Reading sports betting odds is very important in achieving success as a punter. To some, this task is difficult; however, by spending some time practicing, the process of reading odds becomes easy. Furthermore, understanding these odds can help determine bet payouts, bet sizes, as well as how to discover values in betting lines.

In this article, we will teach newbies in the betting world how to read odds, including how this knowledge can yield profits.

The Correlation of Odds with Payouts

First, there is a need to understand what betting odds represent. These odds serve as a tool, indicating the stance of an oddsmaker on a specific event or game. Also, they reflect the amount punters should risk before winning the potential payout.

Understanding the Vigorish or Juice

Vigorish (vig) or Juice describes the amount a bookmaker charges for placing your bets. This is regarded as the sportsbook’s share for offering its services. Vig amount differs with respect to sports and wagers, and determining its value just by reading odds isn’t usually easy.

For even odds (For American sports bets, it is indicated as +100), placing a bet of $11 will yield an $11 payout (and $22 in total returns). However, -100 odds mean that a bet of $11 will only pay out $10 (and $21 in total return).

Furthermore, if you place a bet of $100 at -110 odds, then the total winnings possible would be $90.91 and not $100. Let’s analyze it further:

  • 110 odds as a fraction represent 10/11
  • 10/11 in decimal is 0.91(after approximating)
  • Multiplying the wagered amount of $100 by 0.91 equals $90.91

The missing $9.09 amount indicates the vig.

What is Implied Probability?

Implied probability describes the possibility of an outcome, which is determined by the sportsbook and indicated using odds.

It is important for serious bettors that wish to assess a bet’s possible value to convert the odds to implied probabilities. If an individual gives a team a 55% winning chance and the team’s implied probability to win is 45%. That punter has an advantage over the bookmaker.

The conversion of odds to implied probabilities deals with a complex math equation. However, if you wish to be an expert sports punter, it is necessary you learn and understand it. To explain further, let’s work with some examples.

Implied probability can be calculated in three ways:

Converting the decimal odds: This is calculated using the formula: (1/decimal odds) x 100

Converting the fractional odds: This is calculated using denominator / (denominator + numerator) x 100

Converting the American odds: This can be calculated for both Negative American Odds and Positive American Odds

  • Negative American Odds: Negative American Odds / (Negative American Odds + 100) x 100
  • Positive American Odds: 100 / (Positive American Odds + 100) x 100

Let’s consider the table

Player Fractional Odds Decimal Odds American Odds Implied Probability
Murray 9/2 5.5 +450 18.1%
Djokovic 1/5 1.2 -500 83.3%

Using the decimal odds, the probability of Djokovic winning would be

1/1.2 x 100 = 83.3%

Using the fractional odds, the implied probability of Murray winning will be

2 / (2+9) x 100 =

2/11 x 100 = 18.1%

Using the Negative American odds, the implied probability of Djokovic winning is

500 / (500+100) x 100 =

500/600 x 100 = 83.3%

Using the Positive American odds, the implied probability of Murray winning is

100 / (450 + 100) x 100 =

100/550 x 100 = 18.18%

What are Negative Odds?

Negative odds i.e., -500 signify the bet favorite. The number following the negative sign (in this case, 500) indicates the amount to bet for each $100 to be won. i.e., if a team you’re betting on has -110 odds, it means the punter has to place a bet of $110 to be able to win $100, and for -160 odds, the staker has to risk $160 to win $100. To win $300 on -150 odds, the punter must bet with $150 x 3 to give $450.

What Does Chalk Mean in Sports Betting?

In betting, ‘Chalk’ describes the favored team on the odds chart. When a sports fan says, “This weekend, Barcelona is a big chalk”, this means that Barcelona would be a big favorite. Being a small chalk means that the team is a fair or slight favorite.

What Does Positive Odds Mean?

Odds having a positive sign, i.e. (+500), indicates the underdog (the team or individual likely to lose. Negative odds tell the amount the punter needs to place on the favorite team or player to win $100, while positive odds reveal the amount to win for each $100 placed on the underdog. Teams with +120 odds pay out $120 for each $100 placed.

What is Pick’em?

Pick’em in betting describes a specific match or game where none of the teams involved is the underdog or favorite. Here, the two of them are viewed as equal. You can easily find Pick’em games on an odds board through any of the following ways.

First, both teams will have identical moneyline odds. Both are usually listed at +100. Regarding their point spreads, the normal number seen on a betting board, i.e. -2.5 or +4, is replaced by PK. Pick’em games look like this

  • Team A (-100) vs.  Team B (-100)
  • Team C (+110) vs. Team D (+110)
  • Team E (PK) -110 vs. Team F (PK) -110

Other Odds for Sports Betting

What is a +7 spread? A +7 team means they are the 7-point underdog. Betting on this team means you need them to beat the opponent or lose by at most 6 points. When the team loses by 7 points, this is called push (tie), which means the bookmaker will refund your money.

What is 20-to-1?  20-to-1 odds means you are considering a long shot, which may not likely win. The probability of that team winning is 4.76%. If this bet wins, the punter will be paid $20 for every $1 placed on that bet.

What is +1200 in betting? Placing a $100 bet on a team with +1200 odds indicates a possible win of $1200.


Reading odds on reputable bookmakers like mostbet is easier than you think. Understanding the various terminologies, as well as how to calculate them, will help you read the odds properly.

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