How to Read Betting Odds

For any bettor, especially those who are new to the industry, understanding how to read odds is integral to finding success. From meaning to make sense of how odds work, there’s a lot to learn. Odds are displayed in a variety of different forms, so it’s important to understand odds in order to calculate the implied probability of certain sporting events.

This article will go in-depth about how odds work and the various types of odds that bettors will find. If you have any other doubts, keep reading our Vegas Betting Guide.

How Do Odds Work?

For the most part, odds work the same across the board. However, it depends on where and which sportsbooks the bettor is wagering with at the time. We mention this because American, Decimal, and Fractional formats are quite different to look at, but can often mean the same thing.

The varying types of odds serve two main purposes; to signify the implied probability of the outcome of the bet and to indicate to the bettor how much money they could win. Odds are influenced by a variety of factors, which means that bettors need to be aware when reading the odds and not assume the odds are a clear indicator of the probability of the event.

Whichever sportsbook the bettor has chosen to go with, it’s important to recognize that said provider may manipulate the odds to encourage players to wager on a specific side. The sum of all probabilities for a specific event will always surpass 100% because sportsbooks will always take a cut of the money.

The process of taking a cut of the money is imposed in order for the provider to make money, this is how betting odds work. This is also known as “the juice” or “vig” and as we already mentioned the “cut”.

American, Decimal, and Fractional Odds?

American Odds are probably the most common format globally and ones that US bettors are quite adept at using. For example, bettors may see something like -125, +260 or more or less any other three-digit number accompanied by a +/- symbol in front of it. But what do the +/- mean?

The “-” symbol always indicates the favorite within that particular sports betting line, while the “+” symbol indicates the favorite. In some situations, there won’t be a favorite, for example in markets like golf futures.

But, how to read Vegas odds – what do these numbers even mean? Well, it’s quite simple really. Negative numbers simply how much you’d need to be to win $100. Whereas positive numbers refer to the amount of money the bettor will win if they place a $100 bet.

Fractional or British betting odds are displayed like this 5/1 or 9/2. There are a variety of ways to understand fractional odds, but the easiest way to understand the odds meaning is;

  • How much you will win/how much you stake

So for example, if a bettor wagers $5 on 10/1 they will win $55 ($50 won and the original $5 wager back). And on a 9/2 wager, the bettor places a $5 wagers gets $27.50 ($22.50 in profit, plus the $5 bet placed).

Most online providers will give users their potential winners on the bet slip. However, it’s essential that bettors understand how betting odds work in order to maximize value whilst betting.

Finally, we’ll look at decimal betting. Decimal odds are extremely easy to follow. So let’s start with the basic calculation, for example:

  • $10 at 5.5 returns $55 ($10 x 5.5 = $55)

With decimal odds the stake is automatically included in the odds, making calculating returns even easier. For example, if odds of 2.0 are the same as 1/1 in fractional odds. Decimal odds will never go below 1.00, however, the odds for Bayern Munich to win the Bundesliga might be as low as 1.67 – as we all know it’s guaranteed! However, wagering on selections of 1.01 isn’t smart, as the bettor would have to be fairly certain the bet will payout.

For those bettors that find converting odds really confusing, the easiest thing to do is search for an odds converter and run the odds through there. Don’t be worried or confused by any of it!

How to Read Betting Odds?

We’ve touched on it before, but we’ll go through and make sure we finish this article with all betting odds explained to our readers.

So, we’ve covered the main issue for bettors regarding how to read Vegas odds (Fractional, Decimal and American odd types). Beyond that it’s mainly down to the player; how to play the markets, when to bet, and how to find value in the odds.

The main point we’ll touch on here is how to maximize the value of your bet. When learning how to read odds, it’s integral to try and find the best value in the market. Bettors should find a market they know and feel comfortable betting on before they place their first wager.

Once the bettor has found a market they like, they should shop around the various sportsbooks and look for the most competitive odds available.

Once they’ve found the right odds with the right sportsbook, it’s time to begin thinking of wagering. There are a variety of betting options available to users, so bettors should also look to maximize value by wagering on the right betting market.

Some of the sportsbooks which offer the best odds are listed below:

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  • What is Push?

    There is a long list of betting terminology that bettors should learn. A “push” is certainly one of those. Every player should be aware of the possibility of a push and what that means with regard to their wager.

    Basically, a push is a tie or a draw. The only type of sports where bettors will experience a push is ones that allow the game to end in a tie (American’s hate draws, so unlikely to be seen in the US). If a push does occur, then the bet will be refunded to the player and will not count as win or loss.

    Start Wagering with Major Sportsbooks

    Well, this part is easy! It can be difficult when you first start searching for the right sportsbook – choosing a provider from the sea of sportsbooks on offer can be a daunting prospect.

    However, to make life easier for our readers we would direct you all to our list of online betting sites, which features the very best sites in operation today!


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