Understanding betting odds is absolutely essential if you are going to bet on anything online.  100% of the bets you make will have odds associated to them so if you don’t understand how to read odds you shouldn’t be betting online.

This page will look at each of the different odds formats you may run into when placing bets online, including American odds, decimal odds and fractional odds.  Each of these odds formats are used by different sportsbooks or for types of bets so its important that you understand each one individually.

American Odds

American odds are the most common form of betting odds used in North America.  These are odds are easy to look at and know how much you must risk to get a specific return.  Let’s first look at an example and explain from there:

New York Rangers +140
Ottawa Senators -160

Here is a regular season hockey game where the Sens are hosting the Rangers.

In this example the Sens are the favorites and you must risk $160 to win $100 betting on the Senators.  The (-) indicates that you must risk this amount to win $100.

Betting on the Rangers you must risk $100 to win $140.  The (+) indicates that this is the amount you will win when you bet $100.

It’s important to remember that the American odds format looks at the amount you will win, rather than the total payout amount, which is what the decimal odds format finds.

Decimal Odds

Decimal odds are most common in Europe and in my opinion this is the easiest odds format to understand.  It is also easy to figure out how much you will win from any stake amount with a simple calculation.

New York Rangers 2.40
Ottawa Senators 1.625

To find your payout you simply multiply your bet by the decimal odds.  So if I bet $100 on the Rangers I can expect a $240 payout ($100 x 2.40).  You can then subtract your bet to find your winnings ($240 – $100 = $140 winnings).

I find decimal odds especially easy when working with favorites (under 2.0 odds) because you can quickly find your payout for the amount you risked instead of working backwards like with American odds.  A $100 bet on the Senators would payout $162.50, for a winnings of $62.50.

Fractional Odds

Fractional odds are most common when betting futures or other bets where there are several possible outcomes.  If we were looking at the Sens vs Rangers game again the odds would be as follows:

New York Rangers 7/5
Ottawa Senators 5/8

The numerator (first number) is how much you will win by betting the second number (denominator).  So a $5 bet on the Rangers would win $7.

I like using fractional odds when talking about the bets I make.  It sounds a lot better to say I bet on Anderson Silva at 1/3 than 1.3333 or I took Sonnen at 3/1 instead of +300 or 4.00.

I hope this helps you understand what payouts and winnings you should expect when placing your bets online.  If you have any further questions drop me a line.