Sports Betting Odds Explained
Before you start betting on sports, the first thing you need to know is how the odds work.
The odds determine how much you’ll win on your bet, and it can be hugely different depending on who you’re betting on.
We’ll cover everything about how sports betting odds work:
- How to read sports betting odds (not to be confused with betting lines)
- Underdog odds
- Favorite odds
- How to calculate your winnings based on odds
- Different types of sports betting odds: American, fractional and decimal
- FAQ: underdogs, favorites, what odds you want, etc
- Where to go once you know the basics
Sports Betting Odds vs Sports Betting Lines
It helps to get a little sports betting vocabulary out of the way. You might hear people talk about the “odds” of a game or the “line” of a game. These are two different things. So what’s the difference?
Sports betting odds tell you how much you’ll win on the bet you place, while the betting line tells you how much your team is predicted to win by (also known as the point spread).
This article will focus on the odds, but we have an article on sports betting lines you can check out also.
How to read sports betting odds
Sports betting odds show you a plus (+) or (-) and then a number. The first thing to look at is whether the bet is a plus bet or a minus bet.
What does the + and – mean in sports betting? Plus bets mean that bet is less favored (the underdog), so you will get paid more than your bet when you win. A minus bet means the bet is less risky (the favorite bet), so you will get paid less than your bet. Of course, with both types of bets, you always get at least your money back.
So how do you read the bet?
For plus bets: The number next to the plus sign is how much you would profit if you made a $100 bet. The higher the number, the more you get paid if your bet hits. In example, a bet with +200 odds would pay you $200 profit if you make a $100 bet. This means you get $300 from the sportsbook after winning a $100 bet with these odds (your $100 back + $200 profit you won = $300)
For minus bets: The number next the minus sign is how much you need to bet profit $100. The higher the number, the less you get paid if your bet hits. In example, a bet with -200 odds you would need to bet $200 to win $100 profit. This means you would get $300 from the sportsbook after winning a $200 bet with these odds (your $200 back + $100 profit you won = $300)
You can see the big difference in these odds from the examples above. Let’s NC State and Duke are playing. NC State has +200 odds to win and Duke has -200 odds to win. Your goal is to make/profit $100. You would have to put a $200 bet on Duke to win to win this $100. For NC State, you could put a $50 bet (a $100 bet would have paid $200) to win the same amount.
This is how sportsbooks control the bets. They know Duke is the favorite, so you have to risk losing 4 times as much to win the bet.
How to calculate betting odds
The betting odds are easy when you’re working in the $100 increments shown above. But how do you calculate how much you’ll win based on the odds with any bet?
You convert the bets to a fraction.
For plus bets you use this equation (betting odds / 100) * (the amount you bet) = your profit (you’ll get the profit + the amount you bet back in your account). In other words, if a bet has +600 odds, and you want to bet $5, you can do the math like this:
- your fractional odds = (600 / 100) = 6
- 6 * $5 (the amount you bet) = $30 or how much you profit
- $30 (your winnings/profit) + $5 (your bet amount) = $35 or the amount the sportsbook will put in your account
For minus bets, you do the same as above except you flip the first part of the equation: (100 / betting odds) * (the amount you bet) = your profit. So if the team you want to win is a heavy favorite and has -600 odds, you can do the math like this:
your fractional odds = (100 / 600) = 0.167 (needed a calculator for this one)
0.167 * $5 (the amount you bet) = $0.84 or how much you profit
$0.84 (your winnings/profit) + $5 (your bet amount) = $5.84 or the amount the sportsbook will put in your account
Huge difference! But also +600 vs -600 odds means Vegas thinks the -600 is a very, very likely to win.
This calculation is a good transition to other types of betting odds.
American Odds vs Fractional Odds vs Decimal Odds
The odds we discussed above are called “American Odds.” These are most commonly used in the United States. In other countries and sometimes other types of gambling like horse racing, you might find fractional odds or decimals odds. I think fractional odds and decimal odds are easier to understand because they tell how much you win no matter the size of your bet (we calculated it above when determining payouts from American odds).
Fractional and decimal odds are the fraction or decimal you multiply your bet by to determine how much you profit.
Decimal odds: Decimal odds tell you how much to multiply your bet by to determine the total amount you’ll get paid back. Decimal odds are always over 1 because you’d never do a bet that gave you back less money than you bet if you win. Decimal odds of 2.0 mean you would get $20 back (10*2) on a $10 bet (your profit would be $10… your $20 you won minus $10 bet). This would be the same as +100 American odds
Fraction odds: Fractional odds tell you the fraction to multiply your bet by to determine the profit you’ll win. Since it tells you the profit, the fraction can be less than one. A fractional bet with 1/2 odds would mean you win/profit $5 on a $10 bet [$10 * (1/2) = $5]. You would also get your $10 bet back, so you’d receive $15 from the sportsbook.
The big difference between fractional odds and decimal odds is fractional odds tell you how much you’ll profit when you bet and decimal odds tell you the total amount you’ll receive (profit + the amount you bet).
FAQ on sports betting odds
Here are a few questions we commonly get on sports betting odds.
What is the money line bet?
The moneyline bet is a bet on who will win the game. Sometimes people use the moneyline similarly to the odds because the odds explain who is the favorite and by how much. An example: “What is the moneyline for the Packers Bears game?” “The packers are +150”
Does the underdog have positive (+) or negative (-) odds in the moneyline bet?
The underdog is the team with plus (+) odds because this means you profit more than you bet. An example is the underdog might have +250 odds, meaning you can bet $100 to win an extra $250.
Does the favorite have positive (+) or negative (-) odds in the moneyline bet?
The favorite is the team with minus (-) odds because this means you profit less than you paid to make the bet. An example is the favorite might have -300 odds, meaning you have to bet $300 to win $100.
Is it better to have plus (+) or minus (-) odds?
If you’re a fan, you want your team to have minus odds because that means they are the favorite to win the game. If you won a bet, you would rather have positive odds because it means you’ll get paid more money.
Spread bets aren’t considered an odds bet because the odds are usually the same, but they do have odds. Most of the time the odds will be -110 which means that the bet has abouta 50% chance of winning or losing, so you’ll get just less than double your money back (the reason it’s a little less is how the sportsbook makes it’s profit…also called juice.
Where you should go next with your sports betting journey
Now that you know the basics of sports betting odds, there are a couple of articles I suggest you check out next.
Now that you know sports betting odds, you’ll also want to know the most common types of sports bets (this will cover moneyline bets, spread bets, and over/under bets).
Once you have the basic types of bets and odds down, you’ve graduated to learn betting strategy. We go over different ways to maximize your odds and even guarantee you’ll make money early on in your sports gambling adventure.