Some choose to rely on their knowledge of the game, and some leave it up to chance. But if you want to get serious about sports betting and ensure your best chances of winning, then it’s best that you gain a solid understand of odds.

Odds are useful to bettors for two major reasons:

  1. Giving an estimate of how likely the bet is to succeed.
  2. Calculating how much the bet will pay out.

There are three main odds formats commonly used in sports betting. Often, they may be listed together, and though they may seem different at a glance, they are all simply different ways of representing the same thing.

Decimal Odds

Decimal odds are generally the most commonly used format around the world, being easy to understand, and also the quickest way for bettors to calculate their winnings. Here is an example:

New England Patriots 2.6
Buffalo Bills 1.4

The payout for New England Patriots is 2.6 for every $10 wagered. So, 2.6 x 10 = $26 payout.
A $100 bet would give you $260, and so on. Though the numbers themselves are indicators, to calculate the implied probability of the team winning, simply divide 1 by the decimal odds, then multiply by 100 to get the percentage. E.g., 1 ÷ 2.6 x 100 = 38.46 percent. So, as the underdog, this is a risky but more rewarding bet.

The payout for Buffalo Bills would therefore be $14 for every $10 wager, with an implied probability of 71.43 percent chance of winning. Less payout, but a far safer bet.

You will notice that, when adding the implied probability of each team, it reaches over 100 percent in total. The extra percentage indicates what is commonly referred to as “vigorish”. This is basically the fee or tax taken by sportbooks for each bet, similar to how “house edge” is used in casinos.

American Odds

American odds are most commonly used in the US and are useful to know when betting on certain sports, such as American football. Here is an example:

New England Patriots +160
Buffalo Bills -240

The + and – signs before the odds indicated whether a $100 wager stands to win or lose the amount shown. I.e. The underdogs +, and the favourites -.

So, a $100 wager on New England Patriots will win $160, resulting in $260 payout. A $10 wager therefore gives you $26.

A wager on Buffalo Bills means the bettor will have to pay $240 to win $100. As with the decimal odds, a $100 wager here will therefore give you $140, and $10 wager gets you $14.

Fractional Odds

Fractional odds are not as commonly used by sportsbooks nowadays or at sites like Big Dollar Casino, but they are still used, especially for futures bets. The fractional odds of the above teams would be as follows:

New England Patriots 8/5
Buffalo Bills 2/5

For the Patriots, the payout is $8 for every $5 wagered. And for the Bills, $2 for every $5 wagered.
To convert this to decimal odds, divide the numbers and add 1, e.g. (8 ÷ 5) + 1 = 2.6.