Last updated: 02/04/2024

How Do Betting Odds Work: A Beginner’s Guide

How Do Betting Odds Work: A Beginner’s Guide

Have you ever noticed your buddies betting while watching football? Placing a few bets is a popular way to boost your sports enjoyment. However, it’s hard to keep an eye on the score while also Googling “How do betting odds work” and trying to find a simple guide to help you get started. But that’s where we come in! 

If you’re curious about sports betting but don’t know how to get started, we’re here to help. In this guide, you’ll learn how betting odds work and which types you can use without any fluff. You’ll be a pro in minutes! Scroll down to learn more now.  

What Are Betting Odds & How Do They Work?

Before we tackle how betting odds work, we’ll quickly run through the basics and answer what are odds in betting. 

What Does Odds Mean in Betting?

Betting odds are numbers used by bookies to show the probability of an event happening. That figure also shows how much they’re willing to pay out if the odds are right (AKA if the outcome happens). 

What Are Good Odds in Betting?

Good odds provide favourable potential returns in relation to the probability of the event happening. In simple terms, good odds are more likely to happen, and you’re more likely to receive a payout. 

However, good odds also depend on your betting style. For example, you might be okay with taking a larger risk. The larger the risk you have, the larger your potential win. However, you’ll also have a higher probability of the event not occurring. 

How Do You Understand Betting Odds?

Understanding betting odds is easy once you know that the numbers represent the probability of the event occurring. Knowing what the odds mean allows you to evaluate the potential return of your bet and whether or not it’s risky. 

There are three main types of odds (fractional, decimal, and moneyline odds), but more about these and how to read them below!

Popular Types of Betting Odds

You might have noticed that different bookies use different formats. This is no accident! There are different odds you need to know before you start sports betting. 

So, why do some use decimals and some percentages? Do fractions have a different meaning? Not exactly. All betting formats have the same goal – to show you the bet’s probability. 

However, you must know how to read each type before betting. Find a quick rundown of how to read betting odds below. 

Fractional Odds

Fractional or British odds show the ratio of the profit/amount won to the bet’s stake. These odds are written with a hyphen (-) or slash (/) and are commonly used by Irish and British bookmakers.

For example, if you had 5/1 odds, you can win £5 for every £1 you wager – plus your initial stake. 

Decimal Odds

Decimal odds (European or continental odds) show the potential total return, including the initial stake. These are popular in Europe, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. 

With these odds, 5.00 with a £1 bet would return £5 and your original stake. Typically, decimal odds are considered the easiest to understand. Underdogs and favourites can also be spotted much more easily with this system. 

Moneyline Odds

Moneyline odds, or American/US odds, use + and – signs to show the favourites and the underdogs. Positive (+) odds show the possible profit on a $100 bet, whereas negative (-) ones show the amount you’ll need to bet to win $100. 

Winners get their wagers back in addition to their winnings. Moneyline odds are mostly seen in American sports like the NFL and basketball betting not on GamStop. 

How to Calculate Payouts

Now you know how to interpret betting odds, you’ll next need to know how odds work in betting when it’s time to calculate your payout. 

Working out your payout is determined by the odds you use. Here’s a quick breakdown of the main three types:

  • Fractional Odds – In fractional odds, you need to divide the numerator figure by the denominator. Then, you need to multiply the result by your initial stake.
  • Decimal Odds – For decimal odds, you multiply your stake by the odds.
  • Moneyline Odds – Moneyline odds always use $100 as a base, meaning positive (+) odds show the potential profit on a $100 bet, and negative (-) ones show the amount needed to win $100. To know your payout, add your initial stake to the potential profit. 

Learning how to understand betting and odds comes in time. The best way to get familiar with odds is to place a few low-cost bets to see how the process works firsthand. 

7 Expert-Approved Tips For Betting Success

Knowing how to understand odds in betting is one thing, but having expert-approved tips is another. To help you enhance your experience, we’ve spoken to our team of industry experts to give you some extra knowledge. 

1. Read Expert Guides

How do odds work in betting? What are the betting odds? Which is best for you? If these questions are on your mind, the first step is to read some expert guides. Our website is packed with insider information from industry professionals, perfect if you’re just starting your journey with bookies and betting sites not on GamStop.

2. Set A Betting Budget

Setting a budget is critical for any gambling, not just sports betting. This allows you to keep track of your finances and understand how much you can wager on each bet. Budgets are also necessary to keep yourself safe from financial problems.

3. Use Online Sportsbooks

If you haven’t already, explore the world of online sportsbooks. These websites and apps allow you to bet on the go, and they’re easy to use for beginners and experts alike. Perfect if you’ve just worked out what betting odds mean and want to bet from the comfort of your home.

4. Understand Betting Strategies

Did you know that there are different betting strategies? Alongside knowing how odds work, you might want to explore some common strategies. 

Popular betting strategies include:

  • Backing heavy favourites
  • Betting based on winning streaks
  • Betting with market prices in mind

You don’t need to always use a strategy to know how sports betting odds work. But playing with them now and then will enhance your general understanding.

5. Diversify Your Bets

Another way to improve your betting experience is to diversify your bets through betting on different sports, markets, and betting types. Again, this builds up your familiarity with betting and introduces you to different odds and strategies. 

Top UK sports betting categories include:

6. Set Realistic Goals

Though it would be amazing, you likely won’t win every bet you make – even if you have spent hours learning what the odds mean in betting. Starting with a realistic objective and understanding that betting is unpredictable will stand you in good stead for the future of your betting career.

7. Avoid Impulsive Bets

Finally, avoid making impulsive bets or betting after an emotional reaction. Wins and losses happen, but don’t let anger or excitement make you break away from your betting strategy. If in doubt, take a moment to re-research what betting odds mean and how they work to help you focus your mind.

Common Betting Mistakes To Avoid

When you know how betting odds are determined and how to read them, you should also study common betting mistakes to avoid. Here are our top picks:

  • Chasing losses
  • Emotional betting
  • Ignoring your budget and bankroll management
  • Betting without sports or strategy research 
  • Ignoring your personal biases or team loyalties 

Knowing how to read betting odds in the UK is essential, but so is avoiding these mistakes. Reflect for a minute or two before every bet to ensure you’re gambling responsibly.

Why It’s Critical To Manage Your Bankroll

As already mentioned in this blog, managing your bankroll is critical whenever you’re gambling. A stringent budget and a managed bankroll decrease the likelihood of impulse bets or chasing losses, leaving you in control of your finances. 

Good bankroll management also reduces the likelihood of financial problems from sports betting. As you don’t spend outside your allocated budget, you’re less likely to spend more than you can afford or end up in debt. 

A managed bankroll considers inevitable losses and, therefore, provides a safer and more balanced betting experience. 

If at any point gambling isn’t fun anymore or you can’t stop betting, a professional gambling charity (like GambleAware) can provide non-judgemental and anonymous help.

How To Find Value in Betting Odds

Alongside working out what are good betting odds, you’ll need to know how to find value in betting odds. 

There are a few simple steps you can take to do so, including:

  • Researching the betting market
  • Looking at past team performance and mitigating factors (i.e. player injury)
  • Assessing the probability of the odds
  • Looking for odds where the calculated probability exceeds the implied probability

You can also look at different bookies to shop around for different odds. Less popular events and niche sports may have less accurate odds, but you’ll need to know your stuff before betting on a new sport!

Other Common Sports Betting Odds Questions

Do you still have a few questions about how betting odds work? Here are some more FAQs.

What Does Match Odds Mean In Betting?

Match odds are a basic type of sports bet wager. This is where you predict a winner, loser, or draw. Match odds can be predicted as fractional decimal, or moneyline depending on where you are and what sports you’re betting on. Next time someone asks “What are match odds in betting?” send them this page!

What Are Betting Lines?

Betting lines are a set of point spreads or odds created by the bookmaker to show different outcomes. These lines show different payouts for different numbers, including moneylines, totals, point spreads, and other betting types. However, betting lines aren’t as popular and you’re more likely to deal with fractional odds. 

What Do The Numbers In Betting Mean?

In sports betting, the numbers reflect the odds and potential of a win! These are displayed in fractional, decimal, and moneyline odds. Scroll up on this page to read more about each type of odds.

Conclusion: Start Betting With Confidence

Hopefully, this blog has taught you what betting odds mean and how to understand betting them for UK sports. Sports betting can level up your enjoyment of any event, so if you’re curious about the bookies, this is your sign to go for it! Just make sure you do your due diligence before playing and manage your bankroll for a safe and responsible experience.

Keep learning today. Find more expert betting guides on the Non-GamStop Betting blog.

Meet Our Team Of Gambling Specialists

Hello! I’m David Goldblatt, the lead author at I’m an experienced sports journalist who transitioned into making online gambling content in the mid-2010s. It’s something that fascinates me and I’ve always loved the way sports betting can make any event more exciting!

When I’m not researching the latest non-GamStop bookies, I’ll be playing football in the park or watching the local cricket club with my mates. I’m a massive advocate for responsible gambling, so feel free to message me if you need help. Other than that, I hope you enjoy my stuff and can find some trustworthy betting sites to join!