Sports Betting Odds Terms and Formats Explained

betting odds format guide

To understand how gambling works you must learn and understand what “Odds” are and how they work. Punters use “Odds” to calculate how much they can win if they place a bet. “Odds” are the numbers that are always displayed next to, or under, the player or team that is participating in the event. Punters and bookmakers sometimes also use the word “price” to refer to the “odds”. For example, “That’s a good price” = “Those are good odds.”

The punter then uses the “price” or “odds” to calculate how much they will win if they bet a set amount of money. Different bookmakers use different ways to display or show their “Odds”. There are three systems for showing odds depending on which country the bookmaker operates. Some bookmakers offer the punter a choice on how the odds are displayed on the website so you can often choose the system you prefer.

Three types of odds formats – Fractional, Decimal and American

The three types are:

Fractional – used in the U.K.
Decimal – used in Europe, Canada and Australia
American – used in the U.S.

and look like this:

To win the F.A. Cup
Team UK Decimal US
Man City 1/3 1.33 -300
Chelsea 1/1 2.0 +100
Man Utd 3/1 4.0 +300

So how do we calculate how much we can win using these numbers?

To calculate U.K. odds

The number on the left tells you how much money you will win if you bet the number on the right.
Man Utd’s odds are 3/1 (spoken as 3 “to” 1) so if you bet the number on the right “1” then you will win “3”.
Bookmakers always refund your original stake on a winning bet so you would win “3” and get your stake “1” back with your winnings.

A winning bet of $100 at 3/1 = ($100 x 3) + $100 = Win $300 + $100 stake = $400 returned to you in total.

To calculate decimal odds

This is the simplest method to calculate your winnings. You simply multiply your stake to the decimal.
Man Utd’s odds are 4.0 so if you bet “1” you will get “4” back including your stake.

A winning bet of $100 at 4.0 = $100 x 4.0 = $400 returned (includes your stake)

To calculate American odds

As you can see the Americans use a +/- next to the number.

When you see a + next to a number = how much you will win if you bet $100
So if you bet on Man Utd, a bet of $100 will win you $300 (+$100 stake) = $400.

When you see a – next to a number = how much you need to bet to win $100
So if you bet on Man City a bet of $300 will win you $100 (+$300 stake) = $400

A winning bet of $100 at odds of +300 = $300 win + $100 (stake) = $400 returned

Or

A winning bet of $100 at odds of -300 = $33 win + $100 (stake) = $133 returned

What are favorites and outsiders?

Now that you understand how to calculate the odds, you need to understand how the odds are chosen by the bookmakers. You may have noticed that the “odds” shown display three different situations:

Man City at 1/3 or 1.33. or -300 means that if your bet wins then you will win less money than you staked! – This situation is called “odds on” or “negative” so a punter might say “Man City are odds on for the FA Cup.”

Chelsea at 1/1 or 2.0 or +100 means that if your bet wins then you will win exactly the same amount as you staked. – This situation is called “evens” so a punter might say “Chelsea are evens for the FA Cup.”

Man Utd at 3/1 or 4.0 or +300 means that if your bet wins then you will win a lot more than the amount you staked. – This situation is called “against” or “positive” so a punter might say “Man Utd are 3/1 against for the FA cup.”

Punters would call Man City “the favorites”. Chelsea “the second favorites”. Man Utd “the third favorites”. All other teams “the outsiders”.

The term “favorites” means that either the bookmakers or most punters or both think that Man City are most likely to win the FA Cup. The bookmakers will have taken a lot of bets on Man City to win the FA cup therefore they may have reduced the odds so they can pay out less if Man City win. If Man City do not win then the bookmakers and punters believe that Chelsea are second most likely to win the FA Cup so they are “second favorites.” “Outsiders” means that the bookmakers and most punters know that there is a small chance that any of the other teams might win the FA Cup but they think that it is unlikely.

The odds or price therefore simply tells us what the bookmakers or punters think is more likely or unlikely to happen. What we do as punters then is calculate how much we can win against how likely or unlikely we think the event will happen.

So if you think Man Utd are more likely to win the FA Cup than Man City you would probably want to bet on Man Utd and you would win more than you staked. However if you agree with the bookmakers or most punters and think that Man City will win the FA cup then you would probably want to bet on Man City but you would win less than you staked.

You don’t have to know how to calculate

If you do use a website where you do not like the odds system used then you can always use an “odds converter” which is widely available online.

The online bookmakers also have “odds calculators” which you can also use to calculate potential winnings. These are very useful when you are calculating multiple bets and accumulators.

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