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How to Read Sports Odds

Now that we’ve identified and broken down the most common betting markets you’re likely to find while perusing your sportsbook for value bets, it’s time to dive into the odds of it all to make sure you understand everything you should to have success with sports betting.

If you’re betting with a co-worker or a buddy, you’ll usually just bet straight up: the winner will receive the same amount no matter who that might be. Not so with sportsbooks. There is a favorite and an underdog at every sporting event, and each participant’s position on the favorite to underdog scale is how they determine odds for that participant to win.

The people that create the Vegas odds and all of the other lines (which is a synonym for odds) study the sports in question to determine the odds for each side. How to read Vegas odds is a basic part of being a successful sports bettor, and when we say ‘Vegas odds’ we just mean the odds in general because that town is the one most closely associated with gambling and betting. Not to mention it’s the place where sports gambling has been legal the longest in America.

The odds or the line for any given betting market is basically an expression of how likely the participant in question is going to succeed in whatever it is that’s being bet on. While it’s common to hear the opposite in every day life, in betting, lower odds mean an outcome is more likely, and higher odds mean it is less likely. Low odds mean low returns, high odds mean high returns.

Understanding odds also depends on how you’re reading them, however. There are three major ways that sportsbooks will display their odds, and understanding them all can really open up your betting possibilities, as some sports betting sites only offer one way to read odds.

Most of the top sportsbooks offer the ability to toggle between different kinds of odds, however, which not only offers more flexibility for bettors, but also allows them to compare the odds to one another, helping them to better understand each.

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