How To Read Sports Betting Odds

So, you have decided to put a little money down on a sports bet or two. Maybe you have a hunch about a game, or you have heard some interesting news that could affect the outcome of a match, or you just want a reason to be interested in a game that has no draw for you personally. Whatever the reason, we are excited that you are ready to take the plunge into the betting world.

Now, you have read some of our reviews, and have chosen the site that is right for you. You make an account, deposit some cash and head to the sports betting page. What happens next may be intimidating for some, as there are odds posted all over the page on many sports. Some in-play odds, as well as futures bets, are listed, and the overall experience can be frightening. The first thing you have to understand is how to read the odds, so you know exactly what your risk will be in making any particular wager.

Different Betting Odds Explained

Let’s look at the main categories of sports betting odds. Now, we are going to break these down into their basic forms. If you are looking for an advanced probability session, then we suggest reading our more in-depth page on Implied Odds.

American Odds

If you live outside of Europe, and especially if you live in North America, these are the odds you are most likely going to encounter when looking to place a bet. These odds are built for the major North American sports but can also apply to sports that are more popular around the rest of the world.

There are two types of American Odds that can be used for wagering: The Money Line and the Point Spread. We have a full page dedicated to the differences, but here is quick overview:

  • Toronto Raptors – 155
  • Utah Jazz +135

This is the money line, which basically means that in order to win $100 you would need to bet $155 on the Raptors, while if you wanted to bet on the Jazz, you would receive $135 back on a $100 wager. This is a bet to pick the winner of the game regardless of the final score.

The point spread for the same game might look like this:

  • Toronto Raptors -7.5
  • Utah Jazz +7.5

In this scenario, you don’t have to risk more to win back the same $100 on each team, but you do have to take or lay the points. For example, if Toronto wins the game by 3 points, then the bets on Utah would be a winner as they receive an additional 7.5 points to the final Utah Score. For Toronto to win the bet, the Raptors would have to win by 8 or more points.

Decimal Odds

Decimal Odds are more likely to be found in European-focused sportsbooks and are the primary method for people who are betting on soccer. Decimal odds can also be applied to other sports including those in North America. If we use the same basketball game as the example, these would be the likely Decimal Odds for the game:

  • Toronto Raptors 1.45
  • Utah Jazz 2.05

To calculate the return, it is as simple as multiplying the amount of your wager by the odds on the team you have chosen. So, for a $100 bet, you would receive $145 back if the Raptors win and $205 if the Jazz win. It is a very simple formula, and much like the money line, it only matters who wins the game. Soccer lines also feature odds on a tie, and Decimal Odds are a tidy way to display the risk for taking a draw in any game.

Fractional Odds

Fractional odds are very popular in the UK and Ireland, and these days the majority of pari-mutuel wagering (horses, dogs, etc.) use Fractional Odds. These are also very easy to calculate, as you are using the two numbers to determine your return. Let’s look at a couple of horses to demonstrate how these odds work.

  • Justify 1 / 2
  • Any Old Horse 10 /1

In Fractional Odds betting, the second number is the number you would wager, and the first number is the amount you would receive in return. For these two horses, the odds are very different. If you want to bet on Justify, you would need to bet $2 to return an additional $1 in winnings for a total of $3. If you bet on the other horse, you would receive $11 back for every $1 bet (your original $1 and the $10 from the 10/1 odds).

As you can see, all three types of sports betting odds get you to the same place. Now, there can be small pieces of value by using one set of odds over another, but realistically most books now move all the lines at the same time. If you are still a little confused or simply have a preference of lines, have no fear. Sportsbooks don’t show all the different odds for each game, with most simply allowing you to toggle between the different types of odds so you can work with the set you feel the most comfortable with.

Now that you have an understanding of the different odds types, it is time to jump in and start betting! Check out some of our other Betting guide pages to help you navigate everything you need to know about a sportsbook.

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