How to Read Sports Betting Odds

Betting odds are usually found on the front page of sportsbooks. However, if you want to read them in actual use, it’s a bit tricky. The following is an easy guide to understanding sports betting odds so that you can make the most of them.

The Basics

When you first arrive at a sportsbook, the first thing you’ll see are the odds. These will be set as follows:

  • Odds To Win
  • Odds To Lose
  • Total Betting Odds
  • Percentage Bets

The first two numbers (e.g., 4.0) are the win rate for the team, while the percentages (e.g., 80%) are the amount of money you’ll need to bet to achieve that win rate. If you want to find out how much it costs to bet on a specific team, simply add up all the odds for that team and divide the total by two.

Some odds may also be presented in another form. For example, the following odds are typical in a sportsbook:

  • -120 Odds To Win
  • +100 Odds To Lose
  • +350 Total Betting Odds
  • 7.0% Bets

These odds are actually referring to the Indianapolis Colts, who are currently playing the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game. If you study the above list, you’ll see that the Colts have a -120 odds to win the game, while the Chiefs have a 100 odds to lose. The Colts’ win rate is 22% (400 + 120 ÷ 2), while the Chiefs’ loss rate is 18% (350 – 100 ÷ 2). Since both teams’ win rates are above 50%, there’s no clear-cut winner in this matchup. However, if you were to bet on the Colts, you’d need to lay down $120 to win $100. If you were to bet on the Chiefs, you’d need to bet $350 to win $100.

Which Number Should I Focus On?

On the previous page, you saw some examples of odds in various forms. Now, let’s examine which number should you focus on. There are three basic guidelines that apply: