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Navigating Betting Odds: A Novice’s Roadmap to Understanding Wager Values. Image: Supplied

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Navigating Betting Odds: A Novice’s Roadmap to Understanding Wager Values

These websites do diligent work covering all of the most popular sports, and even some less well-known betting competitions.

Gambling odds
Navigating Betting Odds: A Novice’s Roadmap to Understanding Wager Values. Image: Supplied

In the 21st century, sports betting has become a lot simpler because of online sportsbooks. These websites do diligent work covering all of the most popular sports, and even some less well-known competitions. They crunch the numbers, do the math, and bring out some interesting odds, that you can then use to place your bet. But, often, newbies can’t make heads or tails out of these odds. In this article, we are going to do our best to explain betting odds, wagers, and the sports betting industry in general.


As you might have guessed, odds refer to the probability that one team will defeat another. For example, when discussing Saturday football odds, what we are talking about are the chances that each of the clubs have to win the game. The odds are usually presented in positive or negative numbers, but sometimes you may find them in the form of percentages. 

It is easy to explain what odds are. The difficulty comes when it is time to explain how they work. Or at least that is what most people believe. In reality, reading odds is not as difficult as you may have been led to believe. Without further ado, let us get into the nitty gritty of this article, and discuss how you can read the wagering odds at online sportsbooks.


The first thing you need to be aware of are the different types of odds that sportsbooks use. The odds usually vary, depending on where the sportsbook is headquartered. The three main variations on sports betting odds are the following: 

  • Fractional (mainly used in Great Britain and Ireland)
  • Decimal (mainly used by European sportsbooks) 
  • Money line (primarily used in the United States of America) 

In the following segments of this article, we are going to discuss each of the three odd types individually, and explain how you can read each of them. If you’ve ever wanted to have some fun betting on your favorite sports, keep reading to learn more. 


Fractional odds are often also called “British,” because they are most popular in Great Britain and Ireland. They are usually represented using a hyphen or a forward slash. For newbies, fractional odds are likely the simplest way to get into sports betting. Let’s take a look at how they work. 

If you visit a sportsbook that uses fractional odds, you will likely see said odds represented as two numbers separated by a forward slash (example: 5/1). What this means is that you will win 5 Pounds against each 1 Pound wager, as well as receive your wager back. In other words, fractional odds represent the ratio on the initial wager.

Basically, if a punter bets on fractional odds and win, they will receive your initial wager back, as well as the amount you are owed. For example, Bettor A places a 10 Pound bet on fractional odds of 5/1, betting on Bayern Munich in the German Bundesliga. If the German club wins, Bettor A receives 50 Pounds for winning the bet, as well as their 10 Pounds that they wagered, so the total is 60 Pounds. 


Otherwise known as European odds, decimal odds are most popular in various European countries. This type of odds making has also been adopted by Australians, New Zealanders, and Canadians. It is likely the most popular way to make odds, so let us look at how it works. 

In terms of simplicity, decimal odds might be the easiest to grasp intuitively, as you can guess at favorites just by seeing the numbers. The decimal numbers used in these odds represent the amount of cash a punter can win by placing a 1 Euro wager. 

For example, let us take a look at a hypothetical match in the English Premier League. If Arsenal faces off against Manchester City, an odds maker might create odds like the following: 

  • Arsenal: 3.50
  • Manchester City: 1.2

The numbers represent the amount of Euros a punter might win for each 1 Euro bet. In other words, if Bettor B places a 100 Euro bet on Arsenal, and the Gunnars end up winning, said bettor would win 350 Euros. If the same thing happens for Manchester City, the Bettor B would have won 120 Euros. 

In other words, the team whose decimal point is lower is actually the favorite to win. If you know this, then it is simple to gather which ones are favorites and which ones are underdogs.


Money line odds, otherwise known as US odds or American odds, are probably the most complex way to create odds. Usually used solely in the USA, money line odds are represented by positive and negative numbers. In this final segment, we are taking a look at money line odds and how they work. 

In money line odds, favorites are marked by a minus (-). These negative numbers show the amount of money you need to stake in order to win $100. Underdogs, on the other hand, are marked by a plus (+) sign, and indicate how much money you will win by staking $100.

The best way to learn is with an example, so let us take a look at some hypothetical odds. Assuming that Bettor C is wagering on an American football match between the Bears and the Packers, let us say the odds makers have set up the following money line odds: 

  • Packers: +610
  • Bears: -832

If we take a look at those odds, we can see that the Packers, in this hypothetical scenario, are the underdog. Which means that, if Bettor C places a $100 bet on the Packers, and the team wins, the Bettor will get his $100 back, as well as $610, for a total of $710. 

However, if the same bettor is wagering on the Bears, he would need to place a $832 bet in order to win $100. If they do so, they will receive their stake back, as well as the $100, for a total of $932.