Sports betting can be very simple or very complicated, depending on how seriously you take it. For people who just want to bet on their favorite teams during big games, the most popular types of bets are fairly straight-forward. For those looking to make consistent, long-term profits, you’ll need to do a lot more homework.
How to Read Sports Betting Odds
For those who are just starting, the first thing to know is how to read the odds. Most online bookmakers display their odds in the three most popular formats, called fractional, decimal, and American. Depending on where you live, you’re likely to be familiar with at least one of these odds formats. At any bookmaker, look for a button that allows you to change the odds to your preferred format.
Fractional odds are simple enough to learn, especially if you remember any of the fourth grade. They are displayed in the same way you’re used to reading fractions, so most people should already have a head start.
The number on the left side of the fraction shows us how much profit can be won, while the number on the right represents the wager amount. Odds of 3/2 pay £3 in profit for every £2 wagered. 10/1 pays £10 profit for every £1 wagered. If the odds are 2/5, you can earn £2 in profit for every £5 wagered.
Decimal odds are very common, and most punters think this is the easiest odds format to understand. They read as a simple number, like 3.25 or 9.70. They are based on a wager of 1 unit (depending on your currency). The first thing to know about decimal odds is that they include the original wager amount.
For example, odds of 9.00 is equal to 8/1 in fractional odds because it includes the original wager of 1 unit (8 + 1 = 9). Decimal odds of 3.25 is equal to 2.25/1 fractional odds.
Types of Sports Bets
On most US sports events, there are three different types of odds available for every event: the side, the moneyline and the total. The most simple of these is the money line. This is simply a bet on who will win the game. So, for example, if the Indianapolis Colts met the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl, the money line might be Colts -600, Seahawks +450. If you think the Seahawks will win, you can bet $100 to make $450 profit. If you think the Colts will win you can bet $600 to win $100.
The money line bet is simply a bet on who will win the game.The most popular way to bet is the side, also known as the point spread or line. In order to balance the two teams in the betting, the lines maker (the person who sets the betting odds) will give the stronger team a handicap to balance the two teams out in the betting. So, using the same example as above with the Colts and Seahawks meeting in a Super Bowl, the lines maker may decide the Colts are 11 points superior to the Seahawks.
Betting the Points (the side)
If you bet on the Colts -11 you will get odds of -110 but you only win if the Colts beat the Seahawks by more than 11 points. If the Colts win by 10 points or fewer or they lose the game, all bets on the Seahawks +11 are winners. If the game is won by the Colts by exactly 11 points then that is known as a push and all bets are refunded to the players. The side or point spread is widely used across all American sports and is the most popular form of betting with US bettors.
Totals Bet (“Over/Under”)
The total is a bet on how many points in total will be scored by both sides combined in a particular game. Using the Colts vs Seahawks example again, the lines maker may decide this game is likely to be very high scoring and set the total at 51. If you think there will be fewer than 51 points in total, you bet on the “under.” If you think there will be more, then you bet on the “over.”
If there are exactly the total number of points then that is a push and all bets are refunded. Sometimes you will see the total line expressed in half points – so, for example, the total might be 42.5 points. This means it is impossible for there to be a push because there is no game where you can score half points as the lines maker sets the line that way so there is always a guaranteed result and NEVER a push.