The Essence Of Sports Betting Odds

Whatever you do, every time you bet, you will have to deal with odds. Whether you are calculating your profit margin or comparing the different probabilities, it is all directly related to odds. In turn, odds comprise several types based on the way they are represented.


As an average bettor, you should only be interested in Decimal (European) odds. It is hardly likely that you will ever have to deal with the rest of the types, especially since most bookmakers let you choose your preferred odds format.

However, if you are aiming at becoming a top-notch player, it is important to be familiar with different types of odds, how they work and how to read them.

This knowledge will come in very handy if you turn to American sports because the analyses and recommendations covering these games use mainly Money Line (American).

To illustrate more clearly what I mean, I have taken several odds and put together the different formats in the table above. The first column contains the odds converted into implied probability (more on this concept can be found in this article).
The last column shows net profit represented as a percentage.

Let me attempt to explain briefly how to figure out and operate with the three most common types of odds.


Decimal 3.00

Also known as European format, decimal odds are the easiest to calculate and the most practical to use.

There isn’t so much to say about these odds as you probably have come across this format in Eurofootball back at the age of 10.
The only thing which you need to pay attention to here is the difference between payout and profit. I see many people confusing these terms, which boosts excitement levels, and that is one of the greatest dangers for bettors.

I discuss these topics in detail in the section on psychology.

Payout is calculated by multiplying the stake by the odds:

payout = stake * odds => £100€ * 2.3 = £230

With this odds format, the stake is automatically included in the calculation, hence many people would say their profit is £230, while in fact this is the payout.

To calculate profit, subtract your stake from the formula like this:

profit = stake * (odds -1) => £100 * (2.3-1) = £130

Има малка разлика в това да заложиш 500€ на коеф. 1.2 и накрая да кажеш, че си спечелил 600€, от това да кажеш, че печалбата е 100€! 😀

You stake £500 at 1.2 odds and then you say you won £600 when in fact your profit is £100. There is a difference, isn’t it?

As you can see in the table above, the HONG KONG format offers the most precise calculation as it directly works out your potential profit.


Fractional 3/1

This format is mostly used in Great Britain. It is represented as a fraction – 4/6, 8/3, etc. At first sight, it could be rather confusing but let me show you this is not quite true.

To me, the easiest way to understand these odds is to know that the numerator (number on the left) stands for the profit while the denominator (number on the right) stands for the stake.


4/6 means you get to win £4 for every £6 you staked

3/1 means you get to win £3 for every pound you staked

Fractional odds do not include the stake when calculating return. Hence, the number on the left stands for your net profit.

You calculate your profit with the following formula:

((stake/denominator)*numerator) + stake

If the odds is 3/1 and you would like to stake £10, calculating your payout looks like this: ((£10/1)*3) + £10 = £40

To convert a fractional into decimal odds, simply divide the numerator to the denominator and add 1 (numerator/denominator)+1 => 4/2 = 3.00

In general, keep in mind that if the number on the left is smaller than the one on the right, the odds is less than 2.


Money Line -/+300

The American odds format is the second most popular one. It might also be a bit confusing at first but don’t stress out. You will get the hang of it in the next 4 sentences.

The main thing to notice with these odds is the ‘plus’ or ‘minus’ sign in front of the number. ‘-’ denotes a bet on the favourite, while ‘+’ denotes a bet on the underdog.

R. Federer -150
А. Murray +180

Remember that the negative amount shows how much you need to stake in order to win £100 (or a different currency), while the positive amount shows how much you will win if you stake £100 (or a different currency).

If we take the above example and Federer is your favourite, then you need to stake £150 in order to win £100. If you bet on Andy Murray, for every £100 you stake, you will win £180.

Keep in mind that a negative number means the odds is less than 2, and vice versa, if the number is positive, the odds is more than 2.

There are two formulas for converting American odds to decimal based on whether the odds is negative or positive.

If you have a minus, you divide 100 by the American odds (disregarding the minus) and add 1 => (100/American odds) + 1

Federer -150=> (100/150) + 1=1.67

When there is a plus in front of the odds, the formula changes slightly and you divide the odds by 100 and then add 1 => (American odds/100) + 1

Murray +180 => (180/100) + 1 = 2.8


I hope you have figured out how to read different types of odds and now things are at least a bit clearer. If there is something you don’t understand, go ahead and drop me a line; I will get back to you as soon as possible.