Sports Betting Odds

Welcome to the Sports Betting Odds section of The Sports Geek. If you are new to sports betting and don’t understand how to read betting odds (+150, -110, +2200, etc) we will lay it all out for you and help you learn how the betting odds work.

Sports Betting Odds Explained

Many people don’t know how to read or calculate sports betting odds, so below we have done our best on explaining how betting odds work. The most common type of sports betting odds used in North America are the American style odds which we explain below.

American Style Sports Betting Odds

Most online sportsbooks will list their odds in what is called “American Odds”. There are a couple different versions of sports betting odds, but these American Odds are the most common odds used. Reading and understanding sports betting odds can bet a little confusing to beginners, so we have provided an example below using two NFL football teams:

American Odds

  • Matchup Odds
  • New England Patriots +120
  • Pittsburgh Steelers -140

The number shown in the bracket represents the odds. The American Odds have two components to them, the first being the positive or negative sign, and the second being the number that follows the sign.

The sign in front of the number indicates whether placing a wager on that outcome will pay out more money then you have wagered or less money then you have wagered. If the odd is negative (-) it means that outcome is more likely to happen and placing a bet on that outcome would payout less than the amount you wagered, while a positive (+) odd shows that the outcome is less likely to happen and it would pay out more than the amount you wagered.

The next step is figuring out exactly how much the bet pays out, which is where the numbers in the odds come into play.

A listed odd with a – sign in front of it, such as the -140 in our example above, shows us how much money you would need to wager in order to win $100. So using the -140, this would show us that you would need to bet $140 in order to win $100 in profits. You can easily substitute the $100 bet for a $10 bet by moving the decimal place over one spot, showing us that you would need to wager $14 in order to win $10 in profits.

Negative Odds Example

A listed odd with a + sign in front of it, such as the +120 in our example above, shows us how much money you would win on a $100 bet. Using the +120 odds, it shows us that a $100 bet on that outcome would pay out $120 in profits. Again this can easily be converted into smaller or larger size bets. A $10 bet on +120 odds would pay out $12 in profits.

Positive Odds Example

Below is an example of NFL betting odds taken from an online betting site.

Betting Site Odds Example

In this example you can see Los Angeles is listed at +130 ($100 bet pays $130 plus of course your original wager back) and New England is listed at -150 ($150 bet pays $100).

The great thing about betting online is that the online sportsbooks will do the calculations for you before you place your bet. You can click on the outcome or team you would like to bet on, and then input the amount you wish to wager and it will show you your potential pay out before you confirm your bet.

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Decimal Style Sports Betting Odds

Decimal style odds are used mostly in Europe, and are pretty easy to understand. To calculate the decimal style odds all you will need to do is simply multiply the amount you wish to wager by the decimal odds shown and you will get your payout. For example it may look something like this:

Decimal Odds

  • Matchup Odds
  • USA 2.40
  • Brazil 1.55

If you wanted to place a $10 wager on the USA at 2.40 you would simply need to multiply your $10 wager by the 2.40 odds (10 x 2.40) to find out that the payout is $24. It is important to realize that with decimal style odds it includes the amount you wagered, so to find out profits you would need to subtract your wager ($24 – $10) to find out your potential payout is $14 in profits.

If you wanted to place a $10 wager on Brazil you would again just multiply $10 x 1.55 to find out that you would win $15.50 total or $5.50 in profits.

Decimal style betting odds are very simple to understand, but you won’t see them displayed in many North American sportsbooks. With that said, most online betting sites will allow you to chose the style of betting odds you want displayed, with American odds set as the default.

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Fractional / UK Style Sports Betting Odds

Fractional (or UK-style) sports betting odds are mostly used for types of racing events, but you will often see them used in futures lines for other sports as well – especially in Europe. The fractional system expresses odds in mathematical ratios or fractions.

An even-money bet is expressed as a 1/1 ratio and is typically just called “even.” The way you pronounce other types of fractional odds is as follows:

  • A 3/1 underdog is said as “three-to-one.”
  • A 1/2 favorite is said as “one-to-two.”

Like the American system, the profit is calculated using fractional odds, but not the total payout. The following equation is used to calculate earnings using the fractional system (a = the first number in the fraction; b = the second number in the fraction):

Amount Wagered * (a/b) = Potential Earnings

Like before, you may then add the Amount Wagered to the Potential Earnings to calculate the total amount received upon winning your bet.

When the first number is smaller than the second, that bet is “odds on” or the favorite in the contest. For example, if Manchester City is playing Watford, the former might be a 4/5 favorite. Calculating a winning bet on City would look like this:
$100 * (4/5) = $100 * (0.8) = $80 won

And since you also get back the money that you wagered, you cash out $180.

On the other side of that same match-up, when the first number is larger than the second in the fraction, that bet is the underdog. So, Watford’s odds would be represented as 5/4. The equation would work the same way:

$100 * (5/4) = $100 * (1.25) = $125 winnings

And since you also get back the money that you wagered, your total payout is $225.

Sports Betting Calculator

Even with all the betting odds explained, calculating payouts can be time-consuming and needlessly difficult. Fortunately, we’ve got just the tool to make your betting life easier: our sports betting calculator.

Enter the sports betting odds and your staking amount, and the calculator will give you the projected winnings and total payout!


Sports Betting Odds FAQ

To be honest, knowing how to interpret the different types of odds isn’t as important anymore, since most online sportsbooks will convert the odds for any event into any style for you. Still, it’s helpful to know what you’re looking at when you see them.

The bookmakers at each individual sports betting site. They will also use the lines set by top handicappers in Las Vegas as a benchmark for their odds.

The differences between the types of betting odds described on this page are merely how they’re each expressed. You can convert one style of betting odds to another and use them interchangeably.

Sports betting odds can be expressed in any format for any event. However, the types of betting odds used often depend on the sport or type of wager. For example, races, soccer, and futures odds are often shown in the fractional style. Baseball games usually use moneyline odds.