How Do Sports Betting Odds Work: Different Types and Ways to Calculate

What are sports betting odds? This is a numerical way of displaying the probability of an event taking into account the subjective opinion of the sportsbook. Different countries use different forms of displaying sports betting odds, and it does not hurt to know the differences.

Most sportsbooks will offer all three ways of displaying the odds.

What types of sports betting odds exist, what do they mean and how do you calculate the chances yourself? Let’s discuss.


It is well known, that the progenitors of modern sports betting for many centuries successfully conducted their activities on almost all continents, so the different ways to present odds were a great many.

However, there are only three main types of sports betting odds used today: English, European and American. The similarities and differences, as well as their pros and cons, will be discussed in this article.

British Sports Betting Odds

It is believed that the birthplace of sportsbooks as independent companies specializing in the acceptance of bets in “industrial volume” is in England. Therefore, it is quite logical that this country has given the sports betting world its own type of odds.

English sports betting odds remain extremely popular in our time as they are more indebted to British gambling establishments, faithfully honoring the traditions of their ancestors. Almost all modern British sportsbooks by default offer exact English odds into their line. English odds have a fractional recording format, such as 20/4 (+500).

These odds show the ratio of net winnings compared to the size of the bet. That is, at a rate of four dollars your net profit (minus the stake) will be $20.

How can you factor these odds? The English quote 20/4 is similar to the European odds 6.0. In order to translate the English odds into the traditional decimal form for us, it is necessary to divide the figure in the number of fractions by the indicator in the denominator, and then to the received number to add one. 

Example: 20/4= (5)+1=6.

European Sports Betting Odds

European odds came to light when the betting business began to gradually move away from the UK to neighboring France, from where the phenomenon rapidly spread across Western Europe. At first, only British offices functioned in Western European countries.

However, after a certain amount of time, the British began to face worthy competitors from French and German gambling establishments. 

Most of the new offices found the calculation using the English odds to be too difficult. Thus, the European or, as it is now called, the decimal factor was born.

At the moment, European sports betting odds are mandatory (though not always by default) and are offered by all sportsbooks in the world without exception, even in the USA.

And for many of them, it is the only one used. The European odds are written in the decimal form – it is traditional to use values here such as 2.0; 4.3, etc.

How do you determine the potential profit? If you take the size of your bet and multiply it by the odds, you will get the amount that the sportsbooks will have to pay in the case of winning the bet.

American Sports Betting Odds

Perhaps the most difficult to understand are the American sports betting odds, although you will, of course, be seeing these the most while betting in the USA.

These odds were born in the United States a few years after the country declared independence.

The American odds quickly took root in local gambling establishments.

The main distinguishing feature of the American coefficients is the presence of the “+” or “-“ sign in front of the digital indicator. This sign helps you to determine which team is the favorite. The status of favorite is signified by the minus sign.

Let’s try and deal with American sports betting odds and calculate the coefficient with an example. Take the odds of -105 (favored team).

This number shows that to get a net win of $100, you must bet $105. The equivalent to this factor in the European system is 1.95. Now let’s look at the example with a plus sign (the underdog). Let’s say we want to bet on odds of +110 which means that in order to make a profit of $110 you need to bet $100.

In general, there it is, the American system. Of course, all of our American sportsbooks will feature these odds including any sportsbooks operating in America.

However, they will also almost always offer English and European sports betting odds as an alternative.

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