Michael McKean is an experienced writer with a portfolio that includes work on the subjects of sport, gambling, travel and finance. With a background rooted in journalism, Michael first ventured into the professional writing world based in Switzerland, where he wrote for a number of language and travel sites and magazines before moving into the world of sports writing and gambling sites.
As an avid soccer fan, who follows everything from the Scottish lower leagues to the European elites, he has earned himself a solid reputation as a reliable football betting tipster and predictor. Outside of work, Michael has always gotten involved with grassroutes football everywhere he has worked and lived - UK, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland and Brazil - and still isn’t shy when it comes to pulling the boots on himself. As well as soccer, he has also developed a love of North American sports, particularly ice hockey - a love which began in Switzerland and saw him venture across the pond to follow the NHL. Moving away from dry land, he’s also a keen longboard surfer and is happiest when writing with a view of the ocean.
Betting odds are an important tool for any sports gambler to make use of, because they explain how likely a certain event is to occur, and also how much money will be won if it does. Learning about odds and the different types available today is something every bettor should do. Below we break down how to use the best odds to find the probability of winning or losing a wager. We also talk about calculating winnings using the odds available. Once you understand these two concepts you can effectively choose between different wagering opportunities and pick out the option that’s best. Sports odds aren’t too complicated, and now’s the time to learn how to use them.
Betting Odds Tips
Betting odds come in three formats
They explain how much you can win
They hint at the likelihood of a wager working out
What are Betting Odds?
Betting odds are a set of numbers that are attached to every sort of wager that you can make on a sports betting site. If you’re looking to have betting odds explained, the simplest answer is that they are numbers that let you know how likely an event is to happen, and how much a person stands to gain with a successful wager. Online betting odds and in-person odds work the same, and once understand most decisions become simpler to make overall. That’s why it’s so important to take the time to get to know how odds work and to learn to understand the different odd display types as well.
Why is it Beneficial to Understand Odds?
Knowing the answer to questions like “are betting odds locked in?” and “how are betting odds calculated?” is helpful to the average sports bettor because it helps with the decision-making process. Taking just a few minutes to get to know how odds work will make it easier to make decisions about which team to wager on, and how much money to wager as well. Imagine looking at a particular wagering opportunity and knowing how likely it is to go your way, and also how much money can be won when you place an online bet. With just those two bits of information, it’s much simpler to decide how much to wager.
Once you grasp the mechanics of betting odds, you'll be able to understand betting money-line better. You will also be able to grasp both the advantages and downsides of future bets and various other betting options. You need to know whether you are taking a long shot or not so that you can be prepared for a loss if it comes.
What are the Different Types of Odds?
There are three different types of odds, all of which give the same information. There are American Odds, which are displayed on sports bets for most American players. There are decimal odds, which are the most common in other countries, and there are fractional odds, displayed as a fraction. You will usually be able to use either of these formats at sportsbook sites offering legal sports betting in the US.
American betting odds are some of the easiest for calculating what they are worth, but one of the most difficult for calculating probabilities. American odds are displayed in a +120 or a -120 format depending on the odds of the wager. Any + odds mean that for every $100 wagered, the + amount is won. The -120 format odds mean that for every $120, or whatever the odds number is that is wagered, $100 can be won. So if the odds are -250 the player would have to wager $250 in order to win $100.
Decimal odds look different than American odds, but they work the same. The odds are displayed in a decimal format such as 0.74 or 2.20. To determine how much can be won from a specific wager amount, simply multiply that amount by the decimal. For a $100 wager, the 0.74 odds would pay out $74 and the 2.20 odds would pay out $220. It’s as simple as that.
The final type of odds are fractional odds and they are easy to work with as well, but also very different. Fractional odds are displayed like 4/1 or 3/2. A higher first number and smaller second number is a good thing, and the larger the difference is between those two numbers, the better the odds are. To calculate the payout potential for fractional odds, simply multiply the wager amount by the first number and divide it by the second. A $100 wager would pay out $400 for the first odds, or $150 for the second odds.
How are Betting Odds Calculated?
There are special analysts whose job is to create betting odds to be as accurate as possible for any wager opportunity. Their job is to make the odds at a level where players will place wagers at either side of the position in equal numbers. In order to do this they look at the past performance of both teams, they look at the weather, the health of the individual players and hundreds of other statistics to come up with these figures. After looking at all the different information, they generate betting odds that are as accurate as they can make them.
Using Odds to Calculate Probability
Now that you know about the different betting odds formats and a bit about how they work, it’s time to dig into calculating probability using odds. It’s important to realize that odds aren’t 100% accurate or it wouldn’t be called betting. The odds were calculated by an analyst or an oddsmaker as they’re often called, and they don’t get the figures perfect. Even still, it’s possible to rely on the odds with relative accuracy, at least good enough to have positive results over time. Below is an overview of how to calculate probabilities using each of the different odds formats. A betting odds calculator can be used to determine the different payouts and probabilities as well for simplicity.
Let’s start with fractional odds, likely the easiest to calculate probabilities with. To calculate the probability of a wager coming true simply add the top and bottom numbers together, divide 100 by that combined total, and multiply that number by the bottom number. That’s the percent chance that the stake is going to come true. For instance, 4/1 would be (100/5) * 1 = 20%. 1/5 would be (100/6) * 5 = 83.33%. With that probability it’s easy to see whether a wager is worth placing or not. Long-term gamblers will note that the less-likely stakes come with the highest prize payouts.
Using decimal odds it’s simple to determine the chances of a wager working out or not. Simply divide 100 by the decimal amount and you’ll have the percentage that the wager is predicted to work out. For example, a decimal of 10.00 has a 10% chance of hitting. This can be used for betting odds with NBA options and other sports as well.
American odds are one of the most difficult to determine probabilities with, but still simple. Start by converting American to fraction. -200 would be 100/200 +300 would be 300/100.
From there, add the two numbers together and divide the bottom number by the whole amount to get the probability. For instance, -200 would be 200/300 for 66%. 300 would be 100/400 for 25%.
Determining a Wager Payout with Odds
Finding wager payouts using odds is quick and easy and something every bettor needs to know how to do. Read the tricks below to learn how to do this with each set of odds.
Fractional: Fractional odds quote the potential profit of a successful wager. To find the profit simply multiply the wager amount by the top number and divide by the lower number. A $20 wager with 2/5 odds would pay out $8.00 in profit with a win. This is calculated by multiplying $20 by 2 and dividing that number by 5.
American: When using American Odds you can easily convert the odds into fractional odds to determine the final payout. +120 would be 120/100, -120 would be 100/120. From there you can use the fractional method to find the total payout potential for the wager. For instance, with +120 odds you just multiply your stake by the top number and divide it by the lower number. With a $20 stake you could expect to get back $24 with a successful wager, and that already subtracts the initial wager amount, so the actual payout would be $44 or $24 + the original $20 that you wagered.
Decimal: Decimal odds are for the total amount paid out in the end, not just the profit amount. When using decimal odds determining the total payout from a wager is simple. Just multiply the stake amount by the decimal odds. For instance, if the wager is $20 and the odds are 2.50, then the total payout would be $50. Now subtract the initial stake to get a $30 profit overall. It’s as simple as that to calculate the payout from different wagers using decimal odds.
Practice Using Odds on Real Sports Bets
Now that you know how odds work and how to make the most of them as guides to help you wager more consistently, it’s time to start leveraging odds to help you make better wagering decisions. Take a look at our sports betting comparison page and use that information to help you choose the right online sportsbook to play at. Once signed up for a sportsbook, start using odds to help control your different wagering decisions and you can win more consistently as a result.
Conclusion: Learning to Use Betting Odds Results in More Wins
Betting odds and sports odds in general are something that seems confusing at first, but are actually simple and easy to work with. Every gambler needs to know how they work, and should spend time finding out how are betting odds calculated and how to use a betting odds calculator as well. With that information players can wager more effectively and they’ll know what to expect from different wagering decisions that they make as well.