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MAIN / Betting / Betting Odds Explained: A Guide for Beginners

Online sports betting odds and probabilities can seem complicated and intimidating for newbie bettors. However, if you want to gain regular profits through your bets, understanding these subjects is necessary.

This guide is for everyone who needs to get a grip on the basics of sports betting odds and probabilities. It contains a comprehensive explanation of the main terms and ways to operate them. You’ll learn how to read sports odds and calculate winning chances. You’ll also understand ways to access possible profits and make better betting decisions.

What Are Betting Odds and Probabilities?

Betting odds and probabilities are ways to express the chance of getting a particular outcome from an event. Probability shows how likely an event is to occur, odds are used to measure possible profit.

Consider a situation when you’re going to bet on your favorite cricket team. The probability will presume your team’s chances to win the game. Meanwhile, sports odds will specify how much money you can earn from your bet.

There are three different ways of representing sports betting odds:

  1. American odds aka moneyline odds (ex. +250, -130)
  2. Fractional odds (ex. 2/1)
  3. Decimal odds (ex. 5.0)

In the next paragraph, we’ll look closely at the usage and calculations for each type.

What Are Different Types of Sports Betting Odds?

All types of sports betting odds are used to express the same thing. But then again, each type’s popularity depends on the sports bettors’ geolocation. Below you’ll find an explanation showing how different kinds of odds are calculated and how to read them.

American Odds

This type of sports betting odds, also known as moneyline odds, is mostly used in the US. Here are two typical examples:

  1. +220
  2. -220

The formulas to calculate profit with American odds will differ depending on the sign before the number:

  1. For positive number (plus): payout = (stake/100) x odds
  2. For negative number (minus): payout = (100/odds) x stake

Here’s how the formulas can be applied for the example above, if the initial stake is $150:

  1. Payout = (150/100) x 220 = $330
  2. Payout = (100/220) x 150 = $68.18

The “+” sign before the number usually indicates the team with low chances of winning. On the contrary, the “-” sign implies it is a bettor’s favorite.

Fractional Odds

Fractional odds are used mostly in Europe. Here possible income is represented through a fraction of the money staked. It looks like this:

  • A/B, where A is the amount of money you win for a B amount of money from your stake.

So, the payout = (A+B) x (stake/B). For example, 5/1 odds show that for every $1 that you wager, you will get $5 of profit. Thus, for the stake of $10, the total payout will be: (5+1)x($10/1) = $60.

Decimal Odds

This type of odds, popular in Europe, shows the total amount of money you can win for a particular stake. It can be expressed with the following formula:

Payout = stake x odds

If the decimal odds are 8.0 and you wager $2, the total amount of money you get will be $2×8 = $16.

Remember that this number includes the stake which you get back. So to calculate the pure profit, you need to subtract the stake from it. In our example, that would be $16-$2=$14.

Comparing Different Types of Odds

So, how would the practical application of all those types of sports betting odds look? Let’s consider an example of one cricket match: Sydney Thunder vs. Melbourne Renegades. The cricket odds for Melbourne Renegades to win are as follows:

  • American: -125
  • Fractional: 0.8/1
  • Decimal: 1.8

Let’s suppose that our stake is $75.

Using the formulas mentioned above, we can calculate the winning profit in 3 different ways:

  • (100/125) x 75 = $60
  • (0,8+1) x (75) = $135
  • 8 x 75 – 75 = $60

Since the second result (fractional odds) includes $75 of the initial stake, all the results are equal ($135-$75=$60). You can switch between the types of odds using formulas or online converters. On the Parimatch betting app, you can select your desired type of odds. You can pick the preferred option, and the same will be converted automatically.

What is your favorite type of sports betting odds?

How Do Betting Odds Work?

Betting odds work in two major ways. First, they show the probability with which an event (like a particular team’s victory) will occur. Second, they estimate the amount of money that you can win if that specific event happens.

How Do Bookmakers Set Their Odds?

There are two basic factors that online sportsbooks take into consideration when setting their odds:

  • Statistical probability
  • Their profit

Therefore, in actual betting odds, each probability is changed by applying a particular margin rate. Let’s take a look at an example:

  • Team’s A chances for a win are 80%.
  • For team B, the chances are 20%.
  • The margin of the sportsbook rate is 5%.
  • The implied probability will be 85% for team A and 25% for team B.

Why Do Betting Online Odds Change?

Betting odds mainly change because of the irregular patterns of actual bets. Bettors don’t actually place their stakes in strict proportion with an initially expected probability. This is why the bookmakers need to adjust the odds depending on the new proportions.

The odds also change because of the factors that influence the team’s or athlete’s chances to win. These include injuries, team lineup, weather forecast, etc. However, if you placed a wager on an upcoming event, you may rest assured the odds for you won’t change.

How to Read Betting Odds

Learning how to read betting odds is essential if you want to use betting tips effectively. One of the key concepts here is “odds on” and “odds against.”

“Odds on” means betting for a high probability of the team winning. It usually implies that the bettor receives less money than they staked.

Let’s take a look at an example:

  • The odds are 1/5.
  • The probability for the event to happen is 83.3%.
  • The winnings for the stake of $1 will be (1+5)x($1/5) = $1.2.
  • The real profit is only $0.2.

“Odds against” implies that the bettor receives more money than their initial stake. But the probability of this is low.

Here’s the example:

  • Decimal odds are 2.5, the probability of the event will be 1/2.5 = 0.4 = 40%
  • For fractional odds of 1/5, the probability is 5/(5+1) = 0.83 = 83%
  • For American odds of +120 and -120:
    • Positive: 100/(120+100) x 100 = 45.5%
    • Negative: 120/(120+100) x 100 = 54.6%

In general, odds with higher possible profits imply a lower chance to win.

How to Use Odds to Calculate Probability

Odds are a way to express the likelihood of an event happening. So by using betting odds, you can calculate the implied probability. The ways to do this are as follows:

  • For decimal odds: probability = 1/odds
  • For fractional odds: probability = number on the right side/sum of both
  • For American odds:
    • (Positive) probability = 100 / (odds + 100) x 100
    • (Negative) probability = odds / (odds + 100) x 100

Let’s consider some examples:

  • If we have decimal odds of 2.5, the probability of this event will be 1/2.5 = 0.4 = 40%
  • For fractional odds of 1/5, the probability is 5/(5+1) = 0.83 = 83%
  • For American odds of +120 and -120:
    • Positive: 100/(120+100) x 100 = 45.5%
    • Negative: 120/(120+100) x 100 = 54.6%

Odds of Winning at Online Casinos

When it comes to casino games, there are some where you can rely on pure luck. And that’s surely great as in this case, you can relax and play, and there’s no need to think about any strategies. If luck is on your side, you will win! However, not all casino games rely on luck. Sometimes, you may use various strategies that might raise your winning odds and even allow you to win more.

In online slots, you should mostly rely on luck and choose slots with the highest RTP (if you want to win). But in case you seek online casino games with the highest odds, preferring table games will be a good idea. In this case, not everything depends on luck, and you can use your skills to raise your winning chances. Let’s take a closer look at this issue. It will help us uncover some tips on improving the chances of winning while playing online casino games.


Before we review some tips about winning at slots, let’s review how it all works first. At this very moment, slots are the most demanding online casino games. They are entirely down to chance, and there’s no winning strategy involved. Absolutely each person has the same chance to win the game. All that you need to do is to deposit funds and spin the reels.

The likelihood of winning while playing online slots is contingent on RTP (Return to Player Ratio). The higher the RTP is, the better your winning chances are. Let’s run over a few tips that might enhance your winning chances:

  • Choose slots with a free demo version. This allows you to test the gameplay for free and see how it all works. As a result, when you’re playing for real money, it will be easier for you to make bets. You’ll practice for a while and get some hints on how to win.
  • Choose slots with the highest RTP. It should be more than 96%. These slots offer much better and more frequent payouts. Suppose you see that a specific slot offers an RTP of 96%. In that case, the gambling platform will get only 4% of all the bets that the player made while playing.
  • Check the paytable first. You have to remember that each slot comes with a set of unique symbols. Therefore, you need to learn which symbol is more valuable for you.
  • Control your budget, especially if you can’t control your emotions. You need to decide how much you can afford to spend and never bet more than you have!

Live Casino

If you are looking for a fantastic online gambling experience but don’t want to leave the comfort of your home, go to a live casino. At Parimatch, we offer a huge collection of live casino games, so you will never get bored! A live casino game is usually demonstrated via a live streaming video link. Once you join the game, you’ll see a human dealer on the screen of your device. This person leads the game and accepts your bets.

When choosing this option, you’ll be able to play poker, baccarat, blackjack, or any other table game with professional live dealers. If your goal is to enhance your win probability, you need to know which table game is more likely to bring a win. This is where you need to choose games where specific strategies can be used, like poker or baccarat.


Poker odds are variable because, in this game, the element of skill plays a big role. When playing poker, you have more control over the game. Luck also plays a role, but in poker, a lot depends on your experience, success, and your knowledge of poker rules.

Here are some tips about calculating odds:

  • Check the number of outs left in the deck;
  • Multiply this number by 4;
  • After this turn, multiply the number of rounds by 2.

If you want to improve your winning chances while playing this game, you need to do the following:

  • Start playing with small sums or micro stakes;
  • Make sure you enter the pot with a raise pre-flop;
  • Avoid calling too many 3-bets preflop;
  • Learn the art of bluffing.


It’s another fantastic table game that can also be played at online casinos. There are American and European versions of this game. You need to remember that both have their own sets of roulette odds. For example, if you play American roulette, the house edge in this game is 5,26%. If you prefer playing European roulette, the house edge will be 2,70%. Therefore, if you make an even-money bet, the odds will be 47.37% (in American roulette) and 48.6% (in European roulette).

How to raise your winning probability while playing online roulette? Let’s review some tips:

  • Always play for free before you understand the game rules;
  • Make sure you know the paytable;
  • Start playing with smaller bets;
  • Take breaks to stay focused;
  • Play European or French roulettes as they have better odds.


What about blackjack probability? Statistically, this game is considered to have the most profitable odds. But it is not for newbies. This is where you need to follow the basic blackjack strategy. The odds of winning in this game are 42,22%. Let’s review some tips on how to raise your winning chances while playing:

  • Try to double down when it is the best time for it;
  • Don’t forget to split your pairs;
  • Play a soft hand;
  • Learn how to play with a hard hand;
  • Avoid making insurance bets.

Of course, you can’t calculate the winning ratio. But you can use our tips to enhance your winning chances and win more!


The principles outlined in the article above can serve as guidelines for increasing the winnings in betting.

  1. Different types of odds are essentially the same and represent the possible outcome.
  2. Use odds to calculate the probability of getting a particular result.
  3. Determine your preferences (higher profit vs. lower risk) before making a bet.

Now that you know how to read betting odds, why not practice on a real bookmaker’s website?  Parimatch offers a huge variety of sports to bet on. Yes, it is home to many online games and provides highly competitive odds. (read: better for you compared to other bookies). So be sure to sign up, find your favorite sport, and place a bet.

Betting Odds FAQ

What is the difference between odds and probability?

Probability is a statistical concept that expresses the likelihood of the event to happen.

Odds also express the likelihood of the event (its probability). But in addition to that, they show the possible profit one can gain if the event happens.

Why do I need to understand sports betting odds?

If you want to earn money by betting, understanding sports betting odds is crucial. When you know how odds work, you can estimate and compare possible profits to make the best bets.

Why do different bookmakers have different betting odds?

When an online betting site sets the odds, the bookmaker considers both the probability and profit (margin). Since the margin coefficients of different bookmakers may vary, the same goes for the odds as well.

Remember, the prognoses for a particular event are subjected to change, contributing to the odds.

Why would you bet on negative odds?

Negative odds show that the possibility of winning the bet is high. But remember, the amount of money to win is relatively tiny. Hence, betting on negative odds can be a good strategy for those who want to reduce the risks rather than maximize the outcome.

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