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Matthew Jones
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Matthew Jones
Last Updated:
November 3, 2020
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This author was thoroughly tested and approved by the experts at BettingBilly.com before joining the editorial board to ensure a high content quality.
Author Bio:
 
Matthew is a former journalist and entrepreneur. Before he turned 18 he'd already started an online-shop, grew it to more than $1m in sales and sold it. Together with Richard he is now in charge of BettigBilly. His specialties are gambling mathematics and creating winning betting strategies.
Matthew is a former journalist and entrepreneur. Before he turned 18 he'd already started an online-shop, grew it to more than $1m in sales and sold it. Together with Richard he is now in charge of BettigBilly. His specialties are gambling mathematics and creating winning betting strategies.

Betting Odds 2020

Sports betting odds are essential to any sports wagering experience. They tell the bettor which team or player is the favorite and which is the underdog.

However, betting odds are also a problem for betting beginners. They don't always understand how betting odds work and find the different types of sports odds confusing.

Fortunately, Billy can help. If you want to have betting odds explained, the proper way, you have come to the right place.

The purpose of sports betting odds

Sports betting odds show the probability of an outcome happening. The lower the odds are, the more likely the outcome of coming to fruition. In contrast, when betting odds are high, this means that the chances for the outcome occurring are slimmer.

For example, if you are betting on an NHL game between Detroit Red Wings and Carolina Hurricanes these are the sports odds you would get:

Moneyline including overtime: Detroit Red Wings (+215) - Carolina Hurricanes (-263).

The Hurricanes come with significantly lower sports odds in this game. This means that they are the favorites. Backing them with a $100 stake would return a profit of only $38.

The Red Wings, on the other hand, are the underdog in this hockey game. Their chances for winning are quite slim and that's why bookmakers give them high betting odds.

Backing the Red Wings with the same $100 bet would return an excellent profit of $215. However, the chances for this to happen are not great.

Different types of sports odds

There are three different types of sports odds. These are American, decimal, and fractional. American odds are used in North America; decimal odds are mostly used in Europe, while fractional odds are popular in the UK.

We will explain all of these with some examples in a minute, but for now, you should just know the following:

  • Positive American odds tell you the profit you would get with a $100 stake;
  • Negative American odds tell you how much you need to bet to get a $100 profit;
  • Decimal odds tell you the total winnings (stake included) when you multiply the odds and stake;
  • Fractional odds tell you the profit you would get with a certain stake.

Let's explain all of these betting odds briefly. Let's say you are betting on positive American odds of +200. This means to get a clean profit of $200 you need to place a bet of $100.

This works slightly differently with negative American odds. Negative sports odds of -200 tell you that you would need to stake $200 on your bet so that you can win a clean profit of $100.

American odds of +200 translate to decimal odds of 3.00. As you can see, placing $100 on decimal odds of 3.00 gives you total winnings of $300 (100*3.00=300).

Lastly, American betting odds of +200 are the same as fractional odds of 2/1. These fractional or UK odds tell you that to have a clean profit of $2, you have to bet $1.

How betting odds work

To understand how betting odds work you need to first understand probabilities of outcomes. Let's say you are betting on a perfect coin toss. The chances the outcome will be heads or tails is a perfect 50/50. This means that out of 20 coin tosses, 10 would theoretically land on heads and 10 on tails.

In betting odds, this would mean that the heads outcome will come with American odds of +100 and the same will be true for the tails outcome. Odds of +100 mean that there is a 50% probability for an outcome to occur.

You don't necessarily need to know this to bet, but if you want to calculate probability from betting odds, you should use the following formulas:

  • Negative American odds: Negative odds / (Negative odds+100)*100 = probability
    • g. 100 odds / (100 odds + 100)*100 = 50% probability
  • Positive American odds: 100 / (Positive odds + 100)*100 = probability
    • g. 100 / (100 odds + 100)*100 = 50% probability

Let's explain this with a real-world example. The LA Lakers are playing against the LA Clippers in a hypothetical NBA game. The Lakers have a 60% probability to win the game in 2-way moneyline and the Clippers come with a 40% probability. The betting odds for this NBA game will be as follows:

  • Moneyline odds: LA Lakers (-150) - LA Clippers (+150).

If you use the formula from above, you will see that the sports betting odds do indeed correspond to these probabilities. Sports odds of -150 are the same as 60% probability and betting odds of +150 stand for 40% probability.

'Real' (no margin) odds

However, the odds in the NBA game above aren’t the odds that you would get at a sportsbook. This is because they come without a bookmaker's margin. Let's explain these concepts.

An NFL game with 'real' odds

Let's say the game you are betting on is the NFL duel between the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers. These are two evenly matched teams so let's say that the Cowboys come with a 53% probability to win and the Steelers come with 47% probability. These are the NFL betting odds you would get:

  • Moneyline odds: Dallas Cowboys (-113) - Pittsburgh Steelers (+113)

As you can see, when you add the two teams' probabilities together you get 100% (53% + 47%). This means that this is a real-world example with 'real' odds.

Odds with bookmaker’s margin

However, these real betting odds are of little use as no sportsbook offers them. All betting odds that people are betting on these days are sports odds with a bookmaker’s margin.

The bookmaker’s margin, also known as edge, is used for one purpose only - to give the sports betting provider an edge over the player. Mind you, there's nothing wrong with this.

After all, if the sportsbook offers odds without a margin, at the end of the day, it is likely that there will be zero profit for the betting company. With betting edges, the bookmaker ensures that he will have an edge and a small profit regardless of the outcome of a game.

An NFL game with bookmaker’s odds

Let's look at the same NFL game, but now with the margin included. This means that after the two probabilities have been added together, the outcome must be higher than 100%. The difference between the probabilities' total and 100 is the edge the sportsbook has. Let's look at the betting odds and calculate the new probabilities:

  • Moneyline odds at a real bookmaker: Dallas Cowboys (-123) - Pittsburgh Steelers (+106)
    • Cowboys' probability to win: 123 / (123+100)*100 = 15%
    • Steelers' probability to win: 100 / (106+100)*100 = 54%

This time the probability is higher than 100%. It is around 103.7%. This means that the margin that the betting provider works with is 3.7%.

As a rule of thumb, it is always better to place bets at sportsbooks which have lower margins. 3.7% is an excellent margin and means that this bookmaker has some of the best odds out there.

Unfortunately, not all bookmakers are like this. Most of them work with edges in the 4%-8% range, while some work with high 10% margins.

However, it’s not all bad news here. Even when bookmakers work with some astronomically high margins, you can still make an excellent profit if you use the right betting strategy such as the Kelly criterion.

Combine a successful strategy with the right picks and you are almost guaranteed to have constant betting cash flow. The best way to do this is to bet on Billy's value picks of course.

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Betting odds explained

It's probably much easier to understand odds after going through the examples above. However, betting odds can be explained even better if we put them side by side and compare them.

Let's see how American, decimal, and fractional sports betting odds would work in the real world.

American odds explained

The match that you are going to 'bet' on in this example is once again from the NFL. It is a David versus Goliath duel in which big favorites, Kansas City Chiefs, are playing against the Los Angeles Chargers. These are the American betting odds you can expect to see:

  • Kansas City Chiefs (-455) - Los Angeles Chargers (+350).

As you can see from the sports odds given, backing the Chiefs (-455) doesn't pay much. If you want to have a $100 profit, you would have to bet $455. That's a huge investment, but seeing how the Chiefs are the superior side here, it's probably worth it.

In contrast, backing the Los Angeles Chargers (+350) can be much more profitable. The same $100 bet would bring you a clean profit of $350. However, it is unlikely that the Chargers can win here, so do that at your own risk.

Decimal odds explained

Let's use the same Chiefs-Chargers game to explain how the other two types of sports betting odds work. The same game, but with decimal betting odds would look something like this:

  • Kansas City Chiefs (1.22) - Los Angeles Chargers (4.50).

To get your total winnings when decimal odds are used you should multiply the odds with the stake.

Let's say you use the same $455 stake on the Chiefs as above. If you multiply $455 by 1.22, you will get $555. That is the same $100 profit as with American betting odds.

The same happens when you multiply the Chargers $100 stake with their odds of 4.50. 100 multiplied by 4.50 is exactly $450. Once again, this is the same profit of $350 as with American sports odds.

Fractional odds explained

Lastly, let's look at the same game, but now with fractional odds:

  • Kansas City Chiefs (2/9) - Los Angeles Chargers (7/2).

If you back the Chiefs with a $9 stake you will get a clean profit of $2. If you back, the Chargers with $2, you will get a clean profit of $7. That's how fractional odds work. The bottom number tells you how much money you need to bet to get a clean profit which is the same as the top number.

To go full circle here, let's use the same stakes as in the other two examples and see if everything checks out once again.

If you back the Kansas City Chiefs with a stake of $455, you would get the following:

  • 455*2/9 = $100 - identical as before.

Backing the Chargers with a $100 stake, on the other hand, will give you the following profit:

  • 100*7/2 = $350 - identical as before.

This means that regardless of which betting odds you use, the winning amount will always be the same. American, decimal, and fractional odds produce the same winnings, but present them in different ways.

Betting odds: Try them now at one of the top 5 betting sites

Now that you know how betting odds work, you are ready to take that knowledge and turn it into cold hard cash.

However, don't forget to look for betting sites that offer high betting odds. There's not much use in betting on the best football and baseball matches if you cannot capitalize on high odds.

Fortunately, when looking for high odds, you should look no further than the top 5 betting sites listed here.

 
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Conclusion: Look for high odds and low margins
Betting enthusiasts must understand sports odds if they want to have successful bets. There are three main types of betting odds: American, decimal, and fractional.

All of these give the same profit on the same stake. The only difference between them is what aspect of the bet they show.

Most bookmakers offer decent odds, but if you want to get the most out of a bet, you should look for bookmakers with low margins.

Find the best Sportsbook now!