How do American Odds Work?

by Fractions
Updated: 31/05/2022 08:13

American Odds Explained

When browsing online betting sites, customers have the option of various odds formats.

Traditionally, prices have been shown as fractional odds but a lot of people prefer to show them as decimal odds nowadays due to the fact it can be easier to work out potential profits offered.

However, an alternative is to have the prices shown as American odds – so how do they work?

American Odds

It goes without saying that American odds are how prices tend to be displayed in the US. Many of the biggest and best UK betting sites will now also let users see American odds too.

American odds look very different to how the same price would look as decimal or fractional odds. When the price is the same, no matter the odds format the potential profit is the same.

For American odds, users will see a number shown with either a positive sign, the +, or a negative sign, which is the -, so there is no decimal point or slash involved for these odds.

When the number is negative, for example, -100 in American odds, this number is the amount of money that would need to be staked in order to achieve $100 profit – or your chosen currency.

On the flip side, when the number in American odds is positive, so +100 for example, this means this is the profit that would be achieved in the event of a $100 bet being placed.

The important thing to remember is that $100 – or the equivalent in whatever currency you are choosing to use – is always used as the baseline metric when American odds are displayed.

As an example of American odds, evens as a fractional price would be 1/1, even if it is usually called evens or just evs, would be -100 in American odds or 2.0 when shown as a decimal.

Anyone who is still confused about American odds and how they work can use a free online calculator in order to turn American odds into fractional odds or decimal odds very easily.

It all sounds quite complicated for those who are more used to decimal or fractional odds. Yet over in the US, American odds are very much the norm. It just depends on what you are used to when browsing online betting sites for winning wagers on your favourite major sporting events.

American odds can be particularly handy for handicap betting, which are common markets that are offered for a lot of the most popular sporting competitions in the US like the NBA and NFL.

Let’s take a look at how American odds work in practice in the next part of our complete guide.

Example of American Odds in Practice

To help to explain how American odds work, let’s use the example of a Premier League football match between Liverpool and their rivals Everton which is set to take place at Anfield.

Liverpool are the favourites with UK online betting sites, with a price of -135 offered for the Reds to come out on top in the Merseyside derby. As we mentioned above, a negative sign in front of a number means that players must stake £100 – or the same in their chosen currency – in order to achieve a profit of the number shown in the American odds format, so £35 in this example.

Everton would be the underdogs, so let’s say the price given for the Toffees is+350 in American odds. This means £350 would be won by anyone who bets £100 on the wager if Everton wins.

American odds are deemed very fast and convenient by a lot of people, but it is fair to say that fractional prices and decimal odds are still going to be preferred by many UK sports fans.

Ultimately, it is just down to personal preference whether American odds are the best format.

Steven is the product manager on BettingLounge and is an experienced iGaming writer who has been working in the industry since 2018.


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