Understanding Sports Odds – US, UK and EU

How to read sports betting odds in North America and beyond.

How to Read Sports Betting OddsToday, we continue our sports betting tutorial with a detailed, yet easy to understand guide to reading odds; a.k.a. lines, or moneylines. The lines vary by different regions of the world, segmented into American (US), British (UK) and European (EU).

American odds use positive and negative integers to depict moneylines. In the UK, fractional odds are the most common, where as European odds come in decimal format. Understanding sports odds is imperative to placing wagers at international online sportsbooks, as each website operator tends to utilize the its own region’s odds.

Further Reading: How to Bet on Sports Online; Straight Up Bets

How to Read Sports Betting Odds

Reading sports lines can be confusing, especially for Canadians who must utilize foreign odds when betting online. The following are the three types of sports odds you’ll come across, and how to read them.

American US Odds (- / +)

In the US, odds (aka Moneylines) are depicted with a – or + symbol. A – moneyline is a bet on the favorite to win, and the number that follows it depicts how much you need to wager to win $100. A + moneyline is a bet on the underdog, and depicts how much you’ll win if you bet $100. Here are some examples:

If the odds are -140, a bet of $140 will win $100. You’ll also receive your wager back, for a total payout of $240.

If the odds are +140, you will win $140 on a $100 wager. Again, your original bet is returned for a total payout is $240.

British UK Odds (Fractional)

In the UK, odds are written as fractions. The first number, behind the slash, shows the multiple of what you’ll win, compared to the second number, which depicts the bet size. Think of it as Payout/Bet. For example:

If the odds are 5/1, it’s an underdog bet that will pay 5-to-1, or $500 for a $100 bet. The total payout is $600, including the return of the original wager.

Odds of 1/5 would be a bet on a heavy favorite, paying 1-to-5, or $100 for a $500 bet. Again, total payout is $600 including original wager.

Harder to read odds might look like this; 9/11. In this case, the bet pays $9 for every $11 wagered. A $100 bet would pay $81.82. You can calculate this with the following formula:


European EU Odds (Decimal)

Everywhere else in Europe—and the most common in Canada—odds are displayed in decimal format. They depict a multiple of the exact amount you’ll get paid back, including your original wager. That’s the most important thing to remember, so I’ll repeat it. The return of your bet (for a win) is already included in the total! For example:

Odds of 2.00 will pay $100 for a $100 wager, with a total payout of $200 (including original wager). Thus multiplying your bet by 2.00 (the odds) gives you the total payout.

If the odds are 1.50, a bet of $100 will payout $50, plus your $100 back, for a total of $150 (1.5 x 100).

Why Understanding Sports Odds Matters

Obviously, knowing how much you stand to win for a particular bet is important. But there’s more to reading sports betting odds than sizing potential profits. When utilizing online sports betting sites, you have an opportunity to compare the odds and take the best ones.

As an informed punter, you should always know which pays better. For example, look at these odds:

US +250
UK 3/1
EU 3.75

Which is better? If those odds are being offered by three different websites, and you take the wrong one, you could be losing out on big money. The US +250 pays $250 for a $100 bet (total return $350). The UK 3/1 pays $300 for a $100 bet (total return $400). And the EU 3.75 pays $275 for a $100 bet (total return $375). Clearly, the UK 3/1 is the better way to go.

Next up in our guide to online sports betting, we’ll talk about different types of wagers that are easy for beginners to grasp. See our Guide to Easy Alternative Sport Bets, which covers points spreads, totals and over/unders. From there, our Advanced Sports Betting Tactics detail futures, parlays, teasers and pleasers.

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