Sports Betting Odds Explained

Sports betting is ultimately a game of probability. Anyone who regularly participates in sports betting understands that there is never a 100% chance of any particular outcome actually happening – it’s all about understanding the game and the players so well that you can confidently place your bet on the most likely outcome. But how can someone anticipate the future accurately, and further still, make money off of it?

Understanding International Odds

Regardless of your location or nationality, there are three main formats in which sports betting odds can be displayed, and they all pertain to different regions of the world: North America (USA), England (UK), and Europe (EU). Despite the fact that these regions may use different numbers and symbols to represent odds, the following figures all translate to the same odds of winning (33.3%).

  • USA +200
  • UK ½
  • EU 3.00

Due to its wide reach and easily understandable formatting, the majority of bettors around the world use the EU decimal system when placing international bets. However, each format is used actively in the area of its origin. American odds, for example, are used almost exclusively in the USA, while those based in Britain are naturally prone to using the UK fraction format.

Although each representation of odds may look different depending on where you live, the experienced bettor familiarizes himself with them equally as to play a stronger betting game.

Favourites vs. Underdogs

One of the most important things to understand about sports betting odds is the symbolic difference between favourites and underdogs.

  • Favourite: the player or team with the most popularity and previous wins that establish it as a more obvious candidate for winning the game. When betting on a favourite, bettors will put a minus symbol next to their amount (e.g. – 200).
  • Underdog: the lesser-known player or team with a weaker ranking than the opposition. When betting on an underdog, bettors will put a plus symbol next to their amount (e.g. +200).

Contrary to what you may initially think, those who bet on underdogs can be just as successful as those who bet on favourites.

Betting on underdogs can produce surprising triumphs that deliver better profits, while betting on favourites can be a more consistent method for success. Throughout their careers, many high-level bettors will choose to place their faith in both favourites and underdogs for a stronger betting resume that displays their ability to strategize accurately and take calculated risks.


At the end of the day, it is impossible to always determine how a sports game will unfold. There will always be wildcards like hidden talent, unexpected injuries or a freak incident that changes the direction of a game dramatically. However, through research and experience, anyone can become an odds expert that knows precisely when and how to place a perfectly winning bet.