Betting Odds in Sports Explained

Combining gambling skills and expertise in a particular sport is a great way to make money. More experienced bettors can often predict the outcome of specific matches, and their potential earnings depend entirely on the odds that bookies offer. Therefore, odds are probably one of the essential aspects of betting.

Bookies will usually ensure that there are good bets on all possible outcomes to even out the risk. If you want an advantage, learning how NFL odds differ from NBA odds, for example, is essential. It would help if you knew how odds work to use them properly.

Betting Odds

American Odds

Placing a minus or a plus sign before a number is one way to represent betting odds. In the industry, this is referred to as the American odds representation. The minus sign shows how much money you must bet on a team to win. Usually, the number is above 100 and indicates whether a competitor or group is expected to win.

In contrast, when you see a plus sign that precedes a number, it will indicate that the team is considered an underdog and show how much you will win if you bet $100 on that team. The winning bettor collects both the amount placed in the bet and the prize amount in both cases.

Decimal Odds

Decimal odds are another popular way that bookmakers use to express the odds. Usually, you will notice this system being used in Continental Europe. The method is pretty straightforward; the stated number is represented in decimal points, and the betting amount is included in the odds.

In other words, if you have odds of 2.5 on a particular winning team and bet $10, you will gain $25 if the team you bet on wins. The odds always need to be above one in this system to ensure that bettors can make money.

Fractional Odds

Fractional odds are primarily used in England. Usually, they are written as six to five or 6/5. The first number represents the amount you’ll win if your bet equals the second number. At first, the system could seem complicated.

Let’s say you have odds of 12/4 on a particular horse winning. As a bettor, you would need to place $4 as a bet, and if your horse wins the race, you will get $12 in return. If you win, you will get $12 you won and $4 that you placed as a bet. The amount won and the chance must be returned if you succeed in this system.

Point Spreads

Various types of games allow for sports betting. More often than not, you will find that you can bet on how many points a particular team will win, not just who or which team will win. These are referred to as point spreads. Usually, odds for these are stated as a minus or a plus number. However, the system is not the same as the American odds.

For example, say you have an NBA game, want to play point spreads and see that the odds are +9. This means that the underdog team needs to lose by at least nine points for you to win the bet. On the other hand, if the points spread is -9, the favored team needs to win by at least nine points.


This is a betting system that can only be used if the game being played has kept scores. A bettor can place bets on the total number of points scored in the game, no matter which team scores how much.

An under 170 bet in an NBA game could only be won if both teams score less than 170 points when their final results combine. Sometimes, you can bet on individual phases of the game and many points a particular player will score.

Jeremy D. Mena
Alcohol geek. Future teen idol. Web practitioner. Problem solver. Certified bacon guru. Spent 2002-2009 researching plush toys in Miami, FL. Won several awards for exporting tar in Libya. Uniquely-equipped for managing human growth hormone in Libya. Spent a weekend implementing fried chicken on the black market. Spoke at an international conference about working on carnival rides in Miami, FL. Developed several new methods for donating jack-in-the-boxes in Edison, NJ.