If you’ve ever tried sports betting, you’ve probably asked yourself the question — how does sports betting work? Moreover, if you’ve just started doing your research, some confusion is inevitable.
However, the world of sports betting keeps growing, and if you wish to become a part of it, this sports betting guide will help you.
Introduction to Odds
In the beginning, sports betting odds can seem confusing. But don’t worry, it is possible to learn how sports betting odds work and how to read them. Just stay tuned.
What Are Sports Odds: Sports Odds Explained
Betting odds are a representation of the probability of a contestant winning or losing. Odds also show you the money you will receive depending on the money you wager.
As simple as the definition sounds, the numbers representing the odds may look confusing. Sometimes, understanding sports odds seems to be an impossible task.
How Do Sports Betting Odds Work
The American system of sports odds (Moneyline) is the most common odds system in the US. This system is based on $100, which might sound simple, but reading sports odds in this system can be a little overwhelming at first.
One competitor is usually marked with a plus, which means that it is not a probable winner. In contrast, the favorite is marked with a minus.
Here is an example of how to calculate sports odds. For a match between Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns, the odds would be +176 for Denver Nuggets and -192 for Phoenix Suns. This means that the Phoenix Suns are a favorite for this match, while Denver is the underdog.
Now that you know the answer to the question — how do odds work in sports? — calculating them is not that difficult. You just need to know what the numbers stand for.
The first number shows you that if you bet $100 on Denver Nuggets and they win, you will earn $176 + the $100 you wagered. The other number shows how much you need to bet to earn $100. So the number is $100 win + the $192 you wagered.
Continue reading our sports betting guide for the beginner and learn how you can start betting as well.
Additional Types of Odds/Types of Betting
Besides standard Moneyline odds, there are some other odds you may encounter on the betting sites. Understanding how to read sports betting odds of all types can be helpful if you plan to win more money betting.
Odds in Different Countries
There are three different betting odds (country-dependent): British, European, and American odds. Each of them has its own separate system of representing odds. Although it may seem complicated, understanding the sports betting odds of the three methods is relatively easy.
|British odds||European odds||American odds|
|Way of representation||In fractions||In decimals||In whole numbers with minus or plus|
|Winning||$1,100 ($1,000+your wager)||$1,000||1. $200 (winning $100 + wager $100)
2. $400 (winning $100 + wager $300)
British odds show you how much you can win (left side) with your wager (right). With British odds, you also receive your wager back if you win. On the other hand, European odds show you the number that your wager gets multiplied with if you win.
Understanding sports odds in the British and European systems is practical. Still, most betting sites allow you to choose the version you feel most confident with.
The American system is the most common in the US and will be used as a reference in other parts of this article.
Point Spread Betting Odds
The point spread is one of the two most common numbers you may see on the betting sites. The money won is decided by the Moneyline odds that usually stand next to the point spread. However, the point spread allows you more mobility than just deciding on the winner or loser.
But what is the point spread? A simple point spread sports betting odds explanation is that it is a number that shows the expected difference in points.
If the point spread is -1.5 for Team A and +1.5 for Team B, Team A is expected to win by at least 1.5 points.
To understand how to win at sports betting with a point spread, let’s look at an example. With the odds of -1.5 for Team A and +1.5 for Team B, the person that bets on Team B wins the money if team B either wins or loses by less than 1.5 points.
The person that places a bet on Team A will win if Team A wins with more than 1.5 points. If the teams win or lose by exactly 1.5 points, the bet is void, and the wager gets returned.
Parlay Betting Odds
This type of betting allows you to bet on different games and different sports with just one ticket. How sports odds work in parlay betting is that if you bet on 5 teams and all of them win, your ticket passes, and you win money.
The advantage of this ticket is that it earns you more money for the same wager.
Calculating parlay odds
As difficult as it might be to understand the answer to the question — how does sports betting work? — parlays are even one step ahead.
The problem with parlay tickets is that they are often represented in decimals (European odds), so the conversion from the American system is necessary.
|American odds||Decimal odds|
|-130 ($130 wager + $100 earning = $230 total winnings)||Total winnings/wager=decimal odd
The first step to learning how to win sports betting parlays is to calculate the decimal odds for each item on your parlay ticket. If your ticket has a -130 wager for each item, your decimal odd for the whole ticket is 5,538006 (decimal odds multiplied with each other)
1.769231*1.769231*1.769231 = 5.538006
Your decimal odds multiplied with your wager give you the total winning of your bet. 5.538006*130=719.94078. This means that for $130 with a triple parlay ticket, you earn almost $720 as opposed to $100 for a single wager.
If this parley conversion sports odds explanation seems too complicated or exhausting, some odds calculators can help you.
Total or Over/Under Betting Odds
Over/under odds represent another type of betting that allows you more freedom than straight Moneyline bets. In over/under, you are given points for the complete game. You have an option to choose either over or under.
To get a gist on how to win at sports betting with over/under odds, let’s look at the example.
50.5 OVER -110
50.5 UNDER -115
If the game has 51 points or more, the person that wagered “over” wins, while the person who wagered “under” wins if the match has 50 or fewer points.
In the case that the total odds are an even number, the push (returning all wagers) may also happen if the number of points is equal to the total odds number.
Odds in Different Sports
Even though the odds mentioned before are considered to be universal, each sport follows its own rules. How does sports betting work in different sports? — is the question answered in this part.
NFL Betting Odds Explained
Football is America’s favorite sport, which is why many need football betting odds explained if they are just starting out. It is also the most popular sport to bet on, with 70% of Americans betting on football at least once in their lifetime.
So, it is not unusual for the question — how do odds work in football? — to arise when talking about betting.
To better understand NFL sports betting odds, it is crucial to understand that there are a few types used in NFL:
- Traditional Moneyline odds, meaning that you bet only on the team that will win the game.
- Point spread odds, which give you the option to bet on the points the teams will have (more or less than the given number) — the most popular type of betting in sports odds history in the US.
- Totals or over/under, where you have to bet on the total number of points in a game. The number of points is presented as a number. For example, 45, and you have the option to choose whether the final number of points will be over or under 45.
In the NFL, you can bet on individual games or the outcome of the whole season. The most popular types of odds concerning the NFL are the Superbowl gambling odds, which is not a surprise since Superbowl is the most-watched sports event in the US.
Baseball Betting Odds Explained
Moneyline and total odds are a part of both baseball and the NFL sports betting odds. But unlike the NFL, baseball doesn’t have traditional point spread odds. The run line is something similar, but it is specific to baseball.
The run line has two options, like point spread, but instead of points, it deals with runs. For example, the odds can show -2.5 runs +2.5 runs.
To understand how to win at sports betting with the run line, you need to know the following — if you bet on the favorite with -2.5 odds and they win with more than 3 runs, you win. If you bet on the underdog, and they win or lose with no more than 2 runs, your bet passes.
Like with the NFL, it is possible to bet on just one game, more games, or the season finale (so-called future odds).
MMA and UFC Betting Odds Explained
“How do betting odds work in the UFC?” and “how do betting odds work in MMA?” are the questions that often arise when talking about betting odds.
UFC and MMA bets normally use Moneyline odds. You can bet on the winner of the match, or you can also choose the way the match will end — by knockout, submission, or decision.
If you choose the winner and the knockout ending, and that happens, your ticket passes. Understanding how to read sports odds and their UFC and MMA variations is essential because these odds are likely to bring you more money.
Besides these odds, there are also round odds. These odds are similar to total odds, but instead of total points, you bet on the total rounds they will have.
If you need boxing betting odds explained, it’s enough to apply everything you learned for MMA and UFC.
Soccer Betting Odds Explained
Most popular soccer clubs come from Europe. Thus, most of the odds you can see connected to it are presented in either fractional or decimal odds. However, most sites allow you to see all the odds in the Moneyline style, as well.
Unlike American football odds, where you can have just a winner and loser, soccer can also have a draw.
In Moneyline odds, you may have two options where you only get – odd for the favorite and + odd for the underdog. If the team you betted on wins, you win, and if it’s a draw, you get a refund. Moneyline can also have three options with two odds for the teams and one with the draw.
Other options are point spreads — for the whole game or half a game, totals (over/under), and parlays.
Horse Racing Betting Odds Explained
Horse racing odds are rarely shown in the American system. British or fractional system is the way to go in horse racing. Fractional odds show how much you win on the left side with your wager on the right side.
Fractional sports betting odds explained in an approachable way are pretty simple to understand with some practice.
Now, horse betting odds explained in an example. If you see an odd like 8/1, this means that for each $1 you wager, you get 8 times more. If you bet the most standard bet of $100, you will get $800 + the $100 you wagered.
The odds change depending on the type of bet you choose. For a single bet where you guess just the winning horse, the odds are the smallest.
If you decide on exacta (first two horses), trifecta (first three horses), or superfecta (first four horses), the odds become larger, but the possibility becomes smaller.
Among these, trifecta bets statistically bring the most money with the least risk.
Why do I need to understand sports betting odds?
Understanding how sports odds work is important because they give you all the information you need.
The odds show you the amount of money you need to wager, as well as how much you will get if you win. When you know how to read sports odds, you also know who the favorite is and the probability of the teams winning or losing.
Who sets the odds for sports betting?
Linemakers or odd compilers set the odds for sports betting. Linemakers or odd compilers are people employed by the bookkeepers to calculate all the variables concerning the event and the money expected to be wagered on a match.
The odd compilers might have to change some odds last minute if many people bet on only one team/competitor.
(Bet HQ, Goal)
What is the easiest sport to bet on?
Soccer is the easiest sport to bet on, according to statistics. There are a small number of points in each game. Clubs with international superstars such as Messi and Ronaldo, who can always be expected to score a goal, are usually a safe bet.
Even for beginners, betting on soccer can be pretty safe and easy if you are not looking for big profits. Soccer betting can also be profitable, but a lot of knowledge and research needs to go into it.
What is the biggest sports bet ever?
The biggest known sports bet win was $1.2M. James Adducci placed an $85K wager on Tiger Woods’ Masters in 2019 and won.
However, the biggest wager ever placed was $5.9 million. This bet was placed by none other than Floyd Mayweather — a famous boxing star. He betted on the win of the Miami Heats in 2013 and won around $590,000.
To learn how do betting odds work in boxing, check out our boxing section above.
What are the odds of winning a sports bet?
Odds for a professional to win a sports bet go between 53% and 60%, but they don’t stay above 55% for long. The odds of winning a sports bet for others go around 50%.
Moreover, the main difference between professionals and rookies is in the number of bets they place per day and the money they earn.
If you’ve always wanted to know — how does sports betting work? — we’ve answered that and many more betting-related questions. Now, it should be easier for you to journey into the betting world.
To better understand sports betting and start winning big, the only thing left for you to do is get some practice and have a little bit of good luck.