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understand betting odds
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п»їHow to Understand Sports Betting Odds.
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As more and more states legalize sports betting in the U.S., inevitably more people will be drawn to sports betting. If you are a novice sports bettor, a sportsbook’s odds board or homepage on a mobile app may look like complete gibberish.
In this article, we will get you caught up on all the basic terminology you need to know. In addition, we will use this terminology to explain how to read what you see on an odds board and how to apply this knowledge towards your wagers.
Example of a Game on an Odds Board.
This is an example of an NFL game between the Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs that once appeared on a sportsbook’s odds board. You will notice the following categories of terms: rotation numbers, point spread, over/under, and moneylines. Let’s take a look at each term individually.
Rotation Numbers.
Rotation numbers are commonly used at in-person sportsbooks. These numbers are provided for bettors to easily reference their bets when approaching the cashier.
Suppose a bettor wanted to wager on the Cowboys spread. They would approach the cashier and say “I will take number 403, Cowboys -8 for [whatever the bet amount].” The cashier would then have the proposed bet on a screen for the bettor to look at, along with the possible payout. If the bettor was satisfied with the bet, the bet is finalized once the bettor hands the cashier their money.
Telling a cashier the rotation number of a bet is not absolutely mandatory. One could simply say “I’ll take the Cowboys -8” and the cashier will likely know that the customer is referring to an NFL point spread. However, one cannot assume the cashier is knowledgeable about every sport, so telling the cashier the rotation number makes their job easier.
Point Spreads.
Over/unders are also referred to as “totals” in the sports betting world. With over/unders, one is not betting on how much one team will win or lose by. Instead, an over/under is a wager on how many points will be scored.
Those who bet on the “over 42.5” think the Cowboys and Chiefs will combine to score more than 42.5 points. Those who bet the “under 42.5” think the two teams will combine to score less than 42.5. Notice how with this particular line, there can be no “push” since there cannot be a half-point scored.
Similar to point spreads, a moneyline favorite can be identified with a minus sign next to the number while the underdog will have a plus. With a moneyline bet, one is simply betting who will win the game regardless of the margin of victory.
The Cowboys have a moneyline of -400. This fact introduces another important sports term called the “vig.” Those who bet the “Cowboys moneyline” would need to wager $400 to return a profit of $100. That same ratio is applied to all betting amounts, so a $100 bet on the Cowboys moneyline would net a $25 profit.
Vigs are Everywhere.
If the math to figure out how a vig of -110 works is too difficult, the rule of thumb is that sportsbooks take 10% of the winnings of every bet. However, one does not have to be a mathematical expert to be a successful sports gambler. Remember, a cashier at a sportsbook will always show you what you stand to win before you finalize your bet.
Mike Spector is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeSpector01 .

How to Read Odds.
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Now that sports betting is legal in many states, most new bettors need to learn how to read odds and how to actually bet on sports.
Plus, you will need to learn about the different types of odds out there. So, keep reading to learn about odds and how to understand them.
What are Betting Odds?
So, the first question to be answered is: just what are betting odds? And, how are odds used to place wagers? These are the two most important factors when using odds to determine how to place your bets.
Betting odds represent the probability of a specific outcome. And, odds show the profit, or return, that you can get if your bet wins. This likelihood of a certain outcome is additionally known as the implied probability .
You need to know what implied probability is if you are going to bet on sports. Then, you can make an informed bet if the probability of an event occurring is larger than a predetermined implied probability.
Implied Probability.
Simply put, converting betting odds into probability is the implied probability . When sportsbooks set the odds on a bet, they first determine the chance of winning that bet. This way, a bookmaker hopes to avoid paying out too much in order to still make a profit.
The Kinds of Odds.
Hopefully, you are following along. Any time you look at sports betting sites, you’ll see odds listed. But, they may not be the same type of odds from sportsbook to sportsbook.
And, that is because there are multiple kinds of accepted odds on sportsbooks. The three most common odds formats are:
Fractional odds Decimal odds American odds.
So, it is really imperative to learn how to read all three kinds of odds. Then, you can understand most of the odds you will find on sportsbooks worldwide. And that will help you place more informed bets no matter the odds!
Fractional Odds Explained.
You will most likely find fractional odds in Europe, not the U.S. Fractional odds are most common in the UK in connection with betting on horse races. These odds are used to demonstrate that a bettor will get their winnings proportional to their wager/stake.
In order to make things more clear, here’s an example to fully show how fractional odds work in practice. Assume the Yankees have fractional odds of 5/2. Put plainly, with each $2 that is bet, a profit of $5 is possible.
To figure the math our for yourself, use this formula:
Profit = (Stake/Denominator) x Numerator.
So, if the stake is $50, then P = (50/2) x 5.
Fractional odds can be a bit complicated to understand compared to other kinds of commonly used odds. But, since they are not the preferred choice in America, you will not encounter them often. However, it is still good to know how they work.
Decimal Odds Explained.
A widely used type of odds worldwide is decimal odds. If you are familiar with a variety of sportsbooks, you will have encountered decimal odds. So, here is an in-depth explanation of what decimal odds mean.
Boiled down, decimal odds illustrate what a bettor would receive in profits for a one-dollar wager. But, it is a little more complicated than it sounds. Below, you will find an example used to explain exactly how decimal odds work.
In this example, the New York Yankees have 2.0 odds to win against the Boston Red Sox. So, for every $1 that is bet on them to win, a bettor will get $2 in profits. That means the bettor will not only get back the $1 stake but also $1 in profits.
For you to be able to figure it out mathematically for yourself, use the equation below.
Profit = (Stake x Odds) – Stake.
If we use the example from above with a $50 stake, that means:
P = (50 x 2) – 50 P = 100 – 50 Profit = $50.
Decimal odds are not all that complicated when it comes down to it. The formula is maybe the easiest to do on your own. Hopefully, you will be an expert at understanding decimal odds from now on!
American Odds Explained.
American odds will also sometimes be referred to as moneyline odds. In the US, naturally, American odds are the most widely used types of odds for sportsbooks. You will see them as either positive or negative odds.
It is easiest to understand American odds if you have an example. So, here is an illustration of American odds in action:
Positive odds represent the profit a bettor will potentially receive if they bet $100 . That means if they placed a wager of $50 on the Red Sox to be the winners, the profit the bettor would get if the Sox win is $75.
Negative odds numerically represent what a bettor would need to bet to win a profit of $100. That means if we use the example from above, they would have to wager $120. Plus, the New York Yankees need to win for the bettor to win a profit of $100.
American odds are very easy to understand when broken down like that. Plus, you will find these odds in most US sportsbooks. So, you should now be able to read most sportsbooks and understand their odds.
How to Figure Out Implied Probability.
Now, you have learned how to understand the most popular kinds of odds. But, that is not all you need to know to place the best bets possible. If you figure out the implied probability of an event, you can place your best bets.
Figuring out the implied probability using positive American odds is pretty simple. To demonstrate this, we will use the same numbers and teams from above. This is how you would calculate the positive odds implied probability:
Implied Probability for Positive Odds.
So, the implied probability that the Boston Red Sox will win is .4 or 40%. Thus, the bookmakers for the sportsbooks will think the Red Sox have a 40% chance of beating the Yankees. You can use these odds to figure out what you want to bet on and how much.
Implied Probability for Negative Odds.
Now, you need to learn how to calculate implied probability when it comes to negative American odds. Luckily, it is as easy as it is for positive odds. We will use the same numbers from the moneyline example. So, the Yankees have -120 odds in this example.
Implied Probability = Negative Odds/(Negative Odds – 100) IP = -120/(-120 – 100) IP = -120/-220 Implied Probability = .5454.
That gives us an implied probability of .5454 or 54.54%. So, the New York Yankees will have a 54.54% chance of being the winners of the game against the Red Sox.
Calculators for Betting Odds.
Well, now that you know the most common odds that are used, you can calculate them yourself. But it always makes sense to check your math using a betting odds calculator. This is to double-check that you have done it correctly.
You do not want to place bets with the wrong odds. Obviously, you want to place the best bet possible. A betting odds calculator can help you make sure you are using the right facts.
Final Tips on How to Read Odds.
So, now that you know how to read and calculate the most popular odds, you should be ready to place your bets. Knowing how to read odds makes it so you can place the most informed bets. Likewise, you will have a better chance of having your bet pay off. Remember, however, that no bet is a sure thing .
And, now that you can calculate your own odds, compare multiple sportsbooks’ odds . Some may have different odds for the same event. But, you can still get a general feel for what the odds are for each outcome.
Finally, now that you are an odds expert, you can calculate implied probability. Implied probability is a great tool for bettors. So, you can be the best at placing bets and hopefully win!

How to Read Odds.
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If you bet on sporting events, you must be able to read odds and understand what they mean. Furthermore, you need to quickly calculate the potential winnings for different bets, especially if the odds are changing while the event unfolds. Odds tell you the likelihood that an event will occur (a team wins, a boxer makes it a certain round) and how much will be paid out if you win. There are, however, multiple ways to convey this information.

A Simple Explanation: How to Read Sports Betting Odds.
Understanding the world of online betting can be a daunting task for the sports betting novice. You’re met with a wall of numbers, dots and dashes before you even get started.
The key to enjoyable betting is in knowing how to read the odds. We’ll break it all down into manageable chunks, covering the different bets and odds, and how to read them.
What Are Odds?
Before we get started, let’s take a look at what odds actually are. Odds are a set of numbers which indicate the likelihood of an event taking place. In gambling terms, the odds aren’t a true representation of probability, but show the ratio between the amount bet and the payout based on the probability calculated by the bookmakers.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get down to business.
The Different Types of Odds.
The first thing you’ll need to be aware of is the three most common types of odds in sports wagering:
Moneyline Point spreads Over/under betting.
What do these terms mean, exactly?
The Moneyline.
The moneyline wager is perhaps the simplest bet to understand. It’s a straightforward bet on who you think is going to win the game, no matter the final points or score margins.
What Do the Numbers Mean?
Essentially, these odds show how much your profit will be based on the amount you wager. Moneyline wagers have odds attached to both the favorite and the underdog.
Note: the odds are given in the American format. We’ll explain that in more detail later.
Point Spreads.
Usually in any game, one team is better than the other, giving us the terms favorite and underdogs in the first place.
If you were to just bet on the favorite each time, you could take your money and go, but this doesn’t make for a very exciting betting experience, nor would it be very profitable for the online bookmakers. The point spread makes things more interesting for bettors, as well as making a profit for the bookies.
Essentially, the point spread is a handicap given by the bookmakers to bring teams to an equal footing, in that it generates interest in both teams from bettors. With the point spread odds, you’ll bet on the score difference between the two teams.
Betting on Team B would win you your bet if the team wins the game, OR if it loses by less than six points.
If you would like to learn more, be sure to read our article explaining point spread betting.
Over/ Under.
If you are having trouble deciding who is likely to win a game, then an over/under bet might be the way to go. Sometimes referred to as ‘totals’ betting, over/under odds are a bet on the total combined score in a game.
It doesn’t matter who wins or loses. Instead, the bet depends on whether the combined amount is over or under a predetermined number set by the bookmaker.
If you see a bet written as 45.5 o/u , for example, this means that the bookmakers have calculated the possibility of the combined scores of the two teams as being around 45.5. The odds will often be with half points, in order to prevent what is called a ‘push’ or tie.
All you have to do is decide whether the combined scores will total over that mark, or under it. How much you are set to win from each of these bets will be decided by the bookmaker’s odds, and how much money you want to wager (more on this later).
How to Read Odds.
Now that you know the basic betting forms, you will notice that the odds given aren’t all written in the same way. Again, there are three main formats:
This is where your head may start to hurt, but let’s try to keep it simple.
American Odds.
American odds are also used with the point spread bets, for example:
So while the point spread doesn’t change the odds given for each result, it allows the bookmakers to protect their margin or ‘juice’.
In another article, we explain how you can find out more about how bookmakers operate and how they calculate their odds.
Decimal Odds.
Decimal odds are sometimes referred to as “European odds” and are used throughout Europe, Australia and Canada. If you’re interested in betting on international sports, it’s a good idea to know how they work.
Luckily, they’re very straightforward and easy to calculate. All you have to do is multiply your wager by the odds to find out your potential winnings.
For example, if you bet $100 on a team winning, with odds at 1.82, then your potential total amount received is $182. Simple.
Fractional Odds.
Fractional odds are one of the oldest forms of odds in sports gambling and are more popular in the UK market. Basically fractional odds show you how much you are set to win relative to how much you put in. Again, we’ll keep this simple with an easy example. Say you make a bet of $5 on Team A to win with the odds of 2/1.
This translates as:
So your bet of $5 at 2/1 odds gives you a return of $15 ($5 wagered x 2 plus the original stake of $5).
Need a Calculator Yet?
It’s a good idea to have a basic understanding of how to recognize and read each of the odds formulas, but fortunately, there are also a number of online odds converters and calculators that will do the hard work for you quickly and easily.
This comes in very handy especially when you have to recalculate when the odds change.
Why Do Odds Change?
Between the time when the betting lines open and the game starts, you’re likely to see some change in the betting odds, especially in the last few minutes. Why? There are a few reasons.
Protecting Profit.
Firstly, the bookmakers may change the odds to protect their profit. Since they’ve calculated the odds carefully to give both teams equal interest, making sure they are set to gain a profit either way, if one team is getting a clear majority of the bets, then they will change the odds to make the less favored team’s odds more favorable.
Insider Info.
Betting websites may change their odds as information comes to light. For example, when a team line-up is published before a game and the star players aren’t making an appearance, or perhaps news of injuries or training issues come out. These will all have an effect on the betting odds offered.
Sharp Bettors.
Another reason for movement on the betting line will be the sharp bettors, those professional players who may hold off to the last minute and bet against the public opinion. They are usually big-money players and their wager can be enough to move the lines.
Knowing how to use line movement to your advantage takes time and experience, but you can get a head start with our handy guide to understanding line movement.
Ready to Play.
Now that you have the basic building blocks required to understand sports betting odds, you’re ready to go. All that’s left for you to do is find the right sportsbook for you.
This can be another learning curve, but don’t worry, we’re here to help you. Just follow the link to get some great tips on how to choose the best online bookmaker.

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