How to Read Betting Odds and Calculate Profits

If you are new to betting, the experience might be slightly confusing. You should learn many different things before placing your first wager, such as different types of bets and betting markets. However, before anything, you must learn how to read betting odds, as they are the backbone of every betting site.

Once you learn this, you can determine whether the bookie favours a team. You can also easily calculate how much you can earn by betting on them, which can significantly help you decide whether placing a wager on a specific match is even worth the risk.

6 Quick Facts About Understanding Sports Betting Odds

  • All bookmakers use decimal, fractional, and moneyline odds.
  • Moneyline odds show you how much you can win by betting $100.
  • The most popular type of betting odds is fractional odds.
  • Decimal odds are by far the easiest to understand.
  • Moneyline odds are also known as American odds since they are used in the US.
  • Moneyline, fractional, and decimal odds are used across all sports and different betting markets.

Sports Betting Odds Explained

The odds are the numbers written down next to a betting selection, and a betting selection can include a teams’ or players’ names, the number of goals or corners, and much more. The betting odds serve a simple purpose and indicate how favourable a team is to win according to a bookmaker.

So, how to read football betting odds exactly? Well, it’s rather simple. The lower the odds on a team, the more favourable they are to win, which also means less profit in case you are to win a wager after betting on them.

Bookmakers use three different types of betting odds. Even though these odds types are written differently, they represent the same thing, only in a slightly different format. To help you get started and learn more about how to read betting odds, we will explain each of these betting odds types and show you how to calculate them.

How To Interpret Decimal Betting Odds

Decimal odds are most often used by bookmakers across Europe, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. Out of the three, they are the easiest to understand, which is why we will focus on them first.

As the name suggests, decimal odds are written with a decimal point — 1.4, 2.1, or 4.5, for example. To help you learn how to understand betting odds, let’s take a closer look at the examples we’ve given.

Out of the three odds we mentioned, a team that is given the odds of 1.4 is a favourite, while the team with the odds of 4.5 would be considered an underdog. In other words, the lower the number, the more favourable a team is to win.

As you can see, learning how to understand decimal odds in betting is extremely easy and calculating them is even easier. To calculate your potential profits, simply multiply the odds by the amount you initially bet, and you will end up with the total payout.

For example, if you were to bet £10 on a selection with the odds of 2.1, you would win £21 in total since 2.1 x 10 equals 21.

While the decimal odds are straightforward and it will take you minutes to learn how to interpret decimal betting odds, there is one thing that you should be mindful of. Namely, your initial stake is not returned upon winning alongside the profit you made and is instead calculated into the total payout from the start.

How Do Fractional Betting Odds Work

Even though fractional odds might seem a tad more complex than decimal odds, they’re just as easy to master once you get the hang of it. Fractional odds got their name because they are written as a mathematical fraction, similar to the decimal betting odds we already explained.

You will see them written as 3/1, 4/3, or 11/7, for example. They are also announced as three to one, four to three, and eleven to seven, respectively. The easiest way to learn how to understand fractional betting odds is to remember that you would be winning £3 for every £1 you bet, in case you see fractional odds written as 3/1.

Fractional odds are used to calculate the profit rather than the total payout. To calculate the winnings, you would first multiply your initial stake with the top or the first number, known as the numerator, then divide it with the lower/second number called a denominator.

So, how do fractional betting odds work in practice? Let’s say that you decided to bet £10 on a match between Manchester City and Aston Villa. Now, let’s say that Aston Villa is the underdog, and the bookies have given them the odds of 3/1 and you decided to wager on them. In this case, the equation to calculate your profit would look like (10 x 3) / 1, which means that you would win £30 from your bet.

How To Read Moneyline Betting Odds

Moneyline odds are most often used in the US. They are written as a number preceded by either a plus sign, which indicates an underdog, or the minus sign, indicating a favourite. As far as the number goes, it represents how much money you will win for betting $100.

When it comes to learning how to read betting odds like moneyline, you should know that the higher the odds, the more of a favourite or the underdog a team is.

For example, let’s say that you’re placing an outright bet on a team to win the entire championship, and the bookie has given the following odds:

LA Lakers: +900

Brooklyn Nets +400

Orlando Magic -750

In this scenario, Brooklyn Nets have good chances to win the championship, but the LA Lakers are a big favourite, whereas Orlando Magic is the underdog.

However, learning how to understand moneyline odds in betting is one thing, but calculating potential profits is another. Let’s say that you plan on betting on a basketball match between the Brooklyn Nets and the Orlando Magic.

Since the Nets are second in the Eastern Conference at the time of writing this piece, they would be a clear favourite against Orlando Magic, who are at the bottom of the board. In this case, bookies would, for example, give the Nets -650 and +700 to the Magic.

Unlike with the decimal and fractional betting odds we explained, there is not much math involved when calculating the money line odds. Namely, if you were to bet $100 on the Orlando Magic, you would win $700 and have your stake of $100 returned for a total payout of $800. However, if you were to bet on the Nets, you would need to bet $650 to win $100. In case you win, you would receive $750 in total.


As you can see, there’s nothing too difficult about mastering how the odds work and learning to calculate potential profit. Once you get the hang of it and you begin understanding sports betting odds, it won’t even take a second for you to differentiate between which team is a favourite and which one is the underdog.

Moreover, since these odds are used across all sports and different betting markets, by learning how to read betting odds, you will be able to bet on any sport to your liking.

Table of Contents
6 Quick Facts About Understanding Sports Betting Odds Sports Betting Odds Explained How To Interpret Decimal Betting Odds How Do Fractional Betting Odds Work How To Read Moneyline Betting Odds Summary
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