When wagering on sports there are generally three types of price options that you will see. Most Americans are familiar with American odds where the standard prices you will see look like -110, or +120, etc. The rest of the world is more familiar with decimal pricing. These odds look like 1.855 or 4.225. Unlike the metric system, it really isn’t that hard to figure out. Finally, some books still use fractional pricing although that is less common these days.
For the purpose of explaining the different prices let’s use for example the Yankees with C.C. Sabathia at home against the Minnesota Twins and a Triple-A call up on the mound. We will assume that the Yankees are a little better than 2 to 1 favorites.
Standard American Odds
To win $100 on the Yankees you must risk $225. A $100 bet on the Twins will earn you $200 if they win. It is easy to think about the numbers in increments of $100 for simplicity. Of course you can always wager whatever amount you want. For the favorite, think about putting down whatever the negative number is (-225) to win $100. As for the underdog, always think the + number is what you would win if you wagered $100 (in this scenario, $200).
To understand decimal pricing think of multiplying your $100 stake by the odds. In decimal pricing your original stake is included in the number returned to you when multiplying. In this example, multiplying 100 x 1.444 returns $144.00. A $44 profit in addition to your $100 you wagered. Multiplying 100 x 3.00 returns $300 which is a $200 profit plus your original bet of $100. Although decimal pricing is at first foreign looking it really is simple when you get used to it. Multiply whatever your wager amount is by the line and it will give you your total return (profit + original wager).
Fractions aren’t hard if you are proficient in math. For most American bettors you will almost assuredly never have to worry about them that much. They are more prevalent in futures odds that many Vegas Sportsbooks post on their big board. If the number on the left is bigger than the number on the right, you will win that number if you risk the number on the right. In our example above for every 1 unit (the number on the right) you risk, you win 2 units on the event. So, risking 1 unit on the Twins will net you 2 units profit ($100 wins $200). If you wager on the favorite, (the number on the right is bigger) you must risk that amount to win the number on the left. If you were to bet the Yankees and risked 9 units you would win 4. You can still risk $225 and win $100 as the numbers work out the same.
Different books post different numbers with decimal and fractional odds more popular in other parts of the world. Most Americans will deal with American pricing but it doesn’t hurt to be proficient in the other forms of betting odds. You wouldn’t want to miss a winner because you couldn’t understand the formatting!