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How Do American Odds Work?

If you’re familiar with betting or odds then trying to place your first bet can be quite daunting, so we’re going to help and explain how American odds work.

When it comes to betting, some things may as well be in a foreign language and betting odds are certainly part of that.

The -110 next to your desired bet will be easily understood by experiences bettors in the U.S., but it won’t make sense to most newbies.

How To Read American Odds

As stated in the name, American Odds are primarily used by the sportsbook of North America, with the plus and minus symbols showing what you would need to place down to win $100 or the sum you would claim for every $100 wagered.

There are two basic types of American odds: the ‘favorite’ and the ‘underdog’

Betting on a ‘favorite’ – These odds will have a minus sign (-) next to it, and indicate the money you need to wager in order to win $100.

The higher the number, the better a chance the selection has of winning. So, a -250 favorite has a better chance of winning compared to a -150 favorite.

For example, if you’re betting on the Lakers at -120, you need to place a $120 bet in order to win $100, plus your original wager.

Betting on an ‘underdog’ – These odds will have a (+) sign next to it, to indicate the money you’ll win for every $100 placed.

So the higher the number, the larger the underdog the selection is considered to be. So, a +300 underdog would have a better chance of winning than a +600 underdog.

For example, if you’re betting on the Magic at +130, a $100 bet would return you $130 (plus the original wager) if they win the game.

Both the ‘favorite’ and ‘underdog’ odds will be everywhere in American betting, but there is two different ways they’re used.

They are:

  • On their own. E.g. betting on the winner of a game (moneyline)
  • With a point spread or another line. E.g. over and under. The team you bet on still needs to win the spread.

American Odds On Their Own

We’ll use the Lakers as an example once again, this time they’re coming up against Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Lakers are perceived to be the stronger team in this match-up so are -250 to win the game outright.

Meanwhile, the Thunder are at +200, which means that the Lakers are expected to be the winners of this game 70% of the time.

If you put money on the Lakers to come out on top, you’d have to wager $2.5 for every $1 that you want to win.

On the other hand, if you bet on the Thunder, you’ll win $2 for every $1 you put on, if they win the game.

As the moneyline requires just the winner of a game, all you need is the odds.

American Odds Next To A Point Spread Or Over/Under

The other way that American odds work, is next to a subsequent line, like a point spread or over/under.

Whilst the odds do, of course, imply how much you need to wager in regards to your return, but not what needs to happen for you to win the bet.

For example, if the Lakers are -8.5 -110, you only need to bet $1.10 to win $1 back, but they have to win the game by nine points.

And if the Thunder are +8.5 +110 then the same goes for them. If they lose by 1-8 points or win the game, then you win your bet.

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