Sports Betting Odds: A Quick Introduction

You’ve seen them. The unusual combination of numbers that are attached to games and matches is listed on gambling sites. You likely know that these are the odds that bookmakers have put on each event, but do you understand what these numbers mean and how they can impact your bet? In this article, we will review what sports betting odds are and show you through various examples what the outcome can be on several different betting scenarios.

There Are Three Types Of Betting Odds

Betting odds appear in three common ways. They are known as American odds, fractional odds, and decimal odds. Here is a closer look at each of these types of betting odds.

American Odds

Of all the different types of odds, American odds are the most confusing and probably the best odds for gamblers to understand. They are not as straightforward as fractional or decimal odds which makes them a bit more complicated for beginners. American odds are based around $100 but the confusing part comes from how the odds relate to that $100 which depends on if the bet is favored or not. To explain further, if the bet is favored, the odds will appear as a negative number telling you how much you have to bet to win $100. For example, if the odds are -110, you will have to bet $110 to win $100. Underdog bets appear with a plus sign. The plus odds indicate what kind of profit you would make on a $100 bet. So, a $100 bet on +200 odds will net you a $200 profit plus your original $100 bet.

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Fractional Odds

Fractional odds are found in some American sportsbooks but are more common outside of the US. As the name implies, the odds show as a fraction. For example, 3-1. In a game with 3-1 odds, you just multiply your bet amount by the fraction to see what your profit will be with a win. A $10 bet on 3-1 odds will return a $30 profit plus your $10 stake. Betting $10 on 7-4 odds will bring you $17.50 plus your $10 bet. The math for this fractional odds example goes like this: Multiply your $10 bet by the numerator (the 7 in the 7-4 odds) and then divide that total by the denominator (the 4 in the 7-4 odds). That should be 70 divided by 4 which equals $17.50. In fractional odds, favored bets will display a larger denominator than the numerator and will look like this: 1-3 or 2-7. Underdog bets are the other way around like the 3-1 or 7-4 examples above.

Decimal Odds

Decimal odds are displayed as a single number and are common outside of the US. They relate to how much a winning bet would collect on a $1 stake. For example, odds of 6 translates to mean that you would win $5 in profit, plus your $1 bet if your wager wins. With decimal odds, anything between 1 and 2 is considered a favored bet with 2 being an even money bet. Decimal odds are the choice of bookmakers when the fractional odds become rather complicated. For example, fractional odds of 20-23 would be a lot more difficult to calculate a $10 bet against so instead, bookmakers will use the decimal equivalent which, in this case, would be 1.87. Your $10 bet would return $18.70, including your original $10 stake. Although the total would be the same with the fractional odds of 20-23, the decimal odds made the calculation much easier.

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Figuring Out Your Break-Even Percentage

Now that you have a better understanding of sports betting odds in general, something you must know now is the difference between a good and a bad bet. You do this by converting your odds into a break-even percentage. Without knowing a good bet from a bad one, you won’t have much success betting on anything. So, as an example, if the bookmakers have posted +200 odds on a game, this means that the bet will come in one-third of the time. If you suspect it will be higher than that, it is a good bet. The best way to visualize how this works is to think of a coin toss at the beginning of a game. You already know that you have a one-in-two chance that the coin flip will end in heads. If the odds for a coin flip were posted at better than one-in-two, you know it’s a good bet. So, by converting your odds to a percentage, you have a better idea of whether or not the bet is a good one.

How To Calculate Break-Even

The formula to figure out the break-even percentage of sports betting odds is Break-Even Percentage = Risk / (Risk + Win). The general rule of thumb is that for any odds displayed as a negative number the break-even percentage will be above 50%. For odds displayed without the negative sign, the break-even percentage will be below 50%. Calculating plus odds involves taking 100 and dividing it by 100 plus the odds. If the odds are +130, the equation would be:

Break-Even Percentage = 100 / (100+130) = 43.5%

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For minus odds, you take the listed odds number, divide that by 100 plus the listed odds number. If the listed odds were -110, the equation would be:

Break-Even Percentage = 110 / (100+110) = 52.4%.

Final Thoughts

Sports betting can prove to be a profitable hobby. However, to benefit the most from the odds published by bookmakers, you must first understand what the odds mean. Once you have that down, you have to determine what is a good bet. The easiest way to do this is to calculate your break-even percentage. That will give you a figure you can base your betting decisions on. It may not win you every bet you make, but by increasing your odds of winning just by gaining a better understanding of how sports betting odds work, you will have a lot more fun wagering on games.