Understanding Betting Odds: Getting Started

May 15, 2017 5 min to read

In many hobbies and professions, many individuals want to be at the top before they have covered and fully understood the basics.

For this reason, many individuals fail at reaching their goals as they do not have the foundation to properly build advanced skills and methods on.

The lack of understanding of basics leads to misconceptions on what it takes to become great in a field, which will ultimately lead to demise.

Sports betting is no exception. Understanding the basics of the options you have available is fundamental if you wish to be successful.

The sports betting industry has changed greatly throughout the year since moving online, with “change” being constant and inevitable. With these changes, comes the need for a constant backbone which positions yourself to embrace these changes.

The purpose of the article is to provide a guide to understanding betting odds, a fundamental sector in the betting industry.

After reading this article, you will have a deep understanding of what are odds and how they affect your betting activity.

If you chose to pursue a long-term venture in sports betting, this article would help you for many days to come.

A Guide To Understanding Betting Odds: The Basics

Understanding Betting OddsOdds are a representation of the perceived probability of an event occurring. I say ‘perceived’ as these prospects are created based on what masses people think, in reality, these probabilities are impossible to quantify.

These odds are multipliers and will decide the amount of profit that will be paid to the winning customer. For example, if you place a stake of 10 on odds of 2.0, you will win 20.

In most cases, there will be two odds offered on a particular event. One for the event taking place and the other one against the odds taking place. Sometimes you will have odds for the event finishing draw, depends on the sport.

The amounts will differ virtually all the time, in the instance that the pair of odds are identical this is known as even money. This means you will win the equivalent to your stake in profits.

The 3 Different Types Of Odds

Like most things, there are different formats of which a service may be provided in. Sports betting is no different.

Mainly, there are three formats used by all sports bookmakers. These are the three main types of odds: Decimal, Moneyline and Fractional.

All online bookmakers give you the choice to switch between them, but it is useful to know all three of them.


This is the most common used format used by betting sites globally, with certain exceptions in certain countries such as America.

The reason why it is so popular is that it is the most straightforward format out of the three as it requires no background on the subject to understand.

Decimal odds are shown to two decimal places, and the way the calculation works is that you multiply the odds given to your stake placed.

For example, if you place a stake of 5.00 and the odds are 1.50, you win 7.50.


This format is also known as Moneyline, and they are used primarily in the United States. These odds are more complicated to understand, but you will have no problem in doing so.

The way the odds are set up is that they can either be positive or negative, both with a different meaning from one another.

When the odds are positive, you are presented with a number that shows the punter how much they would win in profits if they place a stake of $100.

For example, if you are presented with odds of +130, it means if you place $100 you will win another $130 in profit.

When you are presented with negative odds, the odds provided are showing the punter how much they would need to place to win $100. For example, if the odds provided are -150, you need to place a stake of $150 to win $100.


This format is the most common used type in the United Kingdom, and is particularly popular amongst horse racing fanatics.

This is the most ‘complicated’ format but do not be overwhelmed, it is more than doable.

The process to calculate the value of your odds are as follows; calculate the total value of your fraction and plus one. For example, 5/2 is equal to 2.5 and then you plus one resulting in 3.5 total value.

When the fraction given is 1/1 that is evens, equivalent to decimal odds of 2.0.

Final Words

The above paragraphs should provide a guide to understanding betting odds that are currently available in the sports betting industry today.

An important aspect to remember with all this is that there is a big difference between probability and implied probability.

Probability is a statistic based on facts and are entirely accurate on how likely the outcome actually is. Implied probability is a statistic based on perception, these odds are not real.

These odds are based on many factors, all artificial and none are scientific.

There are two sides to this. Firstly, this means there are great opportunities to capitalise from and make profits as they based on human perception, therefore resulting in an illogical value in certain occasions.

Lastly, be careful on basing significant resources on odds that are perceived as likely. Again, this is not an accurate statistic so do not base life-changing amounts on these odds.

Thanks for reading our guide to understanding betting odds.

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Author photo


Adam is long time Manchester United fan but admits that he has a few international favourite teams which he looks forward to watching and betting on for international events like the World Cup


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