American Odds Explained: Learn How To Read And Use American Odds

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American odds are also known as moneyline odds. You will see these odds format in betting sites catering to American sports bettors. 

People from other parts of the world will rarely see this format, as odds outside the US are displayed as decimals or fractions. 

In this guide, we cover the brass tacks on American Odds; what they are, and how to read and convert them. 

What Are American Odds? 

American odds are among the easiest to understand as odds are displayed with a plus (+) or minus (-) sign. The plus or minus signs indicate;

  • The amount you need to wager to win $100
  • The amount you would win for every $100 wagered

How To Read American Odds

American odds revolve around winning or wagering $100 on any given bet. This does not necessarily mean you have to wager $100. What you win fluctuates depending on how much you choose to wager. 

In a bet, there will be two sides. One will be the favorite, and the other the underdog. 

Favorites are the teams touted to win. These come listed with a – (minus) symbol attached. The higher the value of this number, the higher their chance of winning is.

For example:

  • Team A’s odds are: -200
  • Team B’s odds are: -120

Both the above teams are favorites in two different matches. However, Team A, with -200, has a higher chance of winning its event than Team B. Why? Simply because 200 is higher than 120. When making these interpretations, ignore the – sign, and take the absolute value of the numerical provided. 

Underdogs come with a + (plus) sign attached. With this one, the higher the number, the more of an underdog the team is considered to be. 

Supposing we have:

  • Team C: +200
  • Team D: + 500

Both these teams are underdogs. However, Team C has a better chance to win at +200 than Team D does at +500. This is because the higher the number, the more of an underdog a team is. In essence, the higher the numerical attached to a team is, the higher their chances of losing an event are. 

The next thing to understand is the + or – sign Vis a Vis your wager. 

If you are betting a favorite, the odds of the favorite team will have the – sign, as discussed earlier. In addition, the amount you need to risk to win $100 will also be indicated. 


Say you want to bet on a Yankees game, and it’s the favorite with -130. Here, you will need to wager $130 to win $100. Should your team win, you get your stake and your $100 win. 

When you go with an underdog on a bet, there will be a + sign and a figure showing you the cash you stand to win for every $100 you stake. 


You have the Detroit Tigers at +120. Should they win, you will win 120 should you risk $100, plus your $100 stake. 

We can look at this principle in dollars to make it easier to understand. 

In the Yankee’s game, every $1.30 staked wins you $1 should the game go your way. Conversely, for every $1 risked on the Detroit Tigers, you win $1.20. 

How To Convert American Odds

Aside from American odds, we also have decimal and fraction odds. So how do you convert American odds to other systems?

How Do You Convert American Odds To Decimal?

Decimal odds are also called European odds as they are the primary odd format in Europe. 

If you have + American odds and want to see them in decimals, the formulae is:

(American odds/ 100) + 1 = Decimal odds

If the American odds are – ;

1- (100/ -American odds) =Decimal Odds

How do you convert American odds to fractional?

These are used a lot in horse racing and futures markets. 

If you have + American odds and want to convert them to a fractional;

American odds /100 = fractional odds

When you have (–) American odds;

-100 / -American odds = fractional odds

How do you convert fractional odds to American?

For fractions bigger than 1;

(Fractional value) × 100 = American odds

With a fraction that is less than 1;

-100 / (fractional value) =American odds

How do you convert decimal odds to American?

For decimal odds greater than 2.00, calculate as follows;

(Decimal odds -1) × 100 = American odds

For decimal odds between 1.01 and 1.99;

-100 / (Decimal odds – 1) = American odds

Final Thoughts

The American system takes a bit of getting used to if you use a different method. However, it’s pretty easy to understand and shouldn’t give you any issues once you get the hang of it. 

As you get accustomed to the American way, you can always use the above formulas to see odds in your preferred format. 


Dan Weiner

Hailing from Atlanta and attending college at the University of Texas, Dan is passionate about sports, particularly college football and soccer. He's a diehard Atlanta pro sports and Texas Longhorns fan. He likes every sport and will watch anything and everything the weirder the better. He joined Betsperts after an 11 year career in television production at ESPN.

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