How Do Sports Betting Odds Work?

How Do Sports Betting Odds Work

Sports betting odds spell the difference between a successful bet and something that fails to catch on. These odds are listed in different ways, but they practically all work the same. As someone who regularly bets on outcomes. However, if you want to become successful in wagering, you need to have an in depth knowledge of sports odds and how it can affect you. Read this article to know more.

Sports Betting Odds Explained

Odds are a value which describe the likelihood of something happening. Usually they describe if a bet will win or not. For example, there is a boxing match featuring fighter Sugar and fighter Juan. When the odds are 1 to 1 for each fighter, it means each of them are likely to win a match. Now, if Sugar is assigned 2-1 odds, it would mean that Juan is twice as likely to win. Likewise, if Sugar is assigned 8-1 odds, Juan is eight times as likely to win. This is just the beginning of how you should understand odds in sports betting.

Types of Odds Commonly Used:

There are three kinds of odds in sportsbooks. They are the following:

  • American Odds – These types of odds are usually expressed in the 100s, and have a minus or plus in front of them. The plus sign usually indicates that a side is an underdog, while the minus sign is considered the favoured team. This implies that if you bet on the underdog, for every $100 you wager, you can gain a value more than $100 on top of your $100 when they win. On the other hand, if you bet on the favoured side, you get less than $100 value for every dollar you wager if they are victorious.

For example, in a football match between England and Scotland, the odds are expressed as the following:

England  – 140

Scotland  +120

England is seen as the favoured team while Scotland is the underdog. So this means that you have to bet $140 in order to win $100 when England wins. On the other hand, you would just need to wager $100 in order to win $120 when Scotland wins.

  • Fractional Odds – These odds are similar to the analogy we gave regarding boxers Floyd and Juan earlier.  These odds are more commonly used in Europe. To calculate these type of odds, you have to mentally divide the fraction’s numbers, and multiply it by your bet to know the payout you will get. Let’s say we have a football match between Germany and the Netherlands. Germany has an odds of 16 to 3 to win, while the Netherlands’ odds is 5 to 8. In this case, the Netherlands is the favoured team while Germany is the underdog. See below how the odds are calculated:

Team Name


Amount Bet

Amount won




$53.30 (16/3 *$10)




$6.25 (5/8*$10)

Again, you see the underdog has larger winnings if they become successful.

  • Decimal Odds – These odds are most commonly used in other parts of the world, especially in Asia. These types of odds are usually paired with a betting system, such as Asian Handicap, Over/Under and 1 x 2 betting. The decimal odd with a higher value is considered the underdog bet, while the one with lower value is the “favoured” bet.

For example, a match between Uruguay and Brazil show the following odds:

Team Name









Here, the handicap number (1.5) is placed across Uruguay, which means it is the favoured team, and thus has a handicap of -1.5. In contrast, Brazil is considered an underdog, and has a handicap of +1.5. If you bet on Uruguay and they win, 1.73 will be multiplied to the amount you wagered for the total payout (e.g. if you bet $100, you win $100*1.73 = $173). On the other hand, if you bet on Brazil and they won, 2.23 will be multiplied to your wager (so that would be $100*2.23 = $223).

What this would imply is that it would be safer to wager on Uruguay because they are more likely to win; but there is always room for upset, and if Brazil pull off a miracle, those who bet on them will have a richer payout.

In a Nutshell

So, basically, these kinds of odds all present the same concept, but are just presented in different ways. Certain people have been accustomed to reading odds in a particular way, so these options are made available depending on the region. It is more likely to see American odds in US sportsbooks, fractional odds in UK sportsbooks and decimal in Asian betting sites. As long as you understand what is at stake with each odds, you know what you are getting to when you bet. And you have to combine this with your knowledge of sports trends and patterns to ensure that you put your money on the odds that will let you win.