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How to Read Betting Odds: Simple Guide

Author: AmericanGambler1234 | Last Updated: August 4, 2019

The essential part of being a successful sports bettor is understanding how to read betting odds when you are placing wagers. You will also want to become familiar with the probabilities that these odds imply. You don’t have to be a whiz at math to master the odds of sports betting, but you do have to have a good grasp of what these odds reflect as this is the key to making the right bets. It all starts with understanding what betting odds truly are.

When it comes to odds, you need to understand that they represent the probability of any outcome that will occur from a game of a match and they also represent the return you can earn if you place a winning bet. The probability is typically referred to as the implied probability.

As a rule, you should only place a bet when the probability of an outcome occurring is actually higher than what is implied.

For example, if the NY Giants are playing the Seattle Seahawks in an NFL game and Giants have odds of -110 with a betting line of -3.5 points, the implied probability is -110 x 52.4%.

If you have done research before betting and have learned that this team has a 65% chance of covering the betting line, you have found a value bet. 

On the flip side, if their chance of covering the betting line is only 45%, the implied probability is higher than the probability. This is not a value bet and you should avoid placing it. To get a better understanding of how odds work, you will also have to become familiar with the odds formats that are used at leading betting sites.

Here is an example of how you read betting odds +135 when you bet $250 from a great wiki source

How to read betting odds

Example of how you read betting odds with +

Reading Odds Formats

When you start placing wagers at online sportsbooks, you will find you have the ability to view odds in three different formats. The three popular formats include fractional odds, decimal odds, and American odds. 

Fractional odds

Fractional odds are more commonly found at UK and Irish bookmakers. They are written using a / or a hyphen and are used by some of the most popular bookmakers online. Let’s say a fractional odd is listed at 6/1. This would mean that you would win $6 for every $1 you have wagered, in addition to your original wager amount. So, if you bet $10 at 6/1 odds, you will get a return of $70.

Decimal odds

Decimal odds are also referred to as European odds and these are popular at betting sites located in Europe, Canada, and Australia. These odds are easier to understand as you can quickly spot the favorite and the underdog just by looking at the presented odds. The decimal odds amount will indicate how much you will win for every $1 that is wagered and returns will be a total return instead of the profit. These odds are much easier when trying to calculate your return. All you have to do is multiply your stake by the decimal odds number to determine the total return.

American odds

American odds, also known as moneyline odds, are the popular choice in the US. The favorite team will be indicated by a – sign and the underdog will be represented by a +. When betting on favorites, the amount will indicate how much you need to wager to earn a payout of $100. For underdog betting, the number reflects the amount that can be won for every $100 bet.

If you are just getting started with sports betting, you will want to make sure you understand how all of these odds work. Luckily, the best betting sites will automatically calculate your potential payout when you place a bet. You will also find that most sites will let you choose between the three odds. You can also find free odds calculators online or at bookies that can be used to convert one format to another.

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How to Read Moneyline Odds and Place Bets

When you are wagering on the major American sports, you will often see a point spread, moneyline, and a total. These three options make up American odds. With moneyline odds, there will be a + or a – in front of the number, which will indicate the underdog and the favorite. There is just one exception, and this is when both betting options are close in value and they both have negative odds. When this happens, the favorite will be the number of higher value. So, the team with -300 odds vs one with -125 odds will mean the -300 is the favorite. 

Understanding moneylines is an essential part of being a successful sports bettor since most bookies in the US will use this format. You will know right away which team is the favorite and which is the underdog, so you can quickly make educated decisions on how to wager.

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Point Spread Bets and Odds

As you become more experienced, you will find that point spreads are the most popular ay to bet on any spot. They often offer higher payouts when betting on a favorite team and they also come with reduced risks that are associated with betting on an underdog. Basically, an underdog does not have to win the game to generate a paying bet with point spreads. They just have to cover the spread. 

Just like with moneylines, point spreads are expressed using negative and positive numbers and the negative will indicate the underdog in the game. Let’s say the Atlanta Hawks have a point spread of +11 (-110) and the 76ers are -11 (-110). The positive point spread shows that Atlanta is the favorite to win and they have to win or lose by less than 11 points. If you bet on the 76ers, they will have to win by 12 to cover the spread. 

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Over/Under Odds

This is also referred to as totals betting and the odds will represent the number of points that will be scored cumulatively by the teams in the game. With this type of betting, you can bet on whether the total points will be over or under the projected amount.

These odds are displayed using (O) and (U) followed by the point spread and the moneyline. So, if the Red Sox are listed as (U) 8 (-115), they are the favorite and will have to win by more or less than 8 runs. The payouts are indicated by the moneyline odds shows, so in this case, $115 would have to be wagered to win $100.

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Free Betting Odds Calculators

You will find many betting sites to offer a free calculator that can be used to convert odds formats and determine possible payout amounts. Try free betting calculator at AceOdds. These tools are beneficial for new bettors and you can also find them with a simple online search. The best sportsbooks online will automatically convert your odds to your preferred format, but if you are comparing odds at different sites, a calculator can be quite beneficial.

With a betting odds calculator, you will enter your bet amount and your chosen odds format. The calculator will then calculate the payout for the bet that is being placed. You can take the time to calculate your own odds and change formats, but most find this to be time-consuming and they want immediate answers. 

Using any free odds calculator will allow you to know what bets are best to place and will also let you know how much you stand to win when you place a bet using any of the supported odds at your chosen online sportsbook.