Betting Odds

How do sports betting odds work? Understand the different types of betting odds as well as what they represent (i.e., implied probability).

In betting, there is nothing more important than understanding and being comfortable with the various formats used to represent sports betting odds. Odds put a number on how much money an outcome would earn you, based on how likely it is to occur. Sports betting and esports betting are simple:

  • the higher the risk taken, the highest the reward
  • the lower the risk taken, the lowest the reward

You might be great at picking winners, but if you don't have a concept of the value they are bringing you, all of this will ultimately count for nothing. Throughout this article, we will explain how to read odds and effectively teach you everything you need to demystify betting odds.

When you place a bet if the first thing you look at isn't the odds then we would suggest that you are doing something wrong and you need to address this before you go any further.

How To Read Betting Odds

The way people read odds can vary. This will largely come down to what country you reside in. These different ways of, in fact, saying the same thing are called "odd formats". Common odd formats include decimal odds (in Continental Europe), American odds (in North American), as well as fractional odds (in the United Kingdom).

If you are familiar with one type of display of odds it can be very confusing to see it displayed in another format but it is important to note that all odds are trying to tell us the same thing. That is, how much money you will receive based on the amount you have staked.

In the following sections, we will provide examples of how to read different odds and different formats.

Betting Odds Formats

Odds do not always appear in the same format. The way they are presented will largely come down to which area you reside. It is important to note that all of these odds are telling us the same thing but getting adjusted to another odds format can be difficult if you are used to only looking at one format.

Odd NameExampleDescription
Decimal5.0To calculate the payout with decimal odds all you need to do is multiply your stake by the odds. For example, a bet of $10 will return $50. This amount will include your stake so the Profit will come to $40.
Fractional4/1On the left-hand side, you will see how much profit you will make from the stake on the right-hand side. In this example, a bet of $10 will return $50. Profit = $40
American+400With American odds, there will be a plus sign before the amount to indicate the amount you would be in profit for every $100 spent. When there is a minus sign before the amount the opposite will occur. In both scenarios, you will have your initial stake returned and the profit indicated by the odds.
Hong Kong4.0With Hong Kong odds all you have to do is multiply your stake by the odds. In this example, a bet of $100 will result in a profit of $400. The odds here do not include the stake that will be returned.
Indo+4.0There are two types of Indo odds. Positive and negative. A bet placed with odds at 4.0 would mean that you will make 4 units for every one unit wagered. Plus the amount you staked.
Malay-0.2500When displayed as a negative number, Malay odds represent the unit amount a better would be risking to win $1.
Implied Probability20%Implied probability refers to the chances of your bet winning. If your bet needs to win 1 in 5 times to break even your implied probability will be 20 %.
Common Odd Formats

American Odds

American Odds, which are also called US odds or Moneyline odds, are common in the United States. The favorites come with a minus symbol. The higher the absolute value of the number (the minus sign is ignored), the more likely the bet will win. For instance, a -300 favorite is more likely to win against a -200 favorite.

The underdogs get a plus symbol, i.e., the higher the value, the greater the underdog. In this case, a +300 underdog is more likely to win against a +400 underdog.

Fractional Odds

Fractional odds are commonly used in the UK markets. They are presented with the amount of money you will receive (stake included) on the left-hand side and the stake you would need to bet to receive such an amount on the right. When the money can be divided into 1 the odds will be very clear and will look a bit like this. Examples will include 4/1 or 33/1.

However, when the odds cannot be divided into 1 you might see odds like 17/2. This is effectively 8.5/1. In this case, if you bet £10 you will receive £85.

Decimal Odds

Decimal odds, otherwise known as European, continental, or digital odds are, as their multiple names suggest, mostly common in continental Europe, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia. These types of odds are easier to comprehend.

These represent the amount an individual wins for every $1 they wager. In this case, instead of representing the profit, the number denotes the total payout. For example, if a better is offered odds of 40/50, the odds are displayed as a fraction, i.e., 1.98.

In this case, if a bettor places a stake of £1 on this particular bet, and if it turns out to be successful, the bettor will get £1.98 back, leaving them with a profit of 98p.

Hong Kong Odds

Hong Kong odds are also called HK odds. These are known to be among the most straightforward of odds formats. A plus and minus sign are used to denote the relationship between a bettor's initial wager and their possible gain. For example, Team Y may be +1.35, and Team Z may be -1.35, the draw being +0.25.

Hong Kong odds function similarly to the fractional format, the only difference being, they are demonstrated in decimals.

Malaysian Odds

Also referred to as Malay Odds, these are a way to relate the relationship between a bettor's stake and their potential profit on a certain bet. Malaysian odds are estimated in "1.00" units. Bookies offer bettors two odds, i.e., positive, and negative. The positive odds denote the bonus amount when a wagerer wins a bet, and the negative odds indicate the amount the bettor loses.

Indonesian Odds

Also called Indo Odds. These types of odds show the prospects of something happening or not happening. These are identical to American odds in the sense that they both are the same, just divided by 100. For instance, the positive numbers like +125 are shown as 1.25; this way the plus sign is suggested even if it is not present. The negative odds in Indo odds denote the among of money that must be risked to be able to win one unit.

betting odd formats
Common betting odd formats.

How Do Betting Odds Work

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Firstly, we should start by saying that betting odds are supposed to be a representation of the likelihood of your selection winning. However, you also need to factor in that bookmakers make lots of money and don't do this by offering their clients the best deals. This is why when choosing odds to bet with it can be very difficult. Without doing diligent research it will be difficult to know the value of the odds you are betting on.

Odds also will change at several points depending on how the event is going or if any news occurs which is likely to have an effect on the way the game plays out. Just to give an obvious example if you are betting on Portugal to win a game and news comes in that Cristiano Ronaldo is set to miss the game then this will affect the odds. However, if they race into a 2-0 lead then the odds will come down drastically.

It is then up to the better to realize if they believe the odds that the bookmaker are offering are fair. If you are comfortable in reading a specific format, we have a betting odds converter that can help you.

Implied Probability

Implied probability refers to the likelihood of your selection winning based on the odds you have selected. When you select odds you will need this selection to win in the long run at the implied probability to consider the bet you placed as a good one.

To put this in the simplest way possible, if you were to bet on a coin toss betting with true odds you would receive exactly double the money you stake. However, a bookmaker knowing this will have odds slightly lower than Evens. This is how bookmakers make their money. Therefore if you bet on a horse to win at 3/1 it is likely that the bookmaker doesn't believe that the horse has a one in three chance of winning the race. They actually think it is a little more. Therefore, as sports bettors, we are always up against the odds and the house edge, so this is why it can be difficult to find great value bets in any sportsbook.

What Do Odds Represent
Meaning of Betting Odds

Converting Odds

If you wish to convert odds because the site you are using doesn't have your preferred format, start using one of the many free online odds converters.

The best free odds format converters:

Just bookmark the one you prefer and use it as needed!

Sports Betting Odds: FAQ

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions in regards to betting odds.

What do betting odds mean?

Betting odds, in theory, represent the selection's chances of winning a given event. Odds also are an accurate and exact representation of how much money you will receive based on how much money you stake. Therefore when you place a bet you know exactly how much you will need to risk to return a set amount.

What is moneyline in betting?

Moneyline is an American betting term that essentially means you are betting on the outcome of the contest. There will usually be only two to three outcomes available. Essentially this can also be described as backing a winner. You will only come across this term if you bet on the American sports markets.

What is the difference between fixed odds and spread betting?

There is a huge difference between these two types of betting. You will receive the set amount with fixed odds if your bet wins and will lose no more than your stake if your selection loses. With spread betting, you can lose more than you stake and win more depending on how the match goes. This makes this type of betting significantly riskier.

In the U.S it won't surprise you to know that American odds are most commonly used, while the decimal odds format is the most popular one around the world, and in the UK odds are commonly presented as fractions.

Why do bookmakers constantly change their odds?

Bookmakers need to change odds constantly as there is always new information that indicates that the game might not go in the anticipated direction. When this happens it will be illogical for the odds to remain the same.

How to find the best betting odds for a sports event?

Before placing a bet on any event you should use a comparator/checker. This is a site that will be able to scan through all bookmakers and tell you the odds that are available for the event you want to bet on. This way you can always bet with the best odds available on the market.

How are betting odds determined?

betting odds are determined by the likelihood of an outcome happening. If the bookmakers with all the information they have available deem an event as likely to happen then the odds will be reflective of this. Therefore if there are only two outcomes from an event there will be effectively a favorite and an opponent in which you will receive more money if you bet on them.

To summarise, It is essential that you know all about sports betting odds before you place a wager. If you bet purely on the outcomes you will not have success when betting and this is what this site is all about. You might prove to be right on any given occasion but you need to ask yourself if you win the bet more times than the odds suggest. If the answer is yes then you are on to a winner, if the answer is no then you should deem it to be a bad bet regardless of the outcome.