One of the most intimidating parts of sports betting for beginners is understanding sports betting odds. Most think that you need to be a math expert to understand odds, but that’s not the case. The process of understanding odds is quite simple and usually only takes a few minutes.
On this page, we will tell you a bit about how betting odds are calculated and give you the rundown on the betting odds you’ll see most often at online sportsbooks. Bookmark this page and refer back to it if you ever feel confused about sports betting odds.
Betting Odds Explained
When looking at sports, statisticians often look at probability. This is the likelihood that an event will occur. Probability runs on a scale from 0 to 1. Zero being that the event will not occur and one being that the event is certain to happen. Everything else falls between. This is where sports betting comes into play.
Bookmakers such as Pennsylvania online sportsbooks then take that probability and turn that into sports betting odds. We won’t go into the math of how betting odds are calculated, because that is not as important as understanding how to read odds. We will tell you how to read both the odds you’ll find at most American sportsbooks and how to read and bet with other forms of odds.
Understanding Moneyline Odds
The majority of American sportsbooks, like those in Pennsylvania, will use a money line format. It is really the easiest form of betting to understand and perfect for the casual gambler. Moneyline bets come in two forms, favorite and underdog bets.
The favorite in a contest is always listed with negative odds, such as -120. With negative odds, you’re presented with how much you must win to win $100. For example:
- The Washington Redskins are -120 to win on Sunday
- You will have to bet $120 to win $100
- If your bet wins, you get your initial $120 stake and the $100 in winnings.
- Your total win = $220
The underdog bet works in reverse. The odds presented are positive odds, such as +120, and the odds represent how much you can win on a $100 bet. For example:
- The Cleveland Browns are +120 to win on Sunday.
- You will win $120 on a bet of $100.
- If your bet wins, you get your $120 bet and $100 in winnings.
- Your total win = $220.
You don’t have to bet $100 or more to take advantage of these odds. These are used as a general guide. No, you don’t have to worry about converting the odds to match your bet sizing. This is done automatically at the online sportsbook.
Understanding Fractional Odds
Fractional odds are not used that much in the United States except for horse racing. You may hear this referred to as Traditional Odds or British Odds on some sportsbooks. The odds are pretty simple to follow as the fractional odd represents how much you can win relative to your bet. For example, if the odds are listed at 4/1, that means you can win $4 for ever $1 bet.
Here’s a practical example:
- Raging Starfire is 6/1 to win the Kentucky Derby.
- If you bet Raging Starfire, you are expected to get $6 for every $1 you bet.
- If you bet $10 and Raging Starfire wins, your winnings are $60, or $10 x 6.
- You also get back your original $10 bet, meaning you get a payout of $70.
Sometimes you will see fractional odds such as 5/3. This works on the same concept, but you win $5 for ever $3 bet. So remember, the numerator (top number) in a fractional bet is how much you can win on your stake listed in the denominator (bottom number.)
How About Decimal Odds?
While you won’t see this in many American sportsbooks, you may occasionally see decimal odds in your research or in live sportsbooks. It’s actually the easiest sports betting concept to understand as it tells you the exact amount you can expect to win. All you have to do is multiply your bet by the decimal odds to figure out what you can win.
Here’s a practical example:
- Manchester United is 6.0 to win a match.
- If you bet $1 and win the bet, you are paid out $6 or $1 x $6.
- Your payout includes your initial bet.
You don’t have to worry about favorites and underdogs with this betting, but if you’re still curious, it’s easy to figure out. Bets of 2.0 are even money. Anything above 2.0 is an underdog, and anything below 2.0 is a favorite.
Bet On Your Favorite Sports at PA Online Sportsbooks
Live sports betting is already available in Pennsylvania, and soon you will also be able to bet sports as PA online sportsbooks. Now that you know how betting odds are calculated and used in sports, you can take that knowledge and bet your favorite teams.
PA online sportsbooks will use moneyline odds for most sports and fractional odds for horse racing. If you’re still unclear on either, review the material above and keep it handy before making your first bets.
Everything presented may look a bit complicated, but once you start betting, it will make much more sense. Also, the sportsbooks software will also help you by automatically informing you how much you can win on a bet, making thing clearer as you go along. So don’t be afraid to make a few bets as PA online sportsbooks. It’s fun, easy, and may be profitable if you make the right picks.