win and the number on the right is how much you place on the bet. For example, let's say you bet $100. If your team wins, you'll win $100. To figure out 7/2, we'll use the same number as above. If you bet $100, you'll win $700. It's easy to understand but has the chance of starting to get confusing when you start getting into bets with much bigger amounts.

You might also see odds that look turned around like 1/10 or 2/7. These are called odds-on and turn everything around. We'll use the same $100 as an example. Instead of betting $700, you'd have to bet that to win $100. It might take a little practice, but you'll eventually get it.

The good thing about online sportsbooks is that most will show you what the possible win might be. This means you won't have to do the math because the computer will do it for you.


For those new to the betting scene, unraveling the mystery of betting odds is a crucial first step. Let's dive into the basics, focusing on the prevalent American odds. These odds, typically revolving around the $100 mark, come with a '+' or '−' sign. The '+' signals a chance to win over $100 on a $100 wager, while '−' indicates the need to bet more than $100 to win a hundred bucks.

Essential betting types include the Moneyline (choosing a winning team), spread betting (point spread requirements), and total bets (predicting the combined score as over or under a certain number). Mastering these concepts is key to making informed bets across various sports.

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Comments (2)
8/30 8:35 AM
Not a bad article, but the numbers need to be cleaned up. For example, you have 1/2.41 = 41.7% and 1/2.41 = 62.11, which is obviously not possible. The second one is wrong (I assume 2.41 was not supposed to be used again.) Also, 1/4.5 = 0.222, not 0.171. 2/(8+2) = 0.200. If decimal odds are 4.5, then that's actually 7:2, which gives 2/(7+2) = 0.222. And so on. Small gripe: 0.171 = 17.1%, not 0.171*100=17.1%. The *100 is to give you the answer to "What percent?" I.e., 0.171*100=17.1, so we take that as 17.1 percent, if that makes sense. Not a big deal, just a minor technicality.
8/23 12:35 PM
Betting odds are a way of expressing the likelihood of an outcome in a gambling event. They are typically expressed as a ratio of the amount won to the amount wagered. For example, odds of 1/10 mean that for every $10 wagered, the gambler will win $1. There are three main types of betting odds: Fractional odds: These are the most common type of betting odds in the UK and Ireland. They are expressed as a fraction, with the numerator representing the amount won and the denominator representing the amount wagered. For example, odds of 2/1 mean that for every $1 wagered, the gambler will win $2. Decimal odds: These are the most common type of betting odds in Europe and most other parts of the world. They are expressed as a decimal number, with the amount won being equal to the amount wagered multiplied by the decimal odds. For example, odds of 2.0 mean that for every $1 wagered, the gambler will win $2. Moneyline odds: These are the most common type of betting odds in the United States. They are expressed as a positive or negative number, with the positive number representing the amount won for every $100 wagered and the negative number representing the amount that must be wagered to win $100. For example, odds of -110 mean that the gambler must wager $110 to win $100. Betting odds are set by bookmakers, who are companies that accept bets on sporting events. Bookmakers set odds based on their own assessment of the likelihood of each outcome. They also take into account the amount of money that has been wagered on each outcome by other gamblers. Betting odds can change over time, as new information becomes available or as more money is wagered on an event. Gamblers can use betting odds to help them make informed decisions about which events to bet on and how much to wager.
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