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This post is for those looking to get into sports betting and understand what they are betting on, or how to “Read a Bet”. If you’re already a sports betting guru, you might want to skip this article and check out one of our more advanced ones.
What do the assorted numbers, decimals, fractions and percentages mean when you are reading a sports betting site? We’ll dive into American, decimal, and fractional odds – what they mean, how they are created and, most importantly, how they can make you money!
American odds are the most common type of odds for USA-based sportsbooks (naturally). American odds are represented as +XXX, -XXX values. They are based on $100, with the math differing between positive and negative odds. A positive (+) value means a team is the underdog, and a negative (-) indicates they are the favorite. When betting on the underdog, you win more money (+) per dollar wagered, and when betting on the favorite you win less (-). (Read a Bet | Read a Bet)
For positive odds (+), you can read the odds as “If I wager $100, I will win odds”.
For negative odds (-), you read it as “If I wager odds, I will win $100”.
As an example, let’s say the money line odds are Home Team -200, Away Team +150.
If you wager $200 on the favorite Home Team at -200 odds, and they win, your profit is $100. The implied probability of this win according to the odds is 66.7% (We’ll dig into implied probability deeper later on.)
If you bet on the underdog Away Team at +150, you can bet that same $200 and win $300. According to the numbers, the implied probability of this win is set at 40.0%.
Quick Math Tip: You can detect an Arb by adding the two numbers together! If it’s greater than 0, you can bet on both sides and be guaranteed to make money! (Read a Bet | Read a Bet | Read a Bet)
American odds typically range from -1000 to +1000, but they can be even more extreme than that for especially lopsided games. A perfectly balanced game would be priced at +100 for both sides. In practice, you’ll see balanced odds (such as over/unders) usually hover around -110 per side, because Las Vegas takes a cut of every wager.
Decimal Odds | Read a Bet
Decimal odds are more common outside the USA. They are represented as +Y.Y, -Y.Y values. These odds represent the total amount won per $1 wagered. Decimal odds of 2.0 would be exactly even for both sides.
With decimal odds, the favorite is represented with odds less than 2.0, whereas the underdog has odds greater than 2.0. If you just remember 2.0 is the middle, higher odds mean more money on a win by the underdog – (+) American – and lower odds (-) American – mean less money won with a win by the favorite. (Read a Bet | Read a Bet | Read a Bet)
Decimal odds are much easier to do calculations with than American odds – you just multiply your wager times the odds! One thing to note is that the resulting number includes your initial wager, unlike American odds, so you’ll need to subtract that at the end in order to have an apples-to-apples comparison.
Let’s use the same example from above, but with the odds in decimal format. The decimal odds are Home Team 1.5, Away Team 2.5.
If you wager the same $200 on the favorite at 1.5 decimal odds, you win $200*1.5=$300! After subtracting your initial $200 wager, you get $300-200=$100 profit, just like with the American odds.
Likewise, the math for the underdog matches up: $200*2.5=$500, and $500-$200=$300.
The values of decimal odds start and 1 and go up.
All odds represent the implied probability of that outcome occurring, as determined by the bookmaker (bookie). There are several reasons odds differ slightly between bookies, but we’ll save that for a later post.
To calculate implied probability, take 1 and divide by the decimal odds (1.5, 2.5). 1/1.5=66.7%, 1/2.5=40%
Remember how we pointed out early that you can spot an Arb from American odds? That works here, too – if the implied probability is less than 100%, you can bet both sides and guarantee a profit! Think about it – if you bet on a team to win and lose (assuming no ties allowed), there’s a 100% chance one of those two things happens. If Vegas thinks there’s less than a 100% of one of those two things happening, that’s your time to pounce and get some free money!
If you don’t want to do these calculations by hand (who does, am I right?), this is an excellent online calculator to do it for you.
Want to learn how to create better sports betting strategies? Ready to get started on your betting? Contact BetsBooster to learn more and to get started on your bets today!