There are three types of odds common to sports betting: fraction, decimal and American. The three odds are just three different mathematical ways of expressing the same thing. Any sports odds can be translated into any one of the three odds.
Payouts are determined based on the odds. The payout will be higher or lower based on how high or low the odds were on the bet you made.
You can make odds on anything. They aren’t exclusive to sports betting. Sports betting is just one of the most common uses of odds. To understand odds better, you can look at how they’re used in all kinds of other fields.
How odds work
The less likely the odds of something happening, the more money you can win.
Keep that in mind when placing bets. While it may be tempting to make safer bets, you can win a lot more by placing longer bets.
Long shots are the side of the bet less likely to win. Favorites are the side more likely to win. Stakes are how much you put into a bet.
Decimal odds are also known as European odds. Many consider decimal odds to be easier to understand.
Decimal odds are easier to calculate because the stake is already included in the calculation. This means your stake, the money that you placed the bet with, is already added in when you perform the calculation. Decimal odds have one less step than fractional odds.
The return is how much you will receive back after winning a decimal odd bet. You can calculate the return with the following formula:
Total return = stake * decimal odd number.
An example of decimal odds
Here are the odds on three presidential candidates from earlier in the year:
- Donald Trump: 3.00
- Bernie Sanders: 11.00
- Elizabeth Warren: 13.00
So if you bet $100 on Donald Trump to win, your total return would be the following:
$100 * 3.00 = $300.
The higher the decimal odds are, the more money you can win by betting on them. In the above example, you would win $13 for every $1 you bet on Elizabeth Warren to win.
While decimal odds are easier to calculate than fractional odds, they do have some downsides. Decimal odds are harder to understand if you are used to reading fractional odds.
Some people struggle to understand decimal odds because they’re just one number. They are worth using though because it’s easier to calculate the total return with them.
Fractional odds are also known as British odds. They are written with a slash between the two numbers and announced with the following format “first number” to “second number.”
For example, you might read a fractional odd as 6/1. Hearing that same fractional odd from a bookie would sound like “six to one.” These are the two most common ways you’ll hear fractional odds referred to.
So if you win on these odds, you would win $6 for every $1 you put in. Even though you would win $6, you would receive $7 back. You would receive the $1 you bet in addition to the $6 you won.
Fractional odds can be more complicated to calculate.
An example of fractional odds
Here’s an example: the Denver Broncos have 7/4 odds to win the Super Bowl. To calculate your winnings, you would multiply how much you put in by the numerator then divide it by the denominator.
For example, you could bet $10 on 7/4 odds. If you win, you would calculate your winnings like this:
10 * 7 / 4.
So your winnings would be $17.50. You would also receive the $10 back you put down in the first place. So your total would be $27.50.
Like all betting, the higher the odds are, the more you can win. Sports betting in Colorado is a balancing act of picking underdogs to win enough money without picking too long of odds.
American, or moneyline, odds
Last comes American, otherwise known as moneyline, odds. As their name implies, American odds are more popular in America.
They are calculated with a base number of +100. A number higher than +100 indicates that the team is a long shot to win or is the underdog. Betting on a +600 side with $100 would win you $600 profit plus your original $100. The reason you win so much is that the chances of this team winning are low.
American odds can also include negative numbers.
If a side has odds of -600, the bettor would have to bet $600 to win $100. Favorites to win will have negative odds. Bettors have to take on a lot more risk for much less reward if they are betting on the favorite.
If the odds were -1,000, the bettor would have to put down $1,000 to have the chance to win $100. This also means the bettor could lose $1,000 and only have the chance to win $100. This is an extreme example, as a -1,000 would be an extreme favorite.
American odds are good because they all relate to $100 and can show how much you would have to bet on a favorite to win $100 or how much you stand to win from a $100 bet on an underdog.
American odds have disadvantages too. It’s harder to calculate the total payout of a moneyline odd compared to a decimal odd.
The three different common types of odds each have their own way of paying out. Decimal is probably the easiest to calculate and can be done by anyone with a calculator. Simply multiply the stake by the decimal odds.
Fractional odds are the next easiest. Multiply the stake by the fraction odds, then add the stake in. Fractional odds require another step to calculate the payout but are still easier than American odds.
American odds are the most difficult to calculate. We recommend that you use an odds calculator for these.