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American vs. Fractional vs. Decimal Odds

American Odds

Here in North America—and especially in America—nine times out of ten you’re going to see odds being displayed in the American fashion. American odds are also the type of odds that we use in our betting previews and picks here at Sports Betting Focus, so we’re going to start by explaining that one first.

American odds are always based on a very round number: 100. All American odds will be displayed using a number no lower than 100 with either a plus (+) or minus (-) symbol next to them.

When a market has odds with a minus symbol, it means they are a favorite, and will have lower odds and therefore bring less returns. Odds with a plus symbol indicate an underdog, higher odds and more returns. If the odds have a minus symbol, the higher the number next to it is, the lower the odds will be. When they start with a plus symbol, the higher the number next to it, the higher the odds.

For example, say you’re betting on an NBA game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Toronto Raptors. The Lakers are the favorites, offering -250 odds, while the Raptors are offering +150 odds as the underdog.

This means that you will need to put $250 down to win $100 in returns (on top of the stake) on the Lakers, while a $100 bet on the Raptors will offer returns of $150 (on top of the stake). Everything revolves around the number 100, just remember that. The equation helps to find the amount of returns, but you’ll always need to add the initial stake on top after that for total winnings.

Fractional Odds

While American odds are the go-to in North America, across the pond Fractional odds—sometimes called British/UK or traditional odds—are the law of the land. They are most common among British and Irish sportsbooks, and considering how many sports betting sites originate in the British Isles, Fractional odds are worth understanding for any bettor.

Like with American odds, you always have to add on the original stake to get your total winnings when calculating Fractional odds.

Fractional odds are displayed using either a slash (/) or a hyphen (-) which can be used interchangeably. The odds would be shown as 4/1 or 4-1 and verbalized as “four-to-one odds” if being discussed out loud. Odds of 4/1 would mean that for every $1 you wager, you’re winning returns of $4 on top of your stake. The larger the numerator (or first number) is compared to the denominator (the second number), the higher the odds.

Odds of 100/1 are very high, while odds of 10/11 are quite low: for every $1 you wager on the first set of odds, you win returns of $100, while you would win just $10 for every $11 wagered on the second set of odds. If the second number is larger than the first, you’re almost definitely dealing with the favorite of the sporting event in question and therefore lower odds and less returns.

For example, if you’re betting on an MLB player to win the MVP and they have 10/1 odds, that means they’re a bit of a long shot so for every $1 you put down you win returns of $10. If you bet $20 on those odds, a winning bet would net you $200 in returns.

Basically, the equation to calculate returns for fractional odds is like this: stake multiplied by the odds. If you put down a $25 bet on odds of 10/3 your equation would be 25 x (10/3=3.33) = 83.33. So a winning bet in that instance would mean that you win your original $25 stake back as well as $83.33 in returns for a total of $108.33.

Decimal Odds

The last type of odds we’ll look at are Decimal odds, which are also called European, digital, and continental odds. These kinds of odds are probably the most common of the three and the simplest to read, being found most commonly in continental Europe. Interestingly, while the British Isles generally use Fractional odds, the rest of the British Commonwealth (Canada, New Zealand, Australia) are more likely to use Decimal odds.

Unlike American and Fractional odds, where you need to add the original betting stake back on after doing the calculation for the returns, Decimal odds include both the stake and the returns, which makes it much simpler to figure out how much you’re actually winning. Decimal odds are displayed as a decimaled number, such as 2.1 or 10.6.

For every $1 you wager, the Decimal number in the odds is how much you win in total—stake, and returns included. The equation is very simple: stake x decimal odd number. The smaller the number, the lower the odds, and the lower the returns. Decimal odds below 2.0 usually indicate a favorite, while numbers above 10.0 usually point you to a long shot.

For example, if you wager $100 on a fighter to win a UFC fight with 5.5 decimal odds, you stand to win 100 x 5.5 = $550 total ($450 profit, plus the $100 initial stake). If you bet $50 on a big-time favorite to win with 1.5 odds, you’re winning $50 x 1.5 = $75 ($25 profit, plus the initial $50 stake).

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