Sports Betting Odds Explained

Getting to grips with the odds in sports betting

Sports betting is as popular as ever and a top option for gamblers looking to place a bet on their favourite sport or player. Gamblers relish the world of sports betting, which comes with various markets, including NFL, NBA, NHL, FIFA, horse racing, boxing, MMA, tennis and more. In fact, sports betting attracts millions of bettors around the world.

Before you can truly enjoy the benefits of sports betting and successful bets, it is important to understand how it works, particularly how the odds work for different markets. Betting is not the same across the board, but our helpful guide will ensure you learn the ins and outs before betting real money on your favourite sport. In this way, you can truly get the most out of your betting experience and even walk away a winner.

How Do Sports Betting Odds Work?

Sport betting odds is based on the concept of giving the player an idea of how likely it is for win and potentially how much money you could make if successful. Basically, it gives you a quick idea of what team/player has the best chance of winning (favourite) and who has the least chance of winning (underdog).

To work out the odds for each game, bookmakers look at a variety of factors, including comparisons with other sportsbooks and outcomes of previous games. However, the odds will be readjusted in real time to include factors like injuries, weather, and more. Sports betting odds vary but typically fall under the following categories:

Fractional Odds

Horse favorite list

These are considered to be the most common type of odds, although referred to as ‘traditional odds’. These odds refer to how much a bettor will win from the bet placed versus the amount being bet. The benefit of fractional odds is that it is flexible and allows you to work out your possible wins based on the bet you’ve placed. Also, your stake is returned on any winning bet. That said, new bettors unfamiliar with fractional odds will likely find it hard to work out their chance of success and it does take some getting used to. Also, remember that odds can fluctuate leading up to and even during an event, so it would serve you well to understand that odds are only an estimate of success at a particular time and can change before or after a bet is placed.

example odds money
example winodds-fractional-probability

American Odds


As the name suggests, these odds are most popular in the US and actually work completely different to fractional odds. Here, odds operate separately for favourites and underdogs and are also referred to as ‘moneyline odds’. Moneyline odds are based on how much money would have to be bet to win a certain amount. However, underdog bet odds are represented differently. Instead, the odds represent how much you would win based on how much you bet.

odds-american example

Decimal Odds

odds-american example
Outright example

Decimal odds have become more popular over time, particularly in Europe and Australia. That said, younger bettors seem to favour decimal odds as well. These odds represent how much a bettor will win without stating the required bet. While this may seem daunting and a preferred method used by seasoned bettors, it actually offers insight into your potential winnings as well as the stake required, making it a very popular alternative to traditional odds and quite a prevalent option at sport betting sites.


Betting On Your Smartphone

Mobile gaming has really taken off in recent years, whether it's online casino gambling, live tables or sports betting, among others. Betting on your mobile device is as quick and easy as betting on a website, whether instantly from your web browser or through a dedicated app. It is also the most efficient way to keep track of the latest odds while on the go. Simply visit the site’s website or load the app for the latest odds and results, all available live. Players can also place bets directly from your mobile smartphone or tablet before the event. These days, thanks to in-play betting, bets can even be placed during the event (depending on the event and where you are playing).

Just like online casinos, sports betting on your mobile device opens up a more convenient and flexible world for players while on the go. Apps works well for sports betting as everything is loaded fast and efficiently. As long as you have a stable internet connection and a compatible device, sports betting will be a breeze anytime, anywhere. Additionally, apps offer the option of notifications, which allow you to get the latest updates without even going into the app, making it great to place a bet at the best time possible.

How to Choose Odds

Choosing odds is purely based on personal preference and what method you’re comfortable with. In many cases, the most popular odds will be based on where you live, for example, the UK will favour fractional odds while American players will favour moneyline odds. That said, bettors are not forced to choose the odds based on where they live, but it could affect what odds are available. In most cases, sports betting sites will allow bettors to choose the type of odds you want to view when placing a bet. Additionally, odds calculators exist that help you work out the different types of odds to help you make the best decision.

Ultimately, the type of odds you use won’t have an impact in the outcome. You do not have a better chance of winning or losing based on how you choose to view the odds. As such, it is recommended to choose odds that you understand the most so you know what’s at stake without being confused by the calculations. Mathematics and the concept of probability are not easy topics to grasp, so we suggest sticking to odds you understand the most.

How to Choose Odds element

Quick tips for placing your bet

Now that you have a better understanding about odds and the role it plays in sports betting, you can use this information to improve betting strategy. It will not guarantee wins, but it will help you make better decisions and avoid losing more than you can afford. That said, there are some other tips that can be helpful when betting on sports.

Don’t stick to one sportsbook

Shop around before making a decision on what sportsbook to use. There are plenty of big names in the game as well as smaller bookmakers offering great odds and a variety of betting markets. Some sportsbooks update their odds more often than others, while others may not offer the odds you’re most comfortable with. So, take your time to find a bookmaker that ticks all your boxes before starting your sports betting journey.

Know the risks

Use your knowledge of how odds work to anticipate the level of risk when betting on an underdog. Low risk means low returns, although many bettors will not take risky bets despite huge reward potential as the odds are just not in their favour. Decide how much of a risk you want to take before placing your bet.

Stay updated

Do as much research as you can and try to stay in the know. If you have insider knowledge, use it. Follow industry professionals and sports fans and find out who, or what people are talking about. Twitter is always a good place to join the conversation, while simple forums and discussion boards are also helpful, and often less volatile. Ideally, you should do as much research as possible before making a wager.

Check the odds regularly

As already mentioned, odds can change at the drop of a hat, even after your bet is placed. While mulling over whether to bet or not, check back regularly. If the odds fluctuate drastically, this will likely mean that there has been a change and this may affect who you want to bet on and how much you want to wager.


Sports betting odds are a way for players to understand their chances of winning a particular event, match or game. In this way, a bettor can decide how to wager and how much to wager based on a desired outcome. Bookmakers typically provide the odds, allowing bettors to view and make an informed decision based on their chances of success.

Bookmakers provide odds for every side of a bet, and while these are helpful for bettors when making a decision, it is a known fact that the house always has the edge, even in sports betting. The odds are worked out in a number of ways and based on several factors. It can also fluctuate based on events that may change the outcome of the game, for example, weather conditions or a key team member being injured. Odds are designed to offer an idea of your chance of winning and how much needs to be wagered to achieve that goal.

Yes, odds can fluctuate based on various factors before an event takes place and sometimes during the event as well. Keep in mind that odds can change after a bet has been placed. It is always a good idea to keep updated on the latest odds and check in regularly, especially if you’re on the fence about making a bet. Some factors that can affect odds include the amount of money in the market, the general betting patterns of the public and any events leading up to the game. Odds don’t always change but it’s good to check in regularly to avoid disappointment.

Yes, the more popular the sport, the more robust the betting market will be. For example, hockey is popular Stateside but not so much in the UK. That means hockey will enjoy huge sums of money in the US betting market, and this increase in money in the market will have an effect on the odds. Less popular sports will likely have less favourable odds as there is less money in the market.

Certain odds can be considered to be better or worse in value, although newbies will find it hard to distinguish between the two. Once you have a solid understanding of odds and how you can benefit from it, you’ll be able to take advantage of better value odds, or any value odds for that matter.

Sometimes, new players can struggle to find a sports betting site to suit their needs and preferences. With so many options available, weeding out the good from the bad can be tricky, time consuming and even overwhelming. That’s why we do all the hard work for you. Our team of experts are fully equipped and dedicated to reviewing and testing a wide range of popular and new sportsbooks, whether already established or new to the market. With our insights and expertise, not to mention our detailed and thorough reviews, bettors can not only learn more about the exciting pastime that is sports betting, but learn how to take advantage of odds to get the best out of your betting experience. While sports betting, like any other type of gambling, does come with certain risks, armed with the right information, anyone can enjoy some successful sports betting from the comfort of your home or while on the move.