##### September 27, 2022

# How To Read Sports Betting Odds From Sportsbooks

- There are three types of sports betting odds formats: American, Fractional, and Decimal.
- American odds are most commonly used in the U.S. for all sports betting, except horse racing, which still uses fractional odds.
- You can use sports betting odds to determine how much you could win on a specific wager and determine if a sportsbook’s odds align with your intel on the bet.

Like other types of gambling, sports betting does involve a good deal of luck. Sports games can be unpredictable, which is what makes watching them — and betting on them — so fun. Even the most highly ranked team can get pummeled by the underdog, or the most unsuspecting contender can pull ahead of everyone else.

But if you want to make the most of your wagers and actually profit off them, you have to know **how to read ****sports betting odds** on sportsbooks. These numbers tell you how likely an event is from the bookmaker’s perspective. They also tell you how much you could stand to win if the event is successful. Both pieces of information help you pick the most lucrative wagers.

Sure, you could make a sound bet and lose it all because the team you thought was going to win actually loses. But making consistently sound bets means you can have a solid **sports betting strategy** that earns you money in the long run. And the very first step to building a strategy as a **beginner sports bettor **is to know **how to read sports betting odds** so you can use them to calculate wagers and pick out the best bets.

## How To Read American Odds

**American odds **have plus (+) and minus (-) signs next to a three-digit number. In general, these wagers are based on a $100 wager or win, depending on if the bet is an underdog or favored.

The numbers tell you what your expected payout is on a $100 bet or how much you need to bet to win $100 on that outcome. The positive and negative symbols indicate whether an event, team, or player is an underdog or favorite to win in the category. The plus sign means that team or outcome is the underdog, or is less likely to succeed, and the minus sign means that team or outcome is the favorite to win or succeed.

Let’s look at an example:

*Image courtesy Caesars Sportsbook NJ*

Above, you can see the plus and minus signs in front of the three-digit numbers, which indicates that these are American odds. (Ignore the spread and over/under — we’ll talk about how to read point spreads later. For now, focus on the moneyline, which is the odds of winning.)

The Miami Dolphins have +162 odds to win, making them the underdog in this game. That means you could win $162 on a $100 bet. The Cincinnati Bengals have -195 odds to win, making them the favorite to win. So, you would need to wager $195 to win $100 if the Bengals beat the Dolphins.

This format is called “American” odds because, well, they’re the standard **sports betting odds format** in America (with a few exceptions — horse racing, we’re looking at you). You’ll generally see these odds on any online sportsbook in New Jersey for sports like football, baseball, basketball, hockey, and others.

### Reading Spreads in American Odds

A spread, or point spread, is where you wager based on how close the game will be, also known as the “margin of victory.” Generally, the odds for a point spread are just -110, meaning you must bet an additional 10% to make a profit. So, you would bet $1.10 to win $1. It’s easiest to understand spreads based on $1 bets rather than $100 bets because you’ll likely want to wager smaller amounts since you’re betting on the minutiae of the win, not just who wins.

Let’s look at the Miami-Cincinnati game pictured above. The margin of victory is slim at just 3.5 points. That means the Cincinnati Bengals must win by at least 4 points (and, thus, the Miami Dolphins must lose by at least 4 points) for you to win your bet. But, if the Bengals win by just a field goal, you lose the bet.

If you’re really confident a certain team will win, you can make a moneyline bet and a point spread bet to maximize your winnings. Or, you can bet solely on how close the game will be.

### How Do You Calculate Potential Winnings for American Odds?

There are two simple formulas you can use to calculate how much you could win with a specific bet amount using **American odds**. They involve inputting the odds and your wager amount into a fraction and cross-multiplying to find *x*, which is how much you’d win with that wager.

Before we go over the formulas, let’s do a refresher math lesson and define some key terminology. The number above (or the left of) the division line is called the numerator. The number below (or to the right of) the division line is the denominator. Cross multiplying means multiplying the numerator of the first fraction by the denominator of the second fraction, and then multiplying the denominator of the first fraction by the numerator of the second fraction. Finally, you solve for x.

Let’s take a look at some examples based on each formula.

If you want to wager on the underdog in the Miami-Cincinnati above, you would bet on Miami to win at +162 odds. Here’s the formula to find your winnings for an underdog wager:

Let’s find out how much you can win on a $50 bet for the Dolphins to win.

If we cross-multiply to get 100x = 8,100 and solve for x, we get 81. That means you’ll win $81, with a total payout of $131 (your wager plus your winnings).

When you want to make a favored bet, you would wager on the negative odds. In this case, you’d wager on the Cincinnati Bengals at -195 odds.

Let’s see the math for how much you could win if you bet on the Bengals winning.

When we cross-multiply to get 195x = 5,000 and solve for x, we get about 25.64. That means you would win just over $25 on a $50 wager for the Bengals to win. Your total payout in this case would be $75.64.

## How To Read Fractional Odds

**Fractional odds** are just like they sound — odds displayed as fractions. These fractions tell you how many times the bookmakers think the event is likely not to happen (represented by the numerator) divided by the times they think the event is likely to succeed (represented by the denominator).

Generally, **fractional odds** are used outside the U.S., such as in the UK. But you’ll also see them used in the U.S. during the Kentucky Derby and other horse racing events.

Let’s look at some examples:

*Image courtesy UnibetNJ*

Above, we have the fractional odds format for a game between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints. The middle column is the moneyline — that’s where our focus is.

The bookmaker, Unibet, thinks that the Vikings are expected to lose four times for every six times they may win. Unibet believes that the Saints are going to lose six times for every five times they win. So, the Vikings are the favored bet and the Saints are the underdog wager.

### How Do You Calculate Potential Winnings for Fractional Odds?

The formula for **calculating potential winnings for fractional odds **is pretty simple. All you have to do is multiply your wager by the fractional odds for the specific outcome. Here’s a play by play for the Vikings-Saints game from above.

If you want to wager $100 on the Vikings (the favorite) to win, you would just multiply 100 * 4/6. You get approximately 66.67 (when rounded up). That means you could win $66.67 for a total payout of $166.67.

Let’s take that $100 wager and bet on the Saints (the underdog) to win. We multiply 100 * 6/5 and get 120. You would win $120 for a total payout of $220.

*Quick tip: Divide the fraction down into a decimal first, then multiply your wager by that decimal. It’s easier to do when using a calculator or when doing it by hand.*

## How To Read Decimal Odds

Like fractional odds, **decimal odds** are exactly what they seem — **betting odds** in decimal format. In general, **decimal odds** show you how much you can expect to win on a $1 wager if this event succeeds. As a decimal, it can be more or less than 1 (but not less than 0).

**Decimal odds** are more commonly used outside the U.S., but you may find them easier to navigate.

Let’s look at another example.

*Image courtesy of UnibetNJ*

Unibet has the Chicago Bears at 2.45 decimal odds and the New York Giants at 1.57 odds. Essentially, this means that the Bears are the underdog (because their decimal is higher than the other team’s decimal odds) and the Giants are the favorite to win.

### How Do You Calculate Potential Winnings for Decimal Odds?

It’s even more straightforward to **calculate your potential winnings for decimal odds**. All you have to do is multiply your wager by the **decimal odds** listed for the outcome. That math gives you your total payout. So, you must then subtract your wager to see your profit.

Let’s work it out.

We’ve got $50. If we bet on the Bears, we could get a payout of $122.50. Minus our wager, we have winnings of $72.50. If we bet on the Giants, we would get a payout of $78.50, which is $28.50 of profit.

## I Don’t Know What To Bet On — What Do I Do?

Implied probability is the likelihood of an outcome succeeding from the bookmaker’s perspective. Understanding the implied probability of an outcome allows you to compare what the bookmakers think to what you think will happen. This is where following the sport you’re betting on comes in handy. You can use the intel you’ve gained from sports betting podcasts, blogs, and sports news channels to pick the best bets based on your knowledge.

If you’re confident that one team will win over the other, you should check out the implied probability offered by bookmakers to find one with whom you can maximize your wager. For instance, if you think a team has a 75% chance of winning, and a bookmaker offers a wager with 70% implied probability, you might want to take it.

### How Do You Calculate Implied Probability for American Odds?

For **American odds**, the formula for implied probability is:

100/[positive odds + 100]

Let’s go back to the Miami-Cincinnati game.

For the Dolphins to win, the implied probability is as follows:

100/[162+100]

100/262

0.3816 or ~ 38.2%

The bookmakers at Caesars think the Dolphins have about a 38% chance of beating the Bengals.

The formula changes slightly for negative odds:

Negative odds/[negative odds + 100]

*Quick tip: Don’t include the negative sign. Just use the numeral behind the minus sign.*

For the Bengals to win, the implied probability is:

195/[195+100]

195/295

0.661 or ~ 66.1%

The bookmakers at Caesars give the Bengals a 66% chance to beat the Dolphins.

### How Do You Calculate Implied Probability for Fractional Odds?

Using **fractional odds **to find implied probability is pretty simple. You just divide the denominator by the value of the denominator plus the numerator. In other words, you divide the bottom number or number to the right of the fraction line by the sum of the top and bottom (or right and left) numbers.

Denominator/(Denominator + Numerator)

Using the Vikings-Saints game, we get the following percentages for implied probability:

Vikings – 6/6+4 = 6/10 = 60%

Saints – 5/5+6 = 5/11 = ~45%

### How Do You Calculate Implied Probability for Decimal Odds?

It’s also very simple to find the implied probability for **decimal odds**. All you have to do is divide 1 by the **decimal odds**. So, for the Bears-Giants game, the odds are as follows:

Bears – 1/2.45 = ~40.8%

Giants – 1/1.57 = ~63.7%

## You Can Change Your Odds Format on Your Favorite Online Sportsbooks

Many online casinos and sportsbooks in New Jersey allow bettors to change the odds format. For example, at Caesars Sportsbook, you can change the odds format by hovering over “Odds Format” in the top menu, on the right-hand side. Then, click either Fractional or Decimal. American is the default. At Unibet NJ, you can change the odds format by scrolling down to the bottom of the home screen. In the middle under the different active wagers, you’ll see a drop-down menu that you can toggle for each of the three formats.

This trick is helpful if you find calculating implied probability and wagering much easier with either fractional or decimal odds. It’s also handy if you’re from across the pond and betting in New Jersey but are more comfortable wagering with fractional and decimal odds.