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Betting Odds

How Do Betting Odds Work: Types & Tips

Sports betting is becoming an increasingly popular pastime in America. If you’re also planning to start your betting journey, it’s important to understand the odds. You should have a good understanding of the various types and be able to read odds and interpret the various formats they come in.

What are Odds? Sports betting Odds Explained

The oxford dictionary defines odds as the ‘ratio between the amounts staked by the parties to a bet.’ This ratio is usually based on the expected probability of either action occurring. For instance, take odds of 5 to 1. These mean that the bookmaker (first-party) stakes five times the amount staked by the bettor (second party).

Types of Betting Odds

There are three main types of betting odds.

Decimal Style Odds

Decimal odds are the most common types of betting odds globally. They typically use decimals to represent the ratio. For example, a sportsbook using decimal odds for an NHL game between Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames;

Boston Bruins


Calgary Flames


So, whatever amount you wager on Boston Bruins, you will receive x1.9 if they win. Similarly, if you wager on Calgary Flames, you will receive x1.9 of the bet amount if they win.

The favorites coming into a match usually have smaller odds in decimal odds.

Fractional Odds

These are also known as British odds. They are written as fractions and are quite popular among Irish and British sportsbooks. Using fractional odds in a basketball game between Suns and Mavericks;





For every four dollars, you bet on Suns, you win five if they win the game. Similarly, for every two dollars you bet on Mavericks, you win three if they win the game. So, if you wagered $10 on Mavericks and they won, your payouts would be $15 ($10 x 3/2).

Moneyline Odds

All major sportsbooks in the United States use moneyline odds. This is why they are also known as US or American odds. Unlike other types of odds, moneyline odds are based on $100. They typically indicate how much money you need to wager to win $100 or what potential profit $100 will bring you if you win.

Odds for a tennis match between Rafel Nadal and Andrey Rublev may look like this;

Rafael Nadal


Andrey Rublev


In the above matchup, Rafael Nadal is the favorite to win. Favorites typically have a negative (-) sign in front of their moneyline odds. In this case, you have to wager $120 to win $100 if Nadal emerges victorious.

On the other hand, Andrey Rublev is the underdog, shown by the positive (+) sign. If you wager $100 on him and he goes on to win the match, you will win $100.

The difference between the two odds can be summarized as follows;

The favorite’s odds (-) show you how much money you need to wager to win $100.
The underdog’s odds (+) show you how much money you will win if you wager $100.
How to find the best betting odds?

One of the biggest determinants of betting success is the ability to find good betting odds. It’s a must-have skill for any serious handicapper.

One of the easiest ways to find good sports odds is by comparing odds from different sportsbooks. Before any given match, go through different sportsbooks covering the game and wager with the one that has the best odds.

When searching for odds, you will notice that sportsbooks will have different odds for the same scenario. Don’t be fooled by enticingly high odds. In your quest for high payouts and winnings, you’ll come across several shady sportsbooks online. These often have the most irresistible of odds. But since they are operating illegally, there is no guarantee that they will pay you your winnings.

Therefore, you want to stick to legal sportsbooks in the United States. But with so many available, which should one go with? Here at Betsperts, we only recommend US sportsbooks. And we have found time and time again, that BetRivers, FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and Caesars offer the best betting odds.

What is Value in Sports Betting?

Another common term among odd hunters in betting is ‘value.’ This can either be positive or negative. A positive value exists where the probability of winning is greater than that reflected in the odds. On the other hand, a wager has a negative value where the probability of winning is less than the odds suggest.

Generally, if you want to make the most money, you need to find positive value.

Types of Sports bets explained

The most common types of sports bets include the following;


Moneyline bets are quite simple. In a match between two teams/players, the bettor predicts who the winner will be. They back one team; if their prediction is correct, they win the bet. And if it isn’t, they lose.


A spread is a wager on the point/goal difference between competing teams/players. These bets spread the risk, allowing you to back the underdog and still win even if they lose the game. Take a basketball point spread, for instance;





The Suns are the favorite to win while Mavericks are the underdog. The Suns need to win the game by at least 5.5 points to cover the spread. On the other hand, Mavericks must win the game or lose it by no more than 5.5 points to cover the spread.

Thus, you can wager on Mavericks and still win your bet even if they lose (as long as it is not by more than 5.5 points).


Totals are wagers on the final score of a match. Depending on the sport, this can be a bet on the total goals or points scored, or the total games scored. Bettors wager on whether the final score will go above or below the totals. This is why totals are also known as over/under bets.

Total odds vary depending on how often teams score in the sport. For instance, total odds can be as high as two hundred in basketball, while in hockey, they rarely go above 5.


Over 200.5


Under 200.5



Over 4.5


Under 4.5



These are prediction bets on mid to long-term events. For instance, you can bet on;

Who will win an upcoming professional sports tournament,
Which soccer player will score the most goals of the season,
Which NBA team will win the championship,
Which football player will have the most interceptions,
Which team will win the super bowl
Which player will win the MVP award, etc.
Prop Bets

Prop bets, also known as fun bets, are wagers on random events during a game. These events don’t necessarily impact the outcome of the game. A good example of a prop bet is a wager on which team will have the most attempts on goal in a hockey game.

Betting Odds Explained

What affects sports betting odds?

Betting odds tend to change as we move closer to match week/gameday. This is called line movement and can be caused by;

Injuries and other changes to the lineup

When key players get injured, the probability of their team winning a match reduces. Thus, the odds will change to reflect that fact. The same will occur in the case of illness, arrest, suspension, or any other happenings that put key players out of the lineup.

Media stories

The media sometimes runs stories that will affect the outcome of a game. For instance, transfer speculation may affect the concentration of players, making them more likely to lose the game or not dominate as much. Sportsbooks know this and will often react as fast as possible to try and change the odds.

How people bet

The betting public will also impact the odds. This is because sportsbooks are trying to make money from both sides of a bet. So, if people overwhelmingly bet on a particular outcome, sportsbooks try to direct the action to the other side of the bet.

Take an NFL match between Seattle Seahawks and Las Vegas Raiders. The moneyline odds five days before the game may look like this;





But as the game approaches, the sportsbook realizes that too many people are betting on the Seahawks. So, they may end up with too much money on that side of the bet. To try and balance things out and prevent this from happening, they need to adjust the odds. Thus, they will make the Raiders’ odds more enticing and the Seahawks’ odds worse to get more people to back the Raiders. The odds now become as follows;





New bettors will now be greeted with attractive Raiders odds and discouraging Seahawks ones. As a result, most of them will lean towards the Las Vegas Raiders and probably back them with their money.

What and how to bet futures odds?

Future bets require bettors to make predictions on an upcoming season/tournament. When making such bets, you need to consider the performance of teams/players in past seasons/tournaments. Have they been declining, or are they on the ascendancy? In team sports, you should also look at the caliber of new signings and their expected impact on the team’s performance.

What are the best betting sites for odds online?

Since online sports betting became legal in many states, we’ve seen an increase in the number of online sportsbooks operating in the country. If you don’t know which ones to go with, here are our top recommendations

BetRivers Sportsbook


4.7/5 Read Review

2nd Chance Bets ($100-$500)

BetRivers has a wide range of betting options for all sports and games. The bets are also quite favorable. And if you’re a beginner, you get a first deposit match-up of $250, which gives you plenty of room to hone your betting skills.

FanDuel Sportsbook


4.9/5 Read Review

Bet $5, Get $200 in bonus bets if your bet WINS!

FanDuel is another excellent sportsbook to go odds hunting. You get good odds for all the year’s major sports and sports tournaments. To make the first steps easier, new customers also get a risk-free bet worth up to $1000 upon signing.

Draftkings Sportsbook


4.8/5 Read Review

Get a $1,000 Deposit Bonus

If you’ve been looking into the world of online sports betting, you’re probably familiar with Draftkings. The sportsbook is popular for its great odds available across various betting options for different sports. As for new players, you get a$50 free bet ($5 minimum bet size) and qualify for a 20% bonus up to $1000.

BetMGM Sportsbook


4.9/5 Read Review

$1,500 First Bet Offer

BetMGM, from the brand MGM, offers some pretty solid odds. There are also risk-free bets as a welcome bonus for new users, who qualify for risk-free bets worth up t0 $1000.

Caesars Sportsbook


4.8/5 Read Review

$1,000 First Bet on Caesars

Caesars is one of the most popular American sportsbooks. It has some of the best odds for any major sport you can think of, from the NBA and NCAAB to MLS, NHL, and NCAAB.

FAQs on Betting Odds

Odds represent the ratio between the amounts of money staked by parties in a bet. There are two parties in online sports betting, the sportsbook, and the bettor.

This is a positive moneyline odd, which shows that you’re backing an underdog. If you wager $100, you stand to win $150 if they win.

Several sportsbooks offer free bets and risk-free bets for new users. These include BetRivers, DraftKings, BetMGM, and FanDuel.

Betting odds typically have a plus or minus sign in front of the number. The sign represents whether the team/player is the favorite or underdog. Favorites have a negative (-) sign, while underdogs have a positive (+) sign.

Negative betting odds mean that the player/team is the favorite to win.

For every dollar you bet, you stand to win five dollars.

These are favorable odds representing an underdog. If you wager $100, you will get profits of $200 if your bet wins.

Since you’re betting on the favorite, negative odds, don’t carry as much risk as positive ones. Thus, their winnings are usually smaller compared to those of positive ones.

A betting line is a number set by the oddsmakers to help handicap a certain game/event.

Written and updated by

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