If you are new to online sportsbooks or betting in general, then looking at odds for the first time can be confusing and quite daunting.

Unfortunately, you must know how to read these odds to be successful betting. Fortunately, we’ve put together an in-depth, easy to follow guide that will help you become an expert.

In this Betting Odds guide, we will be showing you how to read Moneyline odds, total bets and spread bets, and how they will be displayed at different online sportsbooks.

How to read betting odds

What Are Odds?

Let’s start with the basics.

Odds indicate the likelihood of an outcome occurring. In a traditional sport betting market, each team will be assigned their odds, representing the likelihood that they will win the game. If the sportsbook decides that each team is as likely to win the game, they put each team’s odds as evens, otherwise known as 1 to 1.

As an example, if Team A is given 3 to 1 odds to win the game, this means that Team B is three times as likely to win the game. If Team A is given 15 to 1 odds on winning the game, that means that team B is 15 times as likely to win the game.

However, at most major US online sportsbooks, odds are typically given as American Odds with a positive or negative symbol and not given as fractional odds of 3 to 1 or 15 to 1. You can change this option at your bookmaker of choice, though.

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Odds Formats

Odds are displayed in three different formats, American, Fractional or Decimal, serving two purposes:

  1. They indicate the likelihood of an event happening
  2. They Indicate how much bettors can make win if that outcome is to happen

Your sportsbook of choice may manipulate the odds to encourage bets towards a certain side. You’ll also find that the sum of all the possibilities surpassed 100%; this is because the online sportsbook needs to take a cut, and they add this cut directly into the odds.

American Odds Explained

If, when betting, you a +/- in front of a three or four-digit number (-180, +220), you are betting using the American Betting Format.

What Does American Odds Mean In Sports Betting?

The +/- found on sports betting line shows two things; it shows your potential payout alongside showing you whether you are betting on the favorite or the underdog.

A negative number (-120) indicates who the favorite is in the matchup. The negative (-) number shows how much you would need to bet to win a $100 profit.

A positive number (+320) shows who the underdog is. The positive number is the amount you would win if you were to bet $100.

How to read betting odds

Using the example above, in order to win $100 betting on the Pittsburgh Penguins (favorites), you’d need to bet $130. If you wagered $100 on the Ottawa Senator, you’d collect $110.

Decimal Odds Explained

They are usually described as the easiest way to view betting odds by both new and experienced bettors. Decimal Odds are displayed like the image below.

The decimal odds are straightforward to follow, in which the lower the number, the more likely that event is to happen. So in the example above, the Cleveland Indians are favorites at 1.61 odds over the Tampa Bay Rays with 2.40 odds.

Betting guide - decimal odds

Calculating your payouts are very simple when using decimal odds, simply multiply your desired wager amount by the decimal odds to find how much you would receive if your bet were to win. So a $75 on the Tampa Bay Rays would return $180 (75×2.40), whereas a $75 wager on Cleveland would return $120.75 (75×1.61).

Fractional Odds Explained

Fractional odds are more commonly used in European betting markets, specifically the UK Horse Racing. However, it is very rarely used in the US, and they can be quite confusing at first glance.

Betting guide - Fractional odds

Using Real Madrid as an example, the number on the left side of the fraction (7) is how many times the sportsbook expects the outcome to fail, whereas the number found on the right of the fraction (4) tells us how many times the sportsbook expects the outcome to happen.

How To Use Fractional Odds?

Using the example above of Real Madrid vs. Juventus and say that we are looking to bet on Real Madrid at 7/4 odds. These odds suggest that if this match took place 11 times, Real Madrid would win 4 of the 11 games.

To find the favorite using fractional odds, you’ll need to calculate the implied probability of each outcome. However, this isn’t difficult to do.

How To Calculate Implied Probability On Fractional Odds?

To find the implied probability of any fractional odds format, you’ll need to take the number of times the bookmaker suggests the outcome will happen and divide it by the total number of trials.

Using our example of Real Madrid to win at 7/4, we would take the total number of times Madrid is expected to win, which is 4. Now divide this number this by the total number of trials, which is done by adding both sides of the fraction. In this case, 11.

So we would do four divided by 11, which gives us 0.363, which as a percentage is 36%.

Doing the same for Juventus at 9/5 odds, we would divide five by 14 to give us Juventus odds for winning as a percentage, being 0.357 or 36% as a percentage.

And again for the draw at 11/5. Dividing five by 16 gives us 0.313 or 31% as a percentage.

This means that the sportsbook doesn’t favor either Real Madrid or Juventus and puts them on level odds.

As I mentioned before, if you find the sum of all these percentages they will be above 100%, being 103% in this case. This means that the bookmaker will make 3% of all the bets taken on this game guaranteed, regardless of the result.

Now that you’re aware of the three different odds formats and how to use them, we will now cover the different types of bets at US online sportsbooks.

What Is Line Betting?

If a sportsbook believes that the Los Angeles Lakers are a 15-points better team than the Phoenix Suns, the sportsbook can handicap the Lakers by 15 points.

This creates a Line Bet. The two markets on offer would then be to back the Lakers winning by more than 15 points or to back the Suns to get within a 15 point loss. Both sides of the line bet will be of equal odds, roughly around $1.90.

What Is A Moneyline Bet?

A Moneyline bet is the most popular and simplest form of bet of which a player can place. It is when a bettor places a wager on an outright winner of the contest, without a handicap implemented.Moneyline bet

Due to the nature of sports, there is a lot more variation in these odds, as most contests will have a favorite and an underdog.

You will be drawn to backing the favorite in any contest as at the end of the day; they are the favorite to win, however, backing the favorite will pay out significantly less than if you were to back the underdog and to win.

What Is A Total Bet?

A Total bet is exclusive to leagues such as the NBA, NHL, and NFL in which you place a bet on the total amount of points/goals will be scored in a game collectively by both teams.

The sportsbook will give you a benchmark total of points to be scored in that game, and you place a bet on whether you think there will be more or fewer points scored.

Similar to Moneyline Bets, there are obviously going to be more likely scenarios than others. For example, the odds on an NFL game between the 2019 SuperBowl Champs Kansas City Chiefs vs. MVP Lamar Jackson and his Baltimore Ravens scoring lower than a total of 30 points is unlikely, offering more money if it occurs compared to the low odds of there being more than a total of 30 points, which will give players less money as it is likely that the game will have more than 30 points total.

Now that you know what bets every major US sportsbook covers, we are going to show you examples of how they will look in every sport and what they look like.

What are odds boosts?

Odds boosts are regularly highlighted and promoted with sportsbooks and betting sites. These are simply promo offers where operators will increase the odds for a specific event or game outcode. For example, Dustin Johnson to win the BMW championship is normally +850. With a special odds boost, you can get the bet at +925.

Odds boost

How To Read Betting Lines & Odds On Football?

Due to the unlikeliness of draws in the NFL, most sportsbooks exclude a draw from Moneyline bets and instead place a draw as their own unique bet. This also allows for a whole scope of new betting markets and NFL odds when using Team A vs. Team B. In our example below, we are using the New York Giants vs. Miami Dolphins and what the betting markets may look like.

From the example above, you could expect the below from your bets. Note that if the Dolphins won by exactly 8 points, then all bets would be refunded.

Line Betting – At an average evens price of $1.90, an $11 stake would return $10 – $21 total if the Dolphins win by nine or more points.

Moneyline Betting – Placing a $200 on the Dolphins would return $100 if Miami won. In comparison, a $100 bet on New York would return $180.

Total Betting – Betting that there will be a total of over or under 40 points scored will offer equal odds of approximately $1.90. So multiply your stake by 1.9 to calculate your outcome.

How To Read Betting Lines & Odds On NBA?

With the high-paced, back and forth nature of basketball, handicaps are difficult for sportsbooks to get right due to the number of points scored per game. Let’s look at our example match between the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Clippers.

As the line betting is a decimal (3.5) and not a whole number, meaning that the line cannot be split, and there is no refund option like the NFL offers.

Line Betting – At the cost of an average even of $1.90, simply multiply your stake by 1.9 to find your return if your handicap bet is to win.

Moneyline Betting – Placing a bet of $180 on the Clippers will win you $100 if Los Angeles wins. Whereas a $100 bet on Brooklyn will reward you with $160 if the Nets win.

Total Betting – With the average Total betting odds of $1.90, you will need to multiply your stake by 1.9 to find your potential winning on if you correctly bet on there being over/under 215.5 points in the game.

How to Read Betting Lines And Odds NHL?

The markets available on hockey and NHL games are identical found to that in the NBA and NFL. However, due to the enhanced possibility of overtime, sportsbooks offer a total market that includes overtime.

Line Betting – With the average evens of $1.90, similar to that of the NFL and NBA, just multiply your stake by 1.9 to find your winning.

Moneyline Betting – A $150 on the Maple Leafs would return $100 profit, whereas a $100 bet on the Dallas Stars returns $135.

Total Betting – Again, similar to the NFL and NBA, multiply your stake by 1.9 to find your reward.

Parlay Betting

Parlay betting is popular across American sports in which players can back a combination of teams for a higher return. However, if one team loses, that voids your whole bet. Parlay bets define higher risk, higher reward when it comes to online betting.

How Are Parlay Betting Odds Calculated?

Below is an example of a standard parlay payout table for parlays in which wagers are at -110 odds, where a bet of $110 wins you $100, are combined.

What US Sportsbooks offer the best odds?

This is always a tricky question as there are so many sports and so many operators now available. Some are better at offering the best odds on football, while another sportsbook may be best at offering the best odds on soccer. However, the two most used sportsbooks we recommend and use for the best odds are

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Now that you have the knowledge of how to read betting odds, you can go put them in to practice! Go check out our sportsbooks for New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Colorado and see what you can do!