A Sports Betting Odds Explainer

If you’ve ever wondered about sports betting odds and how to calculate your betting odds when placing bets, you’ve come to the right place. On this page, you can learn about the three major odds formats, with a few examples of what your returns might be when accepting certain odds.

You can also learn the names of the most common bet types you are likely to come across today when you sign up to a licensed online betting site from your smartphone, laptop, tablet, or desktop computer. 

What are the three main odds formats?

When you visit a fully licensed online bookmaker (aka sports betting site), such as the official Unibet website, you will see that the odds are displayed in a certain format. The three main odds formats are the following:

  • Fractional odds (popular in the United Kingdom and one or two other parts of the world)
  • Decimal odds (popular in Europe, Africa, Asia, and many other parts of the world)
  • American/moneyline odds (popular in North America)

Some people prefer viewing the odds in the fractional odds format, and others prefer viewing them in either the decimal or American/moneyline format. The great news for online bettors is that they can often select which odds format is displayed when signing up to a trusted sports betting site.

If you have never placed a bet online before and are new to odds, then you may want to try out all three different odds formats to begin with to find out which you feel more comfortable with.

You may find that you prefer using the fractional odds format, even though you live in North America, where the America/moneyline odds format is more common.

Likewise, you may live in the United Kingdom but find that you prefer the European decimal odds format. All you have to do is click on the decimal, fractional, or American/moneyline button to change the current odds format to your preferred format.

Examples of how the odds may appear in certain bets

Let’s just say that you want to place a wager on English Premier League side Manchester City to win the UEFA Champions League outright this year.

The market for this particular event is already open, and at most sites, you will see that Manchester City are the bookies’ odds-on favourite team to win the Champions League outright.

In fractional odds, they are currently priced at 2/1. In decimal odds, 2/1 would appear as 3.00, and in American/moneyline odds, it would appear as +200. These odds mean the implied probability rate of Manchester City winning the Champions League for the second year in a row is 33.30%.

Therefore, if you were to place a $/€/£100 bet (or equivalent currency value) today on Man City to win the UEFA Champions League with 2/1 odds, and they go on to win European football’s biggest domestic team tournament, you would be looking at total returns of $/€/£300.

This would include your initial $/€/£100 stake returned to your account balance and a $/€/£200 profit.

Mini odds conversion table

Here are a few more examples of how the odds appear in the various formats, along with the implied probability rates:

  • 1/100 (fractional) – 1.01 (decimal) – -10,000 (American/moneyline) – 99% (implied probability rate) – MOST likely to occur!
  • 1/4 (fractional) – 1.25 (decimal) – -400 (American/moneyline) – 80% (implied probability rate)
  • 2/5 (fractional) – 1.40 (decimal) – -250 (American/moneyline) – 71.40% (implied probability rate)
  • 4/6 (fractional) – 1.67 (decimal) – -150 (American/moneyline) – 60% (implied probability rate)
  • 1/1 or EVENS (fractional) – 2.00 (decimal) – +100 (American/moneyline) – 50% (implied probability rate)
  • 7/5 (fractional) – 2.40 (decimal) – +140 (American/moneyline) – 41.70% (implied probability rate)
  • 6/1 (fractional) – 7.00 (decimal) – +500 (American/moneyline) – 16.70% (implied probability rate)
  • 25/1 (fractional) – 26.00 (decimal) – +2,500 (American/moneyline) – 3.80% (implied probability rate)
  • 1000/1 (fractional) – 1,001.00 (decimal) – +100,000 (American/moneyline) – 0.1% (implied probability rate) – LEAST likely to occur

Before placing bets on any sport, take a few minutes to learn one of these odds formats so you can place strategic bets that are more likely (but never guaranteed) to return you some kind of profit.

Some of the most popular bets you are likely to come across are single, double, treble, four-fold, and five-fold (up to eight-fold). You also have several other popular bets, such as Accumulator, Trixie, Yankee, Canadian/Super Yankee, and Patent.

If you’re looking for more exotic bet types, there’s Lucky 15, Lucky 31, and Lucky 63. Other bet types you may also want to learn more about are the Heinz, Super Heinz, and Goliath, and that’s not forgetting the Super Heinze with Singles and Super Goliath.