How to Read American Odds?

Vegas Casino Sportsbook

There are three ways to view odds that are used by most online bookmakers. Of these, most people will be familiar with two of them, and will choose to use this style. These are fractional odds and decimal odds. The third type is American. These odds are the lesser known and used of the three, but if you are looking to expand your betting knowledge then they are certainly worth knowing about. 

What are American Odds?

As the name suggests, American odds originate from betting in the USA. When you head to Vegas, where sports betting is seen on huge screens inside casinos, you will see the odds shown in the American format.

In Europe and elsewhere around the world, these are not as commonly used, and certainly sit third behind fractional odds and decimal odds.

American odds are based on the profit you make from a bet. This is done to a stake of 100 units, and that gives you the odds on offer.

Lets take an example to show you how American odds look when compared to fractional and decimal.

To win Superbowl LV the Philadephia Eagles are priced at:

Fractional odds 18/1

Decimal odds 19.0

American odds +1800

The reason for showing like this is as follows. Fractional odds show you staking 1 unit to receive a profit back of 18 and a total of 19. Decimal odds are based on the amount you are returned off 1 unit, so therefore, the odds for 18/1 are 19.00 because that is how much you would receive back for 1 unit.

American odds show you the profit you would make (note this is profit, not total return) from a bet of 100. In this instance above, at odds of 18/1, the profit on a 100 unit bet would be 1800, so the odds are shown as +1800.

Superbowl Outright Market, prices displayed in American Odds

What Happens to Odds On Selections?

When a selection is odds on, American odds work in a slightly different manner. Instead of showing you the profit from a bet of 100 units, it shows you the stake you need to place to win 100 units. Here is an example of how odds on odds are shown in the three different varieties.

Fractional odds 1/4 

Decimal odds 1.25

American odds -400

As you can see here, the odd are -400 because you need to stake 400 to win back a profit of 100 units. In fractional odds these show the odds turned around to represent a larger stake than return, while the price has no impact on decimal odds, these are shown in exactly the same way.

It is vitally important to look out for the – or + symbol when you are viewing American odds. On big examples like we have shown, you can easily distinguish because the odds are massively different.

However, if you are looking at odds of 11/10 and 10/11 in fractional terms, these would be shown as +110 and -110 in that order. The first gives you a win of 110 from a stake of 100 while the latter gives a win of 100 from a stake of 110. This is when you need to take extra care when viewing your odds to ensure you are getting the very best deal from your bookmaker if using American odds.

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