How to Read Odds

Betting odds in football have their own language; but it's not a difficult language to learn 

In football betting, it is not just about who wins or who loses. Before a game, the chances of winning are analyzed by the sports commentators. The bookmakers translate this into the odds that bettors are familiar. These bettors know how to read odds, and how to make their bets based on these odds.

How to read odds in the U.S.: point spreads are expressed as numbers, with a higher value but negative sign (such as -160) indicating the predicted winning team, and a positive but lower value (for example +120) for the expected loser. The positive sign is always given to the underdog. The different scores for the two teams reflect team standings, wherein one team is considered stronger than the other. When a handicap is introduced, say a -7, it usually deducts from the score of the higher ranked team, whether they win or lose. Thus, even if a favored team wins by a few points, once the handicap applies (and it is pre-set when the bet is made), the handicap would cause them to lose in the bet. However, if the win margin of the score is the same as the handicap, then it is considered "no action" and money is refunded to the bettor.

The prize on the favored team is usually $100 for every bet the same value as the team score. However, for the underdog, it is reversed; for every $100 bet, a better could win $130. In this case, it is $160 for a bet on the favored team, and $120 for the underdog. Thus, using the example above, if the favored team wins, then the bettor gets $100, plus the $160 bet back. However, if the underdog wins, they give the bettor back the $100 plus $120. The winner of the underdog team gets more returns, thus showing why it is sometimes desirable to bet on the underdog in the U.S. system.

Another system used is fractions. How to read odds for fractions is 10/1 or 2/1, the first one representing the more favored team and the latter the underdog. Prizes are multiplied by the odds plus the return of the bet. Say the bettors put down $10. If the favored team wins, they get $100 plus their bet back. If the underdog wins, they get $20 plus their bet back. Sometimes the lower number can be higher, such as 3/2 or 10/7, increasing the multiplier for the bet.

How to read odds in Europe: winnings are expressed as mere decimal numbers. If the value of the odd given is 3.0, and the bet is ?2, then a win would have 3 x ?2 = ?6, plus the ?2 back. If the odds are 0.83, then the win is 0.83 x ?2 = ?1.66, plus the ?2 back. Thus, the American system shows how it tried to balance out the advantage of the favored team over the underdog. How to read odds between countries differs mainly on the system used.