How To Read Betting Lines

Gambler Saloon
November 2, 2018
746 Views

Odds and betting lines are always a little confusing to those who aren’t part of the betting circle. If you’re looking to start betting, learning what betting lines are is Betting 101, the first stop before you can start exploring markets and betting strategies. If that’s you, and you’re ready to make some profit on the likes of soccer and NFL betting then you’ve come to the right place. This post will teach you how to read betting lines!

At Gambler Saloon we look after our new bettors, giving them all they need to know from welcome bonuses to the best places to bet, and of course tons of information on the ins and outs of the industry.

Below you’ll find everything you need to know about betting lines including what they are, how they work and where to find the best odds.

What Are Betting Lines?

Betting Lines are essentially the odds being displayed for a particular game, event or outcome in betting.

What they do is identify the probability of an outcome and how much you’ll win should you bet on it.

Betting Lines are created on a variety of factors, with the bookmaker taking into account the teams/runners/riders/players potentially competing against each other as well as where the money is going. This allows the bookmaker to create a set of odds for you then to play.

Betting Lines will be displayed in a number of different ways dependent on where you are in the world. So, let’s see how to read betting lines!

Different Ways Of Displaying Odds

The different way of displaying odds is very much based on where you are in the world and which bookmaker you’re playing with. A smart bettor should know how to read betting lines in different formats.

Below you’ll find three of the most common form of betting lines explained…

USA Odds


The way of displaying betting lines in the USA is vastly different to everywhere else in the world with odds using +\- in front of figures to highlight probabilities.

You’ll see numbers such as -100 or +200, is is a bookmaker using the US odds format.

A negative number represents the favorite outcome of the event. When a negative the number is the figure you have to bet in order to win $100.

So in this case you’d need to bet $100 to win $100. If you were to see -150, you’d need to bet $150 to receive $100 back, plus stake of course.

If the number is positive, so +200 for example, this represents the winnings you’d receive should you bet $100.

So if you were to back a horse at +200, if you were to bet $100 you’d receive your stake back and an additional $200 winnings. Scaling this down, if you were to back $10, you’d have winnings of $20 plus stake.

Decimal Odds

Decimal odds are also commonly found and operate in a different way to USA betting lines.

They generally are among the easiest to understand and will look a little like this on a betting site…

  • LA Galaxy – 2.40
  • Draw – 2.80
  • DC United – 3.61

From the decimal betting lines above, the lower number represents the favorite, with higher numbers the outside bet.

Decimals are the easiest to work out payouts from, with punters simply having to multiplier the decimal odds by the wager they wish to make to figure out return.

For example, if you wanted to place $10 on LA Galaxy to win, you would have to use the following equation to see potential return…

10 x 2.40 = 24

Therefore, in this case you would win $24 back from a $10 bet.

Fraction Odds

Fraction betting lines are commonly found in the UK across most sports from soccer and horse racing to tennis and ice hockey.

These are the odds which can be most confusing to punters as they’re faced with a series of numbers like 2/1, 16/3, and 3/ 5.

This type of odds can be found in the US, particularly when it comes to horse racing meets, so they are important to understand.

How fractional odds work is by displaying the likelihood of how many times the outcome would fail and how many it would succeed.

For example, let’s take the order below…

  • Barcelona – 11/20
  • Draw – 10/3
  • Inter Milan – 24/5

This is a Champions League soccer fixture between Barcelona and Inter Milan. The number of times the outcome is likely to fail is the figure to the left of the slash, with the number of times the outcome will win being on the right.

This means for every 31 times Barcelona would play Inter Milan, they will win 20 times.

You can calculate the probability of winning with this bet simply by taking the right hand figure and dividing it by the total across the odds. So in Barcelona’s case you’d divide 20 by 31, giving you a 65% chance of winning.

In the case of Inter Milan you’d divide 5 by 29, with the odds offering you a 17% chance of a win.

Figuring out your winnings can be a little more complex, but it ultimately works out by using the following formula…

Winnings = Wager x (Numerator/Denominator)

So, let’s say you wanted to place $10 on Barcelona, you’d use this equation…

10 x (11/20) = 5.5

This would give you a return of $5.50 along with your stake.

Where To Find The Best Betting Lines

At this point, you should know how to read betting lines.

Of course, you’re going to want to put all this knowledge into practice now. Most bookmakers will allow you to switch between the varying types of betting lines, so you’ll always get your preference.

Finding the best odds is also relatively simple, particularly if you stick with us at Gambler Saloon. We always ensure we seek out the bookmakers with the best odds across all sports including the NFL, NBA, Soccer and more, not only delivering you too value but also fantastic offers to go with them.

Head to our Bookmakers Page for all our favorite bookies and put your learnings into practice today!

Author Gambler Saloon