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How To Read American Odds

How To Read American Odds

To be successful in betting, you must understand the odds presented to you. If you have struggled with reading odds in the past, then our betting experts’ guide will walk you through the fundamentals of American odds.

There are three main forms of betting in US sports. American odds, fractional, and decimal. The former of these is sometimes called moneyline betting. These tend to be found on sportsbooks catering to a US sports audience.

The involvement of (+) and (-) signs makes this type of odds confusing compared to the others. However, once this guide takes you through some straightforward rules, understanding these odds will become a lot easier.

American Odds Simplified

Some bettors consider American odds the simplest. The system works around the value of a bet comparative to $100. The (+) or (-) will tell you additional information about this bet.

The (-) indicates the team you are betting on is considered the favorite. The number that comes next to this symbol (For example, -150) shows how much money you need to bet to win $100. In this example, if you bet $150, you would receive $100 and the return of your stake. The higher the number next to the
(-), the more money you have to stake to win $100, illustrating how favored a team is.

In contrast, the (+) is attached to the underdog’s odds. The number next to the symbol shows how much money you will win from a $100 stake. Therefore the greater the number, the greater potential for winnings, but it also makes it unlikelier in the eyes of oddsmakers. $100 on a +500 underdog would return $500 in winnings and also return your stake.

The bet doesn’t always have to be $100. The odds can be scaled to suit your bet.

Moneylines vs. Point Spread

This method of odds is taken and used in two ways by sportsbooks, as moneylines or in combination with a point spread.


A moneyline bet involves a player picking the winner of an event or match. The only thing you need to worry about is the odds you will be picking. As an example:

●   Team 1: -200
●   Team 2: +200

Using the logic explained above, we should be able to work out the odds for both of these teams. Team 1 is the favorite, and to win $10 you would have to wager $20. Picking the underdog at +200 would mean if you wager $10, you win $20.

Points Spread

The other way sportsbooks use this system is by pairing the numbers with a ‘line.’ This can come as a point spread or over/under bet. The money won is on the margin of victory in a sports event. To show another example:

●   Team 1: -5.5 -200
●   Team 2: +5.5 -200

Team 1 having -5.5 next to their odds means that they have to win in whatever sport they are playing and score at least 6 points for your bet to come through. The same logic as above applies to how much you win – from $20, $10 profit, and a return of the $20 stake.

For the underdog’s point spread to come in, they simply have to win or lose by less than 6 points. So if an NFL game finished 7-4 and you bet on the losing underdog, your bet would still come through as they only lost by 3 points. A $10 bet on that would have returned $20 winnings and the $10 stake.

How To Calculate American Odds

You can use these basic formulas to calculate odds whether you want to bet on underdogs or favorites:

Underdog Method

To calculate how much you want to win, refer to the example below:

Wager x (moneyline ÷ 100)
$20 x (+250 ÷ 100) = $50

Remember to solve the formula in the correct order. Complete the brackets first (250 ÷ 100).

Favorite Method

For the favorite, the method for calculating how much you want to win is more complicated. The example below explains:

Win Amount x ((-1 x moneyline) ÷ 100)

$20 x ((-1 x -250) ÷ 100) = $50

Remember (-) symbols cancel each other out in equations (So -1 x -250 = 250), and that brackets within brackets are completed first. To finish the equation:
250 ÷ 100 = 2.5.
20 x 2.5 = $50.


At a glance, American odds can seem confusing compared to other styles. Through the teachings of this guide, you should be able to read American odds and calculate everything you need to bet smartly. You should be able to read American Odds on any US sportsbook and be ready to enjoy betting knowledgeably.

So now that you know how to read American odds like a seasoned bettor, it’s time to sign up to a legal sportsbook, find the best odds and join the action.

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