How Do Sports Betting Odds Work?

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Sportsbooks offer punters odds on every Sportsbet. Odds indicate the likelihood of a booked game occurrence. As a newbie or regular punter, it is essential to have an understanding of how these betting odds are calculated and how they work.

Odds are basically calculated based on the statistical records of players or teams’ previous performances. The betting odds for a given event/match often differ depending on the sportsbook, sport type, and location. Sometimes, bookmakers may strategically increase or decrease odds as a match approaches.  

Why Odds Differ Based on a Sportsbook

Odds differ among bookmakers because of the following:

  • The likelihood of occurrence of sporting events is calculated in various ways by bookmakers sites like Sportsbet. Therefore, a bookmaker perspective on the likelihood of occurrence of the same event may vary, leading to slight differences in odds.

  • They add their house edge when setting their odds.

  • Strategic reasons.

Types of Betting Odds and How to Read Them

Betting odds are expressed in either of three formats; fractional, decimal, or American. In any way, the trio is the same as they indicate winning potential although they are represented in different ways.

  • Fractional Odds: This type of odd is also known as the UK Odds.  As the name implies, it is expressed as fractions. It shows the total potential win that will be paid to punters based on the amount wagered.

For instance, if the fractional odds of the match between Bayern Munich and Tottenham Hotspur are presented as follows.

Bayern Munich vs. Tottenham Hotspur

             1/5                     5/1

This simply means that a punter supporting Tottenham Hotspur with a stake of £1 will expect a potential winning of £5 (£1x5= 5 plus a return of the stake amount, which is £1, totaling to £6). On the other hand, a punter supporting Bayern Munich to be victorious in the match will receive a total payout of £6 for every £5 placed bet.

  • American Odds: This odds type is widely used in the United States. These odds work separately for the underdogs and favorites. However, the letters “PK” may be displayed to show that there is no underdog or favorite in a given match. As usual, the underdog is presented with positive odds, while the favorite is presented with negative odds (an example is described below). When a bet is placed on the underdog, the positive number indicates the amount you will win if you place a bet of $100. On the other hand, choosing the favorite indicates the amount you have to bet to win $100.

For instance, a match between Vancouver Whitecaps and Atlanta United may be expressed in American odds as follows.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Atlanta United

+750                              -325

Underdog                               Favorite

  • Decimal Odds: As the name implies, decimal odds are expressed as fractions and are otherwise referred to as the European odd. Most punters find this format easy to understand. For instance, the odds in a match between France and Croatia are presented as follows.

France vs. Croatia

1.5        3.0

If a punter chooses to place a bet of £3 on France, the potential winnings will be the odds multiplied by the amount wagered. £3 x 1.5= £4.5. On the other hand, if another punter chooses to place a bet of £5 on Croatia, the potential winnings will be £5 x 3= £15.


In gambling, odd values are fixed by bookmakers. It reveals the amount a player will earn from wagering on the occurrence or non-occurrence of an event. A high odd indicates a lower chance of occurrence of a placed bet, but the higher will be a punter’s potential winnings in relation to the wager amount.

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