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How to Make The Most of Sports Odds — The Ultimate Guide


Sports betting has been around for as long as sports have. If there’s one thing sports betting fans know, it’s how to make each game more thrilling by placing bets. This helps them make some extra cash and use their sports knowledge to make a profit.

Those new to sports betting might find certain aspects of it difficult. We won’t say it’s simple, but it’s certainly not hard to comprehend various elements like sports betting odds, betting lines, spreads, and the types of bets you can make.

The first step is to understand what sports betting odds are and how you can make the most out of them. Once you learn the basics, you can get started with the various ways to bet on sports online.

Sports betting odds are a bit tricky, and different bookies feature different odds. But Betting Sites Ranking has got you covered!

Understanding Sports Odds

So, let’s assume there’s an exciting match coming up, and you want to place a bet on your favorite team or player. If unsure about how to go ahead, the first step would be understanding the odds. Once you do that, you’ll know which bets you should place and which aren’t worth it.

Furthermore, the odds are displayed in different formats on legal betting sites. There are three common types:

  • American Odds (Plus/Minus)
  • Decimal Odds
  • Fractional Odds

You can easily understand these odds, and as you continue to read this guide, you’ll learn how to read the odds. You can use the sports odds to predict the outcome of any match or sporting event—also known as calculating the implied probability.

Knowing how sports betting odds work will help you make lucrative bets with the best payouts. Once you understand how betting odds work, you can determine the amount of money you want to wager.

People watching a soccer gameSports Betting Odds Explained: American Odds

Whether you’re an experienced bettor or a beginner, you can always learn how to calculate sports betting odds. For most regions, betting sites use American odds. It’s a simple plus/minus display system that you use to calculate payouts.

So, how do you calculate sports odds? First, let’s do it the American way. We’ll go over some examples so you can understand how to navigate when you’re dealing with such odds. When you start wagering, you’ll know what to do.

There’s a reason why odds exist. They have been designed to let potential bettors know about a bet’s implied or implicit probability. You can also determine your payout based on the betting odds if you win the bet.

However, odds are easily influenced by various factors which can impact the outcome of the sporting event. Most sportsbooks and oddsmakers are also infamous for manipulating and steering the odds in their favor.

What is Plus/Minus?

If you’ve gone on any sports betting site, you might have seen odds like +120/-250 or something similar. This is how you’ll know that these are American odds. The plus and minus sign indicates the favorites and the underdogs in any game or match.

In this case, the negative number which is -250 would help you determine the amount you need to bet if you want to win $100 on the bet. The positive number, +120, belongs to the underdog in the match or game. If you bet $100 and the underdog wins, this number will determine your payout.

Understanding the American Odds

Let’s take an example using the numbers above.

Chiefs: -120 (Favorites)

Eagles: +250 (Underdogs)

Using this example, we’ll start calculating the odds. If you want a payout of $100 when you bet on the Chiefs, you will be wagering $120. If you wager $100 on the Eagles, your total payout will be $250 plus your original $100, making it $350.

Calculating Payouts

Let’s assume you don’t feel like betting $100—most people prefer making smaller bets. You can always make multiple small bets on several games to get the most out of the sports betting odds.

If you win two bets and lose one, it’s better than losing all your money in a single shot. Continuing with the example above, we can calculate the payout and odds if you bet on the underdogs with only $10.

Since the Eagles were the underdogs with +250, your $10 bet would result in a payout worth $25 in addition to your original bet of $10. So, your total would be $35 which you can cash out. Most sportsbooks will do these calculations for you before you confirm the bet. Once you confirm the bet, the betting site will show your exact payout.

Men playing volleyball

Calculating Implied Probability

All sports bettors have heard this term before. When you start your research about sports betting and how it works, you’re bound to come across “implied probability”. Sports betting odds suggest a certain outcome for any game or match, whereas the implied probability pertains to the likelihood or prospect of the said outcome.

The first step in calculating implied probability is to convert the given odds into percentage form. This is crucial because you’re looking for an estimated figure so you can compare the odds given on the sportsbook and change your bets accordingly.

All bookies have a “cut” or “juice” included in all the odds, which is their share of your winnings, so each implied probability figure will be more than 100%. This is known as overround or the bookmaker’s margin—and sports bettors need to remove this “cut” before calculating their expected outcome.

Sports Betting Odds Explained: Decimal Odds

The next sports odds format is decimals. You’ll come across this format often and it’s also the easiest to understand and learn. Most European sportsbooks use decimal odds however, you can also find American odds on their websites. You can always set your preference according to your betting style.

This is what the decimal odds look like:

Bulls: 2.20 (Underdog)

Mavericks: 1.30 (Favorite)

Understand the Decimal Odds

You can easily calculate your potential payout with decimal odds. Simply multiply your betting amount with the odds next to the team you want to bet on. Taking the above example, if you bet $40 on Bulls with odds of 2.20, your winnings will be $88. If you bet $40 on Mavericks with odds of 1.30, your winnings will be $52.

How to Calculate Implied Probability

To calculate the implied probability for decimal odds, you have to use this formula: 1/X (X being the decimal odds). This will help you determine if betting on a particular team is worth taking the risk of losing.

Using the example above, the implied probability of the Bulls winning is:

1 / 2.20 = 45.45%

And the Mavericks’ implied probability of winning is:

1 / 1.30 = 76.9%

So, in this scenario, if you bet on Mavericks, your chances of winning are better due to the higher probability. Therefore, it’s a safe bet.

Horse race

Sports Betting Odds Explained: Fractional Odds

Most UK betting sites use fractional odds, especially those that offer horse racing bets. Fractional odds can look weird at first glance but once you understand them, you can easily calculate your potential winnings.

Understand the Fractional Odds

So let’s assume you will be betting on a horse race. You open your favorite sportsbook’s online betting app and see figures like 1/2 or 4/5. The number on the bottom, or the right, will denote the number of times your bookie expects the bet to fall through. The number on the top, or the left, will represent how many times your bookie expects the bet to succeed.

Calculating Payouts

Calculating your potential winnings is pretty easy when you’re using fractional odds. You have to multiply your betting amount by the top number (numerator) and then divide your output by the bottom number (denominator).

For example, for odds of 4/5 and a bet of $60, your payout would be:

(60 x 4)/5 = 48. So your total winnings would be $60 plus $48 = $108!

For the 1/2 odds, your payout calculation will be the following:

(60 x 1) / 2 = $30. So your total winnings would be $60 plus $30 = $90!

Football on grassCalculating Implied Probability

You can easily calculate the implied probability for fractional odds. Let’s assume the horse you want to bet on has the odds of 9/4. This means that out of 13 races (9+4), your horse is predicted to win 8 times. These are pretty good chances, right?

So, all you have to do now is to figure out the implied probability. You do this by dividing the horse’s chances of winning by the total races: 9/14 = 64.3%. This is a basic math calculator, and you can do this once you know the odds.

When you actually start betting and calculating the implied probability and add each outcome, your total will be above 100%. This is because betting online costs money, and your online betting site will charge their “cut”.

Types of Bets You Can Make

In this section, we’ll go over some common bets you can make. Now that you know how to read odds, making bets will be the next step. Most of these bets are available on the best betting sites like Bet365, Betfair, Stake, and 1xbit. You can find a similar bet for any sport you’re interested in.

Moneyline Bets

Moneyline bets are the simplest bets. They are also known as win bets. In the US, folks call it a moneyline wager. In other countries, you will hear “win bet” often. Regardless of the name, it’s a pretty basic bet. You’ll be given two teams or athletes with their odds written next to them.

You will simply choose the team you think would win the match or game. For example, there’s an upcoming NBA clash between Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks. If you think the Suns will be the winner, you will wager on them. If they win, you win. It’s truly that simple!

Recommended Read: Moneyline Bets — How to Bet 101

Basketball hoop

Over/Under and Totals

There are two names attached to this wager. Some call it total, while others refer to it as over/under bet. It’s another simple wager which beginners can use to win bets. Sportsbooks in the US will specify a total for any sporting event.

Let’s say it’s a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona. The total, in this case, will be the number of goals scored in the entire game. So when you choose this bet, you’ll either choose a number over the specified total or under it.

Point Spread/Handicap Betting

Another popular bet for most sporting events is the point spread. This type of bet is common in the US. In other parts of the world, especially in Europe, it’s known as handicap betting. The basic idea for this wager is that your online betting site will be determining the team they think would win the match.

If they think Team A would win the game, they’ll also assign the number of points or goals they think the team would win by. If you think the sportsbook is understating or overstating the number, you’ll place a bet on it. You will have two options and you will select one.

Recommended Read: Betting With The Spread Vs. Against The Spread: What’s The Difference?

Futures/Outrights Bets

In today’s sports betting world, we have the flexibility of betting on the events which will take place in the future. It’s also known as outright betting. You can choose the winner of any competition, league, or tournament. You can also pick the team or player who’ll score the most goals/points or make the most saves. The options for futures bets are endless.

For example, let’s say you want to bet on the winner of the UEFA Champions League 2022-2023. The competition hasn’t concluded yet, but you will find many betting sites offering UEFA bets and odds. For futures bets, you place wagers on events that are yet to happen.

Since these outright bets are placed ahead of time, you can’t make a well-informed decision. Picking correctly is certainly not the easiest task. However, the payouts associated with these bets are handsome. Attractive payouts are usually associated with risky bets.

Recommended Read: Futures Bets — Everything You Need To Know

Men playing football

Prop Bets or Specials

Prop bets or proposition bets are different from your usual sports bets. These are “special” bets and you can find them for any sport on almost any betting site. These wagers are popular because they can be about anything.

For example, during Super Bowl Half Time, if you think the performer will be wearing a blue outfit, you can place a bet on that. During a basketball game, you place a prop bet on the player or team you think would score first. These are simple examples—prop bets can be much more exciting than these.


When we talk about parlay bets or accumulators, things start getting a little complicated. These wagers aren’t for beginners. However, if you know how to make a single wager, you can try your luck with parlays too.

These bets are a series of single bets. For example, you’re placing a bet on a horse. For a parlay or accumulator bet, you will place a bet on five different races. If you want to win this parlay, you would have to win all your bets. Even if you lose one, your entire stake will be lost. You can find NBA picks and parlays online.

Reverse/ If Bets

Reverse or “if” bets are pretty hard to understand. For this, you’ll select multiple bets. Your bets will be associated with each other. However, if you lose your initial bet, all subsequent ones are also off. However, you don’t lose your stake for those bets because they depended on the initial one. This makes reverse bets much safer than parlay wagers.

How to Bet on Sports Smartly

Making money consistently on sports betting is tough, but many sports bettors frequently win. Professional bettors can make a living out of this—however, we won’t recommend you quit your job and start wagering on sports.

Now that you know about sports betting odds and the types of bets you can make, let’s go over some betting tips and strategies which will help you win. These are mostly for beginners, but experienced sports bettors can also check them out.

Bankroll or Money Management

When you start betting on sports, it’s tempting to make huge bets. Having a good amount of money in your bank often means bettors start gambling without any budget or without determining how much they can afford to lose.

However, setting aside some money for sports betting and only using that for making bets is the key to betting smartly. You can’t spend your entire monthly paycheck on gambling of any kind. Have a certain budget and don’t overspend.

If you want to wager weekly, monthly, or every season, determine your bankroll accordingly. You can make bets worth a maximum of 5% of your entire bankroll. This will help you with money management. For smaller bets, you can decrease the percentage as well. Don’t start chasing your losses with even bigger bets.

Recommended Read: How to Ace Bankroll Management in Online Sports Betting

Bet Sober

This strategy might seem obvious, and it’s common sense to bet on sports when you’re sober. However, there is a surprising number of people who bet on sports when they’re drinking. Most casinos where people engage in gambling also offer free alcoholic drinks.

Betting smartly means your judgment isn’t being clouded. Nothing should be impairing your ability to think straight and make profitable bets. You shouldn’t let your emotions or feelings take over. Don’t start making more bets when you lose a bet and feel upset or angry.

Men in a boxing ring

Do Your Research

This is the most important tip. Without any research, you shouldn’t do anything in life, let alone gamble online. Always make sure you do your homework when you start betting on sports. Even if it’s your favorite team or athlete, you can’t go with your hunch that they’ll win. It might work sometimes but not always. Sporting events have a way of surprising you.

If you want to win big and make a profit on your bets, your research will help you. You can study each team involved in a match, look at their stats, search the head-to-head records, find and analyze past patterns or trends, and create a betting system. Simply put, you must do everything to be confident about your bets.

Line Shopping

A crucial step in making smart and successful bets is to do line shopping. You have to look for the best lines and bet only when you have landed on a sports betting site offering the right line. You can look for the spreads and sports odds on different online betting sites and sportsbooks. When you have compared different spreads, you can place your bet

For experienced bettors, this is a part of their routine. They do line shopping every season to win big money. It’s a sports betting and winning strategy. Here’s a list of sportsbooks you can visit for online betting:

Recommended Read: Different Betting Markets – 5 To Look Out For

How Betting Sites Ranking Helps

Beginners in search of an online betting portal where they can find the world’s top betting sites offering a variety of bets for sports betting legal countries can visit Betting Sites Ranking. Start your betting journey and compare the top 10 betting sites in the world, endless options for DRF picks and parlays, NCAA football odds, and much more.

Betting Sites Ranking also brings you exclusive promotions and bonuses on different websites. You can check out the 1xbet official website and start betting today to take advantage of our 1xbet registration link.

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