Odds formats explained
There are three main types of odds used by sports and racing betting sites worldwide: moneyline, decimal and fractional. Here we explain all three so no matter where you are betting, you understand what your return will be if your horse, team or player wins.
Of course, many online betting sites these days will give you the option of viewing the odds in your preferred format, but if you are serious about your sports betting you need to be able to quickly understand the prices on offer regardless. You would not want to take under the best odds available simply because of a misunderstanding about how each format works.
Moneyline or American odds are the default odds for sportsbooks and gamblers in the United States and quite simple to understand.
The prices are displayed preceded by either a minus or a plus symbol. For example a head-to-head match might be set at -138 for Team A and +110 for Team B.
For Team A, the -138 indicate the number of units you must be on them to win 100 units in profit. So if you invested $138 on them, for example, and they win, the total return will be $238.
For Team B, the outsiders in this example, the +110 indicates the amount of the profit you will make if you invest 100 units on them. So a winning $100 bet on them would return $210.
In short, if the sportsbook’s figure is preceded by a negative symbol, that’s the amount you must bet to profit 100 units; if it’s a positive that’s that amount you could profit from a 100-unit bet.
US serving online betting sites like BetOnline give you the option to choose what format you want your prices displayed in, but the general default will be American odds.
Decimal odds are used all around the world but most commonly in Europe and Australasia. Arguably the easiest of all odds formats to understand, and are regularly used on betting exchanges such as Betfair.
You simply multiply the decimal odds on offer at a sportsbook by your stake to find out your total return (note your stake is already included in this).
For example if you wager 10 units on Team A at odds of 1.65 and they win, your total return will be 10 x 1.65 = 16.5 units.
Fractional odds are the old school prices still found in horse racing, particularly in Britain. They are a little idiosyncratic in that they leave larger gaps than the other forms of betting. One single turn of a bookmaker’s board using fractional can make a far bigger difference than what happens with the other two formats.
Fractional odds tell you the amount of profit relative to how much you invest. For example, if you invest 4 units on a horse at, say, 7-4, and it wins, you would profit by 7 units for a total collect of 11 units.
If you invest 10 units at 10-1 when sports betting, your total return is potentially 110 units.
Fractional odds are now probably the least used of the three formats.
Conversion chart of odds formats