How Do Betting Odds Work?

Simply put, betting odds display the probability of an outcome and are represented in a fractional or decimal form most of the time.

how betting odds work

If you’re planning to begin wagering – be it sports betting, in an online casino, or any other type – it’s crucial to understand the risk. Wagering smartly needs to have a good knowledge of the main types of wagering odds and the ability to study and interpret different formats.

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What Are Odds?

Bookmakers compile them to represent what they think is the probability of matches or a betting match happening. You can find them as decimals or fractions used in the United Kingdom and the UK. Americans also have their way.

Online sportsbooks apply odds to any match the bookie is taking wagers on, from soccer, racing, and politics to football and basketball.

What Are the Odds For?

They help bookmakers present the likelihood of something happening. If a bookie has the result of something with a higher probability, that thing is more likely to happen than not. If he deems it to have a reduced likelihood, then there’s less likelihood of it happening. Simply presenting the odds helps players locate markets quickly and bet without difficulties.

The science behind gambling and odds can help players determine if a bet is worth pursuing.

Variety of formats for which odds are displayed

Bookies can use three different techniques to display types of odds. Despite bookmakers using different formats, all these examples translate to equal conquering chances. You’ll receive a $2 profit for each $1 you bet successfully.
  • American Odds – Example +200
  • Fractional/UK Odds – Example 2/1
  • European/Decimal Odds – Example 3.00

American Style Sports Betting Odds

These are highly popular in the USA. It works differently for the weak teams and Favorites.

People also refer to them as ‘Moneyline’. When you bet on Favorites, you’ll see how much cash you need to bet to win $100.

Things change when wagering on underdogs. The positive sign shows the cash you’ll win after placing a bet worth $100.

If you notice PK alongside the odds, the match has no Favorites, and you can pick the victor without worrying about the point spread.

UK Style Odds

Also known as Traditional, British, or UK odds, these types are mainly found in horse racing. These odds display the net sum the bookie will pay the sports betting gambler if they’re victorious, considering the amount of money you stake.

For instance, let’s assume you select Chelsea, who has odds of 1/4; you’ll win a total payout of $1 for every $4. It means $5 for someone with a $4 bet.

Before you bet on a game, you need to understand certain things and strategies to enhance the chance of getting winnings. Having a great strategy guarantees a 100% win. However, players don’t need a long list of tips to win football bets because they can overwhelm and confuse them. Some common strategies include knowing the betting markets, using multiple bookies, remaining impartial, following reputable tipsters, etc.

Decimal Odds

These are famous in Australia, Europe, and Canada and are the easiest to understand. Almost every online sportsbook will provide the option of accessing your chances in this format. The odds for sports are the amount you’ll earn if your wager is a winner.

betting odds calculation

Are Odds Different Depending on Sport?

Sports odds are displayed differently depending on the sport, but slightly. However, understanding the minor differences is crucial to betting on several sporting events.


When wagering on the NFL in 2022, you must understand the point spread, the over/under, and the American odds.

For instance, when navigating a legal gambling site, you might come across this game listing:

Team Point Spread Moneyline Sum
A+4 (-110)200Over 42.5 (-110)
B-4 (-110)-170Under 42.5 (-110)

Team A has the positive sign and is the underdog, and the bookie will add +4 points to their outcome. Team B is the favorite and will get -4 points deducted.

The betting odds calculator in the Moneyline gives a player the cash they need to wager on either team to get a profit. For Team A, you need to wager $100 to earn $200. For Team B, you need to bet $170 to win a profit of $100.

The OV/UN is the estimated combined points each team scores. You can predict if there will be either under 42.5 points or over 42.5 points.


Bookies list odds in b-ball like they do in football. Here is an example of a basketball match.

Team Point Spread Moneyline Sum
A+5 (-110)175Over 212.5 (-110)
B-5 (-110)-205Under 212.5 (-110)

The point spread shows that Team A is an underdog and its implied probability of winning is less. It will have five points added to the final score. The Favorites team A will have five points deducted from the FT score because they have a more significant victory percentage.

Players need to bet $110 to win $100 on each side. When you bet $100 on the underdog, you’ll receive a potential payout of $175. On the other hand, you need to bet $205 to get a $100 profit.

To summarize

If you’re starting to place bets online or playing real money casino games, it’s crucial to read, understand and calculate odds in betting. It would be best to familiarize yourself with calculating odds into implied probabilities, the features of actual possibilities of the total payout, and the chances displayed. It’s only through this that you’re able to make an informed decision.

If you’re gaming on a website with a different format than the one, you’re used to, you can use online betting calculators for odds calculation. Note that the figures a bookie will calculate and display don’t always reflect the implied probability of an event occurring.

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