How to Read Sports Betting Odds

Posted By: Date: 12/12/2012 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

Most individuals who are just starting out in sports betting will sign up with an online sportsbook, hit the local casino or maybe even have a few drinks before gathering the courage to approach a betting window in Las Vegas. Before you make any of these moves, we would like to introduce you to the enormous range of payout displays and betting types ““ odds, lines, straight bets, parlays, teasers, prop bets, etc. This will give you an idea of what you’re looking at on the boards before selecting a wager.

There are three basic types of odds you could be looking at, based on the type of bet and the region of the world from which you are betting.

Fractional Odds

If you are in the United Kingdom, you will be presented with what is called Fractional Odds. These are also common in horse racing, in or outside of the UK. Fractional odds are presented as one number over another, such as 3/1, spoken aloud as “3 to 1”?. This would mean that for every 1 wagered, could you win 3. For example, if you bet £10, you would win £30. The stake will also be returned, so you would actually receive £40.

If the first number in fractional odds is lower than the second, such as 1/5, you would stand to win less than you are actually betting. It would be spoken “1 to 5”?, meaning that for every 5 wagered, 1 is awarded. If you were to stake £100, you would only win £20 (100 / 5 = 20). Thus you would receive your original £100 back, plus a £20 profit.

Decimal Odds

Sports bettors all over Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand should be acclimated with Decimal Odds. These differ from fractional odds in two distinct ways. First and most obvious, they are displayed as a decimal number, not a fraction. More importantly, however, the payout includes the bettor’s stake, not just the amount to be won. It is crucial to remember this fact lest one be highly disappointed upon winning their first bet.

The number shown is the number of betting units to be paid back to a winning bettor. For example, if you wagered €100 on decimal odds of 2, you would get €200 back, including your original stake. The fractional equivalent would be 1/1. Any decimal odds of less than 2.0 would have a negative payout (less than even money). For example, odds of 1.5 would only win half of the stake. A €100 bet would be paid €150; the €100 wagered plus €50 for the win. Any odds above 2 would have a positive payout (better than even money). For example, 3.2 odds would pay €320 on a €100 wager; the €100 bet plus €220 in winnings.

The easiest way to calculate decimal odds is to simply multiply your stake by the odds. The result is the exact amount you will get back if you win.

Money Line Odds

In the USA, the majority of bets are displayed as Money Lines. These are completely different from fractional and decimal odds. Money line odds are always based on the amount a player would win for a $100 stake. You certainly don’t have to make sports bets in increments of $100, but lines show the amount you would win if you did.

Money line odds are displayed as positive (+) or negative (-) integers. Pay very close attention to the positive/negative aspect because it denotes whether you will win more or less than the amount wagered.

A positive (+) money line depicts the amount of money to be won for a $100 wager.

A negative (-) money line depicts how much you would have to wager to win $100.

Go back and read those two lines again”¦

If you intend to use money line odds, and memorize nothing else while reading this sports betting guide, it should be those two lines. I’ll say it again. A positive (+) money line depicts the amount of money to be won for a $100 wager. A negative (-) money line depicts how much you would have to wager to win $100. Got it? Okay, let’s proceed.

Let’s say the money line odds are +250, you would win $250 for a $100 wager. If the money line odds are -250, you would be required to wager $250 to win $100. Simply put, a positive (+) number means you will win better than even money, and a negative number means the payout is less than even money.

Odds at Online Sportsbooks

Fortunately, the majority of online sportsbooks will exhibit odds in two or three of the display formats above. They will be labeled “UK”? (fractional odds), “EU”? (decimal odds) or “US”? (money line). Many online sports betting sites will even allow you to choose your preferred display of odds. Others will simply show all of them in a column. There are some, however, who will post odds according to your country of residence, so it’s a good idea to know how to read all types of odds and lines.

Here’s is an example of how all odds would look next to one another. A wager that pays 4 to 1 would look like this:

UK: 4/1 (fractional)

EU: 5 (decimal)

US: +400 (money line)

A wager that pays less than even money, such as 1 to 4, would look like this:

UK: 1/4 (fractional)

EU: 1.25 (decimal)

US: -400 (money line)

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