Betting odds explained (for beginners)

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These days, betting in a number of forms is becoming increasingly popular. But, if you’re new to betting, then getting started can be a little more complicated. As you can imagine, it’s very important to understand exactly how betting odds work. And this is because they’re essentially informing you how likely it is for an event to actually occur.

On top of that, if you understand betting odds, then you’ll also be able to tell how much you could win. Of course, as there are various betting types to consider as well as different bet formats, it can all be a bit daunting for newcomers. To avoid confusion, take a look here as we go through all you need to know about betting odds.

What are betting odds?

Simply put, betting odds are a ratio indicating the probability of an outcome. The numbers represent which event is more likely to happen. So, a higher number (i.e. a payout), will mean that the event is less likely to happen. While a lower number means it’s more likely to occur. The betting odds therefore indicate this as well as how much you can expect to win when you place an A$1 bet.

Understanding probability

When betting, probability plays an important role. You need to be able to predict a specific outcome with a degree of accuracy. And this is where you will start to be able to win money.

With any event, there are a specific number of possible outcomes. If we take the example of rolling a dice, there are six possible options. So, if you are predicting someone will roll a one, then there is a 1 in 6 chance of this actually happening. Alternatively, this is a 16.67% chance. Knowing this is what odds can show will help you make better decisions when selecting betting odds on an event.

Reading betting odds properly

As we’ve mentioned, being able to read these betting odds properly is essential if you want to get ahead. The important thing to remember here is that there are three different formats that odds can be written in – decimal, fractional and moneyline. Most online betting sites will give you the option to toggle between all three so you can pick the one that suits you the most.

Let’s take a more detailed look.


This is possibly the most common betting odds format found on betting sites. They’re very easy to work out too, which is why most betting sites have odds automatically displayed as decimals.

As an example, let’s say that one rugby league team has odds of 9.0 in a game. This means that if you make an A$10 stake, you will get A$80 back as winnings. The higher the odds, the more unlikely an event is to occur.


This odds format is very straightforward when it comes to showing you how much you can stand to gain if you win. They are also very clear when indicating which outcome is more likely to happen. Essentially, the higher the fraction, the lower the probability it will come to pass. But, if it does come to pass, the better the payout will be.

Let’s look at an example of horse racing. For instance, the favourite is listed as 2/1. This means that for every A$1 you place as a bet, you’re going to get A$2 if the horse wins. So you’ll get A$2 in profit plus your A$1 stake back. As you can see, this is a very small fraction so it indicates that there is a high possibility for the horse to win.

If a horse is listed at 40/1, this means that there is a very low probability it will win. However, if it does, you stand to get a payout of A$40 in profit from an A$1 bet.


Typically a moneyline bet is found on American sites. But, as it can also be a bet in its own right, it’s a good idea to get to grips with this odds format too. These odds differ from the other two in that you’ll see  plus sign (+) and a minus (-) next to the odds. A minus sign indicates the favourite while the plus is the underdog.

For instance, in AFL, if one team is at +150, you’ll need to bet A$100 to win A$150. However, if the odds for a win are -150 for a team, you will have to bet A$150 to win A$100.

What makes good odds

At the end of the day, it’s not easy to specify this. Once you get to grips with reading odds, you’ll have a much better idea. Additionally, if you’re well-versed in a specific sport you will also begin to see what makes good odds or not. Essentially though, you want odds that are good value for money and can maximise profits.