If you are new to the world of sports betting, it may seem confusing at first not knowing if the odds (prices) are in your favor. And that’s where we come in, because with some understanding of how it all works, the different markets, perusing through Profitsquad recommendations on the best sites to place your bet and a few tips, you will be well on your way to having fun at your preferred licensed US sportsbook.
Table of Contents
All Types Of Odds
Depending on where you live and what sportsbook you use, you may encounter three main types of odds – Money Line (US), Fractional (British) and Decimal (European).
These are simply different ways of giving punters the same odds. Fortunately, most online sportsbooks offer you the option to choose your preferred odds layout so there is usually no need to understand all three. However, it is always a good idea to have a basic knowledge of them all.
American Money Line odds | Fractional odds | Decimal odds |
These are either negative or positive. They will either indicate how much you need to bet to win $100 (negative), or how much you would win if you bet $100 (positive) | These are a ratio of how much you stake to how much you win from the stake | Indicate how much you will win for every $1 you bet. |
However, we will look at these in more depth further down.
American Money Line Odds
These are the most common types you will come across in a US sportsbook. They are either positive (+) or negative (-). The favorite to win will be given negative odds, which is how much you need to wager to win $100. The underdogs will be given positive. Which is how much you will win if you wager $100.
Whether it is positive or negative, you will also get your stake back on top of the winnings.
Example
If you bet $100 on +300, you would get a return of $300 winnings + your original $100 stake = $400.
The bigger the difference between the odds, the bigger the difference between the chances of the teams winning and losing. So, let’s look at an NFL example; Imagine the Kansas City Chiefs are taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers – and they are given these odds:
- Pittsburgh Steelers +570
- Kansas City Chiefs – 745
The sportsbook is offering odds of +570 on the Steelers winning – which shows that they believe the Steelers to be the strong underdog in this match – with only around a 15% chance of winning.
Example
If you do choose to bet $100 on them, despite this, then you would win $570 and get your $100 stake returned - meaning a payout of $670
Example
To win $100, you would need to wager $745. If they do win, you would get $100 in winnings plus your initial stake of $745 - giving you a payout of $845.
- Negative: Ultimately, if a sports team or player is given negative odds, they are deemed to be the favorite to win – and the higher the number, the stronger favorites they are considered to be. However, it also means that you must risk a much larger stake to get a $100 win.
- Positive: If the player or team is the underdog, they will be given positive odds, which is how much you get for a $100 stake. The higher the number is, the bigger your potential payout will be – but the less likely it is that you will win.
Pick ‘Em Games
A Pick ‘Em game is one that has no clear favorite or underdog – essentially both teams are considered to have an equal chance of winning. You will be able to see one of these in two ways:
- They have identical Money Line prices and both teams are listed as -110.
- If looking at spread bets (which we will look at next), instead of -3 or +2.5, there are the two letters PK
So, a Pick ‘Em could look as follows:
- Team X (-110) vs Team Y (-110)
- Team X (PK) – 110 vs Team Y (PK) -110
Spread Bets
As we touched upon earlier – a common way to wager on the NBA, MLB & another sports in the US is spread betting. This is the perfect type for those wanting to wager on an underdog or strong favorite.
In our previous example, the price put on the Steelers was very generous but little chance of winning, making it an unwise choice of bet. Whereas the Chiefs were clearly the most likely to win, but you had to wager so much to win $100, it wasn’t really worth the risk.
As such, the best way to stake on one of these teams is by making a spread bet. So, the original odds would be:
- Pittsburgh Steelers (+570) vs Kansas City Chiefs (-745)
However, a spread bet might look as follows:
- Pittsburgh Steelers +6 (+150) vs Kansas City Chiefs -6 (-175)
This makes the game look much more attractive to gamble on – for both sides.
Spread betting (or betting against the spread) is the best way to get value from any wager where there is a clear underdog and favorite.
Example
If you bet $100 on the Steelers you win $150 - but you will win as long as they don’t lose by 7 or more points. If you bet on the Chiefs, you will only need to wager $175 on them to win $100 - but for you to win they will need to win by 7 or more.
Spread betting (or betting against the spread) is the best way to get value from any wager where there is a clear underdog and favorite.
Vegas Odds
Some sportsbooks also use Vegas odds. American Money Line odds are used, plus the point spread and the total number of points combined that the sportsbook thinks the teams will score. The bettor can then stake on ‘over’ or ‘under’ the sportsbook’s score, indicating what they think the total difference in points scored will be.
How American Money Line Odds Correlate With Wins?
Ultimately, odds are there to indicate exactly how much you will win if you wager a certain amount of money. Based on what the bookmaker knows of the sport, event, and competitors, it will payout what it believes is fair based on your chance of winning. You will be able to see what the odds are for that game as well as how much you would win for a successful stake.
Example
For example, Sportsbooks might price the Steelers winning against the Chiefs at +600. So, you can see that if you bet $100 on them to win, you would get $600
However, given that it is a positive number, you will also see that they are considered the underdogs.
Don’t forget that it is a bookmaker – and needs to make a profit, so it won’t usually give you a price that completely represents the outcome of the bet because it wants to make money. This is where the concept of ‘Vig’ or ‘Juice’ is introduced.
Vig - How It Works?
Vig (Vigorish or Juice as it is often called), is essentially the bookmaker’s cut. It is a payment that they get for taking your bet. However, there is no set Vig – and it can vary between various US sportsbooks, sports, or bets. Essentially, the lower the Vig, the better.
Imagine it this way. If we took a completely 50/50 event, such as pulling a black card or red card from a deck of cards (no jokers included), you would expect a bet to be paid out as evens (meaning you have exactly the same amount of chance as winning or losing), which would be double your money.
However, this isn’t what you will get at a sportsbook because of the Vig. Instead of giving you odds of +100 (which means you bet $100 to get $100), they will usually put such a bet at -110, which means that to win $100, you would need to wager $110.
Example
In that case, if you did make a $100 bet at the given price of -110, then you would end up winning $90.91
Given the real probability should mean you get a payout of $100 for winning, this means that if you do win, you are out of pocket by $9.09 – and that is the sports betting site’s Vig.
The Chalk
In sports betting, you might come across the term ‘chalk’. This simply refers to the team that is favorite according to the betting odds. If a team is said to be ‘big chalk’, then they are the heavy favorites to win. However, if they are a ‘small chalk’, then they are the slight favorites.
However, there isn’t one clear, set number that determines whether a team is a big or small chalk. However, once you start to become more confident in sports betting, it will start to be clearer to you what a big chalk or small chalk is by your own standards.
Betting Odds: Implied Probability and Value Bets
Aside from telling you what you will win if you put money on a bet, the odds also indicate the implied probability of an event happening.
If you want to take your understanding of exactly how they work to the next level and become more serious about betting then you need to turn those odds into implied probabilities. If you know a lot about your sport and the two teams playing, your judgement might mean that your chosen team has a 70% chance of winning.
However, the implied probability of the sportsbook price suggests that they have a 55% chance of winning, in this situation it would give you the edge – and it would be considered a value bet. However, if their odds suggest an implied probability of 80% chance then this would not be a good value bet.
To work out the implied probability from the odds, you will need to be able to do a bit of math. However, it’s an equation worth learning as the most successful bettors only place their money on value bets – a bet where the implied probability of the odds is lower than what you believe the actual probability is.
Example
For favorites with Money Line odds, you work it out as follows:
- Odds / (Odds + 100) x 100 = The Implied Probability
- So, if Team X has been priced at -130 (favorites):
- 130 / 230 x 100 = 56.52% is the implied probability of the team winning
For underdogs with Money Line odds, it is worked out slightly differently:
- 100 / (Odds + 100) x 100 = The Implied Probability
- So, if Team Y has been priced at +125 (underdogs)
- 100 / 225) x 100 = 44.44% is the implied probability of the team winning.
Hopefully, that has covered the basics of how Money Line works. However, there may be times when you are required to understand British fractional and European decimal formats work.
British Fractional Odds
The British fraction format is generally considered to be the more traditional of all odds formats and you will find this mainly at UK and Irish bookmakers. These are represented as fractions using a slash (/).
So, if you stake on a team that was given odds of 4/1 to win, it will pay out $4 for every $1 you stake plus your original $1 stake back. So, effectively, the numbers in that fraction are simply the ratio of how much you win to how much you bet.
The equation for working it out is as follows:
● Profit = Stake x Odds
Example
Using the above example, if you were to wager $10 on a team with odds of 4/1, then you would receive $40 in winnings, plus your original $10 stake returning giving you a total payout of $50.
Thus, if we are looking at odds for the winner of the 2023 Super Bowl, then the three favorites may be given the following prices:
- Buffalo Bills: 14/5
- Kansas City Chiefs: 8/2
- Philadelphia Eagles: 6/1
We can easily see that the Buffalo Bills are the favorites – with the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles considered by bookies to be somewhat less likely to win.
As such, for every $5 you wager on the Buffalo Bills, you would win $14. For every $2 you stake on the Kansas City Chiefs you would win $8 and for every $1 you bet on the Philadelphia Eagles, you would win $6.
As you can see, the profit increases as the chance of the team winning decreases and, in all the above instances, you would also receive your initial $50 stake back on top of the wins.
Example
Using this example, if you made a $50 bet on Buffalo Bills, you would earn a profit of $140 ($50 x 14/5).
If you bet $50 on the Kansas City Chiefs, then you would make a $200 profit on your wager:
($50 x 8/2) = $200
And if you stake $50 on the Philadelphia Eagles at 6/1, then you would make a profit on your bet of $300 ($50 x 6/1) = $300
As you can see, the profit increases as the chance of the team winning decreases and, in all the above instances, you would also receive your initial $50 stake back on top of the wins.
European Decimal Odds
The European decimal format is commonly found across Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and these are pretty easy to work out and understand. With fractional odds, you may need to do a bit of math to understand which team is the favorite, but with decimal, you can see straight away.
The number of the decimal represents how much you will win for every $1 you stake. In addition, they represent your total payout and not just the profit you get – so they show you your profit plus stake returned. This makes the calculations a lot easier for newer punters.
So, if you see the decimal odds, you can work out your total return as follows:
- Total return = Stake x Odds.
Using the above example and the top two favorites to win the 2023 Super Bowl, in decimal odds, it might be represented as follows:
- Buffalo Bills: 3.8
- Kansas City Chiefs: 5.0
These decimals represent how much you would win for every $1 you wager.
Example
If you bet $100 on the Buffalo Bills to in, your total payout (profit plus stake) would be:
100 x 3.8 = $380, giving you a profit of $280 plus your $100 stake.
If you bet that $100 on the Kansas City Chiefs, then you would receive a total return as follows:
100 x 5.0 = $500, giving you a $400 profit plus your original $100 stake
Whether or not these predictions are accurate will only be seen when the Super Bowl plays out. Ultimately, the higher your total payout is, the riskier your bet is and the less chance you have of winning (according to the bookmaker)
If you do want to become a big player in the world of sports betting, then you will need to be able to understand and work out all the main types of betting odds. Being familiar with them and how they work in all the major formats will not only make you a more successful bettor, but also a more confident one as well.
Understanding Betting Odds
Remember, being good at betting is about knowing whether those prices represent value. If the implied probability of your odds is higher than what you think the actual probability of an event happening is, then that bet is simply not worth your time and money, so simply look for a better one.
So, before making a wager, make sure you compare prices from different bookmakers to get the best ones, work out the implied probability, decide if it offers value, choose how much you want to bet and sit back and wait for the results. You’ll be making profits in no time!
FAQs
Betting odds are given by bookmakers that should represent the chance of a particular event happening and how much you will win if you make a successful wager on that particular outcome. There are three main types of odds, US Money Line, British Fractional and European Decimal.
If a team has been given negative Money Line odds, such as -150, then this implies that the team is the favorite to win. You will get a lower payout and profit than betting on a team that has positive Money Line odds.
It is possible, but this is usually the case if you make multiple wagers on the one event and the most likely event wins. The profit you end up getting from that win may not be enough to cover the money you spent on the other wagers.
This very much depends on what sport or event you are betting on. Some bookmakers offer generous odds on one sport but aren’t as good for others. It is always a good idea to register with a couple of different bookmakers so you can compare odds before making your wager to make sure you get the best value.