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By bparlay | Published On: Sep 7 2021

Guide to Sports Betting and Sportsbooks Odds

Sports Betting

Guide to Sports Betting and Sportsbooks Odds – The sports betting industry continues to grow, and it doesn’t appear that things will be slowing down anytime soon. New bettors are joining the industry every day, but that doesn’t always mean that they are ready to win some money.

Most people get into sports betting without understanding all of the most critical information needed to be successful. One common area that is difficult for sports bettors is how to read odds posted at the sportsbook.

Consider this your first lesson into sportsbook odds, and the information will be broken down so that even the least knowledgable sports bettor will be able to understand them. We will start by looking at the three most common types of odds that you will see before exploring how these work with certain types of bets. 

Knowing how to read and understand sportsbook odds is key if you plan on winning some money. 

American Odds Guide

American odds are most commonly used in the United States, but you will find these odds in other parts of the world as well. You can easily determine that you are dealing with American odds when you see a couple of things.

American odds will always have a (+) or (-) in front of a three-digit number. If you don’t see either of those things, then you are dealing with a different odds system entirely.

The (+) or (-) give away plenty of important information right off the bat. When you see a (-), it means that team is the favorite, while the (+) identifies the underdog in a certain matchup.

The three-digit number tells you how much you have to wager to win $100 or how much you can win by betting $100. 

For example, odds of -135 mean that you would need to bet $135 in order to win $100. On the flip side, odds at +135 mean that a $100 bet could win you $135. 

There is a long and complicated formula used to create American odds, but you don’t need to worry about that formula. Use the basic information that the odds give you to determine how much you can win. 

Fractional Odds Guide

Fractional odds are famously used when it comes to horse racing, but these are also the odds that are used in parts of the UK. These odds might look extremely different at first, but they are actually pretty easy to understand what they mean.

When you look at these odds, you will see something like 3/1 or 7/2. That doesn’t appear like it tells you much, but it actually gives you a clear picture of what the sportsbook thinks.

The first number tells you the probability that a certain team (or horse) will lose, while the second number highlights the likelihood of that team winning. This can be helpful information if you are making a bet on a market that you aren’t comfortable with. 

Decimal Odds Guide

Decimal odds are used at international sportsbooks, but you can usually have these odds displayed at American sportsbooks. Using decimals is not fun when it comes to math, but it can be beneficial when betting on sports.

There is a simple formula to use when determining the potential payout with decimal odds. This formula is:

  • Wager X Odds – Wager

For example, a team might be listed at 2.70, and you are planning to make a wager of $50. Using the formula above, you can determine how much you will win. 

  • 50 X 2.7 – 50 = $85

Of course, online sportsbook apps will display all of this information for you, but it’s a quick and easy process to determine the potential payout with decimal odds. 

How These Odds Work For Different Betting Options

Even though the previous section just broke down the three most common odds used in the sports betting industry, we will take a closer look at American odds in this section.

We have already explained what American odds look like and how they work, but now it’s time to look at different betting options. These odds will look a bit different depending on the type of bet that you are looking to make. 

Money Line

A money line bet is the most accessible betting type to understand and is an excellent bet for beginners to make. With this type of bet, you are simply choosing which team you think will win the game. 

We already went over what the (+) and (-) means when it comes to American odds, and that comes in handy with this type of bet. You automatically know which team is the favorite and underdog just by taking a glance at the odds.

Here is an example of what a money line bet might look like:

  • New England Patriots -145
  • Denver Broncos +165

The Patriots are clearly the favorites in this matchup, while the Broncos are the underdogs. As long as the Patriots win this game by one point, they would be the right pick, and it works the same way for the Broncos.

Again, a $100 bet on the Broncos would return a winning of $165, while it would require a $145 bet on the Patriots to win $100. 


Spread and totals betting are two of the most popular bets to make, especially when it comes to basketball and football. These two bets are grouped because, typically, the odds work the same way.

Usually, both sides of each of these bets come with odds set at -110. This takes some decision-making out of the process because the reward will be the same for each side. 

What this means is that a $110 bet would win you $100, and this is standard when it comes to sports betting. 


A futures bet is a wager that is placed on an event that will take place in the future. The most common futures bets placed are bets on which team or individual will win a specific championship.

Futures odds are released weeks or months in advance, and you will see these odds changing a lot as the season or event goes along. With futures odds, you will see almost every single team or individual have odds with a (+) in front of them.

This means that the team with the lowest number after the (+) is the betting favorite. As you scroll down the list and see the odds get longer, those teams or individuals are less likely to win. 

Here is a brief example of what this might look like:

  • Odds to Win NBA Championship
  • Los Angeles Lakers +330
  • Boston Celtics +425
  • Milwaukee Bucks +700
  • Chicago Bulls +1000
  • Golden State Warriors +1400

In this scenario, the Lakers are the betting favorites, and the rest of the teams fall in line. Futures bets are popular because there is a chance for a nice payout with a winning bet. 


A parlay wager is our specialty here at BParlay, and it has become one of the most popular betting options. A parlay is a bet that is made up of at least two or more “legs.”

A leg is a single bet, and these legs are combined to form the parlay wager. With this type of bet, you are setting the odds by adding different legs to your parlay. Learn more about this type of bet with the Picks and Parlay resources.

These odds will continue to get longer with each leg that you add, but you will also be increasing the potential payout. 

Guide to Sports Betting – Things to Remember:

Now that you have a better understanding of how to read and understand betting odds, it’s time to put that knowledge to the test. Before you head to the sportsbook and begin placing bets, there are two things that you need to remember. 

These are just general betting tips, but they relate directly to the odds you will see at the sportsbooks. 

Odds Can Change

The first thing to keep in mind is that betting odds can change at any time, and there is no limit on how many times those odds can change. Sportsbooks will always set the opening odds as early as possible, but there are times that changes need to be made. 

Injuries and new information are two of the biggest reasons that odds can change at the sportsbook, but there are other factors in play as well. Sportsbooks keep a close eye on how much action is being placed on each side of the bet and can alter odds to protect themselves.

Be sure to keep a close eye on the betting odds and look for changes. If you see the odds change, then you need to research to determine why they are changing. 

Different Sportsbook; Different Odds

Another thing to keep in mind is that each sportsbook can have different odds posted. You usually won’t see a big difference in the odds listed at sportsbooks, but that isn’t always the case.

Some sportsbooks will be offering promotions or odds boosts, and that could give you a better edge. Other times, sportsbooks might be slow to react to breaking news, and you can get the odds at a much favorable price.

It’s always best to “shop around” and find the best odds available before making any wager.  Please feel free to drop us a line if you want to learn more about bets that are not listed in our Guide to Sports Betting.

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