If you are new to sports betting, one of the biggest questions you may have is, how do betting odds work? Odds can seem complex and difficult to get your head around. However, betting odds are not as complex as many people may believe them to be.

Unfortunately, newcomers to sports betting may become bogged down with betting odds. Once you understand them, you won't have any difficulty making a winning bet that pays out a nice profit.

Understanding and calculating odds should be learned by anyone who makes sports bets. It will take a little time, but it will certainly pay off in the end.

We will go into everything from how betting odds work, what the number on the right and the number on the left mean below. Take a look at betting odds explained.

What Are Odds?

Betting odds are your selection’s chance of winning a sports event in the opinion of the bookie. The odds also reflect the amount of money you will win if your bet is successful. 

Bookmakers compile betting odds to represent what they believe will occur during an event or for the final result of the event. Depending on where you live, betting odds are represented in different formats. There are fractional odds (3/1), decimal odds (2.0), or American odds (+300). Regardless of the odds format you choose, they all mean the same thing in the end.

Bookies and casinos apply betting odds to a variety of events. Sports betting is just one type of gambling that bookmakers put odds on. A bookmaker may also put odds on a national election, reality television show outcome, or other events in which a result can occur.

In the UK and European sports, the most popular betting markets are football, horse racing, tennis, rugby, golf, boxing, and basketball.

What Is Probability?

Probability is the likelihood of an event happening. If an event has a high probability, then it is more likely to occur than it is to not happen. An event with a low probability is less likely to occur than it is to happen.

UK sportsbooks typically display probability as a fraction. The probability is shown as two numbers divided by a forward slash. For example, 2/1. 

Probability isn't as difficult as it sounds to understand. For example, imagine you are tossing a coin into the air to see if it lands on heads or tails. There are two possible results when tossing a coin in the air, heads or tails.

You have the probability of one in two chances of tossing heads. This can be represented by the odds of 1/1. This means the result has a 50% chance of occurring. Sports bettors can use betting odds provided by bookies to determine just how likely the result of a sports event will occur.

How to Read Betting Odds

Once you work out the probability of a result occurring, you are able to use the betting odds to figure out the possible returns on a successful bet.

You will want to read betting odds to understand how betting odds work,

The great thing about fractional odds, and the reason why many people in the UK and Europe use them, is because they are easy to work out the return.

Fractional odds work by telling you the potential winnings based on your betting stake. For example, if the odds on Everton to defeat Liverpool are at 5/1, the bet would return £6 for a successful bet. You would receive £5 for winning the bet and you would also get your £1 stake back from the bookie.

If the number on the left is larger than the number on the right number, then the odds are against the result happening. In this odds format, if the first number is smaller than the second number, then the odds of the result occurring are more likely.

It is called odds-on betting when the first number is smaller than the second number. Odds-on sports events are more likely to occur according to sportsbooks than to not happen.

Decimal odds and American odds are basically the same when it comes to reading betting odds. Continue reading to learn more about how these types of betting odds function and different types of betting odds explained.

Do Odds in Sport Betting Work Different to Probability?

Sports odds are not static. Odds change over time in the lead up to a match. The odds change as more bets come for an event. For example, a sportsbook will alter the odds on an event if there is more betting on one side.

As more bets come in and the odds change, the probability estimations of a result occurring vary over time. In addition, the odds displayed by bookmakers can vary significantly from one to the other. One bookmaker's odds may be different than a rival a bookmaker's figures. This could be an attempt to entice more bettors to wager a specific way.

Easyodds makes it simple for you to compare betting odds. By seeing the different odds offered by leading bookmakers, you are able to select the best market to win your wager.

It is great to win a sports wager, but you should back teams only when the odds tell you there is a chance of the bet winning. One of the keys to being successful at sports betting is to assess the possible outcome and to consider if it is more likely than the bookies' probability.

How Do You Use Odds To Calculate Probability?

You can convert from betting odds to probability by dividing the odds by one plus the odds. For example, to convert odds of 1/8 to a probability, divide 1/9 by 10/9 to get the probability of 0.10.

You can also convert the probability of a result occurring to odds. Simply divide the probability by one minus the probability. For a probability of 10%, or 0.10, the odds are 0.1/0.9 or ‘1 to 9’ or 0.111.

How Can You Use Odds Calculate Your Winnings?

There are different types of betting odds and you can calculate your winnings using the odds. The odds tell you how much money you will win by multiplying your stake amount. Read on to learn about the different types of odds and how to calculate your winnings.

What Are the Different Types of Odds?

There are different types of odds that bookmakers use. Fractional, decimal, American, moneyline, and Asian odds are five different types of odds that bookmakers employ. You are likely to come across these types of odds. The type of odds you use will come down to personal preference.

What Are Fractional Odds?

Fractional odds work by telling you the potential winnings based on your betting stake.

How Do Fractional Odds Work?

If the odds on Everton to defeat Liverpool are at 5/1, the bet would return £6 for a successful bet. You would receive £5 for winning the bet and you would also get your £1 stake back from the bookie.

What Are Decimal Odds?

Decimal odds show the amount you would win for every £1 wagered. You would typically find decimal odds used on betting exchanges. Displaying odds can be a personal choice but you tend to see just one format on the likes of Betfair Exchange and Smarkets to name a few.

How Do Decimal Odds Work?

For odds of 11.00, you would win £11 on a £1 bet. The return is a combination of the profit and the stake.

What Are American Odds?

American odds are used in North America to represent the likelihood of an outcome. If you visit a Las Vegas bookmaker and want to wager on the NFL's Super Bowl, then you will likely see these odds. American odds are represented by a + or - in front of a three-digit number. For example, +100 or -200.

It is important to remember that American odds are based on bets of £100.

How Do American Odds Work?

The Green Bay Packers are listed as -120, while the New York Giants are +200 ahead of their upcoming NFL game. The team with a - in front of the number is the favourite, while the team with the + is the underdog.

If you wager on the Packers to win, the -120 means you will win £100 for every £120 you stake. A £10 bet it would return £18.33. Your return would include £10 stake and £8.33 profit (calculated as £10/£120 x 100).

If you wager on the Giants to win, the +200 means that for every £100 you stake, you will win £300 (£200 plus your £100 stake). A £10 bet would mean you will win £30 – your £10 stake and £20 profit (calculated as £10/£100 x 200).

Point spread is a common form of betting in the USA.

What Is MoneyLine Odds?

Moneyline odds are simply American odds. You may see the term moneyline odds used rather than American odds on some sportsbooks.

What are Asian Odds?

Asian odds were created in the Far East. They are very popular with some bettors. Asian odds make a sporting event more even by assigning a handicap to one of the two teams. This brings the odds closer together. Additional betting opportunities are created by the more closely aligned odds. In addition, Asian odds remove the possibility of a draw in events where a tie can occur.

How Do Asian Odds Work?

When Asian odds are used in a football match, the weaker team may be given a handicap of 1 goal to make the match more balanced.

Asian odds use different handicaps in games. You can explore your favourite online bookie to see the different handicaps available.

What Is Implied Probability?

Implied probability uses math to convert traditional betting odds into a percentage. The percentage explains what the bookmaker expects an event's outcome to be. Implied probability is also known as implied odds.

For fractional odds: denominator / (denominator + numerator) * 100 = implied probability

For decimal odds: (1/ decimal odds) * 100 = implied probability

For American odds: Negative American odds / (Negative American odds + 100) * 100 = implied probability or 100 / (positive American odds + 100) * 100 = implied probability

What Is the Difference Between the Types of Odds?

Fractional odds are the ratio of the profit won compared to the stake. Decimal odds display the amount you win for every £1 wagered. American odds/Moneyline odds depend on whether you wager on the negative or positive sign amount. Either sign indicates the amount you need to stake to win £100 or the profit you would win for every £100 staked. Asian odds provide a handicap to one team in a sports event to make the game more even. It also takes away the possibility of a draw.

Decimal Odds vs Fractional Odds

The difference between decimal betting odds and fractional betting odds is that the stake is included in the price offered by the bookie. Decimal odds of 3.00 price tell you exactly how much you will win from a £1 bet (£2 profit plus the £1 stake back).

In fractional odds, 2/1 means that you will win £2 for every £1 bet. The odds do not take into account the £1 stake that will be returned to you. Decimal odds of 3.00 and fractional odds of 2/1 are exactly the same. Personal preference will determine your odds choice.

What Are the Most Common Type of Odds?

UK bookmakers and across Europe, fractional odds and decimal odds are the most popular. In America, you will see moneyline/American odds used by bookies. Online sportsbooks give you the chance to change to your preferred odds type.

How Do Odds Work Differently on Sportsbooks to Exchanges?

A traditional sportsbook offers you the odds on an event. You bet against the sportsbook and the bookmaker takes bets from different punters on the same event.

An exchange disrupts the traditional sportsbook model by putting the bettors up against each other. Exchanges give punters a platform to trade the outcome of sports events as bettors to bet against other bettors and not a bookmaker.

Exchanges can offer better odds and more value on bets. One of the most popular reasons that punters use exchanges is due to the vast betting possibilities. You can place a wager with ridiculous odds that a bookmaker won't accept. If another punter takes your wager, then you can win big.

Unfortunately, one of the big issues with exchanges is their lack of simplicity. Sportsbooks are quite easy to understand, while it can take some time to get your head around exchanges.


Betting odds are the backbone of sports betting. You can learn your potential profit, total payout, and total return thanks to odds. You can also learn just how probable an event is to occur. Whether you want to use fractional odds, decimal betting odds, American betting odds, or Asian odds, you should now be able to work out your total payout before making your next wager.