Depending on where in the world you live, there are three odds formats that you will see when betting on sports. Americans are familiar with American odds where prices look like -120, or +160. The rest of the world is more familiar with decimal pricing with odds that look like 1.750 or 3.500. Sports books in the UK still use fractional pricing although it is much less common in online sports betting.
Let’s look at the different Odds Formats:
American Odds (US):
Let’s use an example from MLB. To keep it simple, think about the numbers in increments of $100:
The Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw pitching at home against the San Diego Padres with a Triple-A call up on the mound. We will assume that the Dodgers are a little better than 2 to 1 favorites.
- Padres +210
- Dodgers -245
American odds are the default option in America and they start with a positive or a negative sign, e.g. -245, or +210. A negative number is assigned to the favorite and means the amount you must bet to make $100 profit (or equivalent in your chosen currency). A positive number is assigned to the underdog and indicates how much you might profit if you bet $100.
In our example, if you want to bet on the Dodgers who are favorites in this game, you would have to put down the negative number ($245 in this case) to win $100. If you want to bet on the underdog Padres, the positive number ($210) is what you would win if you wagered $100.
Decimal Odds (Europe, Australia, Canada):
- Padres 3.00
- Dodgers 1.444
Decimal odds are predominantly used in continental Europe, Australia and Canada. To understand decimal pricing simply multiply your $100 stake by the odds. In this example, if you want to bet on the Dodgers, multiplying 100 x 1.444 returns $144.00. A $44 profit in addition to the $100 you wagered which is returned to you. If you want to bet on the Padres, multiplying 100 x 3.00 returns $300 – a $200 profit plus your original bet of $100.
Although decimal pricing might look strange at first, it really is simple when you get used to it. Multiply whatever your wager amount is by the line and it will give you your total return (profit + original wager).
Fractional Odds (also known as Traditional or British Odds):
- Padres 2/1
- Dodgers 4/9
Although not common in the US, they are still prevalent in the UK and for International Horse Racing. Fractional Odds are becoming less popular online.
If the number on the left is bigger than the number on the right, that team is the underdog. You will win the number on the left if you risk the number on the right. In our example, if you bet $1 on the underdog Padres (the number on the right), you stand to win $2 if they prevail (the number on the left).
If the number on the left is smaller than the number on the right, that team is the favorite and you must risk the number on the right to win the number on the left. So in our example, if you like the Dodgers you must risk the amount on the right ($9) to win the amount on the left ($4).
Money Line (US):
When using American Odds, the match winner market without a point spread is also known as the Money Line. Again, the numbers are represented as a positive or negative number. If the Money Line is a positive number, the amount quoted is the amount you would win on a $100 bet. If it is negative, the amount quoted is what you would need to bet in order to win $100.
Here’s an example:
- Dallas Cowboys: -108
- New York Giants: +102
In this example, if you bet $100 on the Giants, you would win $102. You would need to bet $108 on the Cowboys to win $100.
Odds Conversion Table:
|Fractional (UK)||Decimal (Europe)||American|
Most of the top online sportsbooks offer odds in each of these formats. Although each will offer the same return on your bet, it’s important to be able to identify and understand the differences.
Click here to read Part 1: How to be Successful at Online Sports Betting: Compare Betting Margins to Maximize Your Profits
Click here to read Part 2: How to be Successful at Online Sports Betting: Avoid Betting Bias