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How To Read Odds

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Are you confused about how to read odds?
You've come to the right spot

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How To Read Odds  

It is very common for new bettors to be a tad overwhelmed when being introduced to the world of sports betting. Frequently asked questions in regards to odds include, what are odds? What do they mean? And how do I read them? After reading this article you will be able to:

  • Distinguish the difference between American odds, Decimal odds and Fractional odds
  • Understand how to calculate the payout for a bet

American Odds

American odds are most commonly found in American sportsbooks. American odds are always accompanied by a “+” or “-”.

Let’s use the 2022 Super Bowl as our example:

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The -200 beside the LA Rams indicates that they are the favorite; or in other words, they are more likely to win the game. For you to win $100 you would need to risk $200.

Conversely, the Cincinnati Bengals are the underdog; or in other words, they are less likely to win the game. The +175 means that if you risk $100 and Cincinnati were to win, you would win $175.

When thinking of American odds, just remember the bigger the plus (+), the bigger the payout. The bigger the negative (-), the smaller the payout.

Decimal Odds

Decimal odds (unlike American Odds) do not include a “+” or “-”. They are more popular in Europe than in North America, and are calculated by including the potential return of a bet, which includes the original wager amount. Let's use the same example, but this time, using Decimal Odds.

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Using decimal odds, we simply multiply the wager ($) by the odds. So for example, if you bet $100 on the LA Rams, you would multiply $100 x 1.50 which would equal your return of $150. In this case you risked $100 to win $50.

If you were to wager $100 on Cincinnati, you would multiply $100 x 2.75 which would equal a return of $275. In this case you risked $100 to win $175.

Fractional Odds

The third type of odds that are used by sportsbooks are fractional odds. These types of odds are less common, especially on American sportsbooks, and are most popular in horse racing and futures markets.

Let's use the Dodgers at 4/1 odds as our example.

The first number, in this case the 4, of the fraction represents the amount you will win if you wager the second number, which is the 1. So, for every $1 wagered, you would win $4. If you wagered $2 you would win $8, $10 for $40, $100 for $400 and so on.

Odds of 4/1 means that you are getting paid 4x your wager.
Example: Risking $100 to win $400.

Odds of 1/4 means you are getting paid 25% (or 1/4x) of your wager.
Example: Risking $400 to win $100.

Odds of 1/1 are often referred to as 'even money'.

The bigger the fraction (example 15/1), the bigger the payout. The smaller the fraction (example 1/15), the smaller the payout.

The Bottom Line

If you are going to wager on sports, you must understand the odds and what they mean. Furthermore, the odds that are listed are not accurately representing the true probability of an outcome.

Most sportsbooks allow you to use whatever odds format you'd prefer and this is often adjustable in the sportsbook's settings, so go with whatever makes you the most comfortable.