How to Read Betting Odds

Betting Academy


Reading betting odds can be tricky if you have never played a wager, so we have a complete guide on how to read Betting Odds. The odds will look different depending on where you live, so we factor in American, fractional, and decimal odds.


How to Read Betting Odds?


American Odds

American odds have been known to confuse even the most-seasoned bettors, so it can be tough to wrap your head around them.


Odds often look as follows:


Warriors logo Golden State Warriors -160


Knicks logo New York Knicks +150


What do those numbers mean? Bettors need to invest $160 in the Golden State Warriors to make a $100 profit. Every bet placed with a favorite using American odds is to win $100.


It’s a straightforward concept, but it appears confusing at face value. Betting underdogs is a different concept.


Bettors make $150 when betting $100 on the New York Knicks. If it’s a bigger underdog in the range of +1000, you’re getting odds of 10/1 or $11 decimal currency.


When reading guides on how to read betting odds, it pays to learn about American odds. They dominate TV broadcasts for sports such as NFL, NBA, and MLB, so understanding what the numbers mean is important for bettors.


Always remember the rule: when betting favorites, the number is how much you need to bet to make a $100 profit. When betting underdogs, a $100 bet sees a profit of the number displayed on the odds board.



Decimal Odds

We wish decimal odds would be a universally-used odds system. Bettors in Australia, New Zealand, and some European countries know what we mean.


A decimal odds betting market looks as follows:


Chiefs logo Kansas City Chiefs $1.70


Patriots logo New England Patriots $2.10


Betting $100 on the Kansas City Chiefs sees a return of $170 for a profit of $70. Betting $100 on the New England Patriots sees a return of $210 and a profit of $110.


It’s a more simplistic way to read odds, especially when NFL betting odds numbers. If you want a $377 bet on the Chiefs, put $377 into the bet slip, and it works out your total return. Your profit is the total return minus your original stake.


We don’t expect the decimal odds system to infiltrate American sportsbooks anytime soon, but it’s a widely-used system, and you have the option to change from American to decimal at the book.



Fractional Odds

Commonly used in the UK, fractional odds are a little more difficult to understand, mostly for short-priced favorites.


Understanding numbers such as 10-1 and 18-1 are easy. Betting on a 10/1 underdog returns $1000 for a $100 bet, that’s not rocket science. However, betting on a 3-5 favorite becomes harder to understand at first glance.


Bet $5 for a profit of $3. A 3-5 favorite has an implied probability of 62.5%, which would pay -167 with American odds and $1.60 with decimal odds.


Fractions aren’t used often when displaying sports betting odds, but it’s an option with most online bookmakers.


It originated at horse racing tracks in Britain, and it’s still the preferred method in Europe.



Which Method to Use?

Deciding which method to use depends on which you find easiest.


There are multiple ways of reading betting odds, so pick the method that you understand the best, regardless of where you live.


We believe the easiest method is decimal, but if you live in the U.S., it’s best to use American odds. Mostly because sporting broadcasts are saturated with American odds, so it’s a good way to familiarize yourself with the lingo.


Once you get the hang of betting using the American system, you’ll never look back.


Conversely, if you’re betting at the sportsbook, and you want to use decimal or fractional odds, there is usually an option to change.


They all have their pros and cons, so it comes down to personal preference.


You Get the Same Odds


It doesn’t matter which method you use to read betting odds, you get the same payout.


The odds might be displayed differently, but the odds don’t change, so bettors can lock in their value with American, decimal, or fractional odds.




Pros vs Cons

🔷 Pros:

🔹 It’s up to you, Bettors choose how the odds are displayed.
🔹 Betting is simplifies when you know how to read odds
🔹 You know your potential profit before the game starts



🔶 Cons:

🔸 Some books might not offer all three options.
🔸 The discussion on fractional odds is relatively brief, potentially leaving readers wanting more information on this format.
🔸 While it recommends choosing a preferred method, more guidance on transitioning between different odds formats could enhance comprehension.





Reading betting odds is important when placing a bet. It doesn’t matter which method you use, but understanding the basic principles of reading odds is vital.

Bettors have to know how much to bet and what their profit is before placing a bet. It’s essential in ensuring your value, so before you bet, understand what the odds mean and how much you stand to win or lose.



How to Read Betting Odds FAQ

1. Who Makes Betting Odds?

Bookmakers make the opening betting odds. These odds can change up until game time, depending on the weight of the money. Lines are often similar to book-to-book.

2. What Are Even Odds in Betting?

Even odds are displayed as +100, 1-1 or $2. Even odds will result in you doubling your money if your wager is successful.

3. How to Read Betting Odds Fractions?

Fractions were more commonly used when sports betting was first introduced in Europe. Betting fractions commonly look like 10/1 or 20/1, so a $100 bet would return $1000 or $2000.

4. Do Odds Change After a Bet?

Yes, odds can change after you place a bet. However, the odds you are locked in don’t change. If you place a bet on a team paying -140, those are the odds you receive. It typically takes a big bet or a significant injury to see odds change drastically.

5. How Accurate are Betting Odds?

Odds across bookmakers are accurate. There is rarely a discrepancy with the betting odds.


Was this helpful?