# Football Odds Explained and How to Read Them

If you have any interest in football betting, it is useful to understand the different ways in which odds can be displayed. The format can vary depending on which country you live in or which betting website you are visiting, and learning how they are calculated is a useful exercise for any punter.

There are many different ways in which odds can be displayed but they all fall into three main categories:

Return odds: These formats display your potential returns or net returns. Examples include the fractional, decimal and Hong Kong systems.

Moneyline odds: These odds are based on either the risk required to win or the potential reward to be gained from a certain stake. Examples include the American and Indonesian systems.

Percentage odds: This is a less common format that displays the implied probability of a bet.
Before we explore how these odds are calculated, it is worth pointing out that most sports betting and betting exchange websites give you the option to change the format in which their odds are displayed. You will find that there should be an option to select your preferred odds format. The location of this option will vary from website to website.

How to read the different type of odds

Fractional Odds:

These odds are most commonly used by bookmakers based in the UK and Ireland. They display the net return in relation to the amount staked.

Example:

• Bet: 20 units on Aston Villa to draw at home against Chelsea at odds of 4/1
• Return: Stake x (fractional odds + 1) or 20 x (4/1 + 1) = 100
• Profit: Stake x fractional odds or 20 x 4/1 = 80

In this system, odds of 1/1 are usually referred to as “evens” and decimal points are never used. For example, odds of 3.5/1 would be displayed as 7/2 and odds of 2.75/1 would be displayed as 11/4.

Decimal Odds:

Decimal odds are sometimes referred to as European odds, continental odds or digital odds and are used as the standard format on many betting platforms around the world. The odds basically display the fractional odds as a decimal number and give the total return from a single unit stake.

Example:

• Bet: 20 units on Aston Villa to draw at home against Chelsea at odds of 5
• Return: Stake x decimal odds or 20 x 5 = 100
• Profit: Stake x (decimal odds – 1) or 20 x (5 – 1) = 80

Hong Kong Odds

Hong Kong odds display your net return based on a single unit stake. They are perhaps the simplest format as you can just multiply your stake by the odds to calculate your profit.

Example:

• Bet: 20 units on Aston Villa to draw at home against Chelsea at odds of 4
• Return: Stake x (1 + Hong Kong odds) or 20 x (1 + 4) = 100
• Profit: Stake x Hong Kong odds or 20 x 4 = 80

As you can see, Hong Kong odds differ from decimal odds as they do not include the single unit stake.

American Odds

American odds or US Moneyline odds are used by bookmakers throughout the United States of America. They can appear as both positive and negative numbers.

Positive figures are used when the probability is below 50% and the value relates to how much you would win from a 100 unit stake.

Example:

• Bet: 20 units on Aston Villa to draw at home against Chelsea at odds of +400
• Return: Stake x (1 + American odds/100) or 20 x (1 + 400/100) = 100
• Profit: Stake x (American odds/100) or 20 x (400/100) = 80

Negative figures are used when the probability is over 50% and the value relates to the size of stake required to win 100 units.

• Bet: 20 units on Chelsea to win away at Aston Villa at odds of -400
• Return: Stake x (1 + 100/American odds) or 20 x (1 + 100/400) = 25
• Profit: Stake x (100/American odds) or 20 x (100/400) = 5

Indonesian Odds

This moneyline system is used by betting companies throughout Indonesia and uses a similar formula to the American odds system. However, in this case the odds are based on a single unit rather than 100.

Positive figures are used when the probability is below 50% and the value relates to how much you would win from a single unit stake.

Example:

• Bet: 20 units on Aston Villa to draw at home against Chelsea at odds of +4
• Return: Stake x (1 + Indonesian odds) or 20 x (1 + 4) = 100
• Profit: Stake x Indonesian odds or 20 x 4 = 80

Negative figures are used when the probability is over 50% and the value relates to the size of stake required to win a single unit.

• Bet: 20 units on Chelsea to win away at Aston Villa at odds of -4
• Return: Stake x (1 + 1/ Indonesian odds) or 20 x (1 + 1/4) = 25
• Profit: Stake x (1/ Indonesian odds) or 20 x (1/4) = 5

Italian Odds

The Italian odds system simply displays the profit that will be won from a 100 unit stake. Unlike the American and Indonesian moneyline formats, there are no negative numbers in this system.

Example:

• Bet: 20 units on Aston Villa to draw at home against Chelsea at odds of 400
• Return: Stake x (1 + Italian odds/100) or 20 x (1 + 400/100) = 100
• Profit: Stake x (Italian odds/100) or 20 x (400/100) = 80

Percentage Odds

Percentage odds represent the implied probability of the outcome of an event.

Example:

• Bet: 20 units on Aston Villa to draw at home against Chelsea with percentage odds of %20
• Return: Stake x (100/ Percentage odds) or 20 x (100/20) = 100
• Profit: x ((100/ Percentage odds) + 1) or 20 x ((100/20) -1) = 80

The importance of finding better value

By understanding the different odds formats, you can decide which display suits you best when you visit a betting website. Just because you are familiar with one system it does not mean that it is the right one for you. Many punters switch to a different format to allow them to make quicker calculations and easier bet comparisons. This could make all the difference when you are trying to find the best value for a particular bet.

Any strategy that helps you find better value will benefit you in the long-term. Even the smallest advantage in value on each bet can make a huge difference to your potential yield over the course of a year. That’s why most serious punters now use betting exchanges; because unlike the bookmaker’s, there is no profit margin built into the price. Even after a small commission fee, you will nearly always achieve better value by using the exchange markets.

The use of a Betting Exchange is almost always essential if you are looking at using a betting system such as Assured Soccer Profits, or a system that cashes in free bets and promotional offers such as Profit Maximiser.

Betfair (you can sign up here and claim their free bet) is one of the leading online betting exchanges with competitive odds, plenty of liquidity, and has a wide selection of live betting markets providing opportunities to trade in-play.

• All