Understanding Football Odds: A Beginner’s Guide to Successful Betting

Football betting is a popular pastime that adds excitement to the sport. However, for beginners, understanding betting odds can be a daunting task. This guide aims to demystify football betting odds, covering the different types—fractional, decimal, and moneyline—and providing examples to help you read and use them effectively.

What Are Betting Odds?

Betting odds represent the probability of an event happening and determine how much you can win if your bet is successful. They are a crucial part of betting, helping you understand the potential return on your investment.

Types of Betting Odds

There are three main types of betting odds: fractional, decimal, and moneyline. Each format is used in different regions and has its own way of representing the probability and potential payouts.

Fractional Odds

Fractional odds, commonly used in the UK and Ireland, are expressed as a fraction (e.g., 5/1 or 7/2). The number on the left (numerator) represents the potential profit, while the number on the right (denominator) represents the stake.


  • Odds of 5/1 mean you can win $5 for every $1 you bet.

  • If you bet $10 at 5/1 odds and win, your total payout would be $60 ($50 profit + $10 stake).

Decimal Odds

Decimal odds are popular in Europe, Australia, and Canada. They are expressed as a decimal number (e.g., 2.50 or 3.00), which represents the total payout, including the original stake.


  • Odds of 2.50 mean you will receive $2.50 for every $1 you bet.

  • If you bet $10 at 2.50 odds and win, your total payout would be $25 ($15 profit + $10 stake).

Moneyline Odds

Moneyline odds, also known as American odds, are used primarily in the United States. They can be positive (+) or negative (-).

  • Positive moneyline odds indicate how much profit you will make on a $100 bet.

  • Negative moneyline odds indicate how much you need to bet to make a $100 profit.


  • Odds of +300 mean you will win $300 for every $100 you bet.

  • Odds of -150 mean you need to bet $150 to win $100.

How to Read Betting Odds

Converting Odds to Implied Probability

Understanding the implied probability behind betting odds can help you gauge the likelihood of an event happening. Here’s how to convert each type of odds into implied probability:

Fractional Odds: Implied Probability=DenominatorNumerator+Denominator×100Implied Probability=Numerator+DenominatorDenominator×100


  • For odds of 5/1, the implied probability is 15+1×100=16.67%5+11×100=16.67%.

Decimal Odds: Implied Probability=1Decimal Odds×100Implied Probability=Decimal Odds1×100


  • For odds of 2.50, the implied probability is 12.50×100=40%2.501×100=40%.

Moneyline Odds:

  • For positive odds: Implied Probability=100Positive Odds+100×100Implied Probability=Positive Odds+100100×100

  • For negative odds: Implied Probability=Negative OddsNegative Odds+100×100Implied Probability=Negative Odds+100Negative Odds×100


  • For odds of +300, the implied probability is 100300+100×100=25%300+100100×100=25%.

  • For odds of -150, the implied probability is 150150+100×100=60%150+100150×100=60%.

Practical Examples of Betting on Football

To bet on football successfully, it’s important to understand how to apply these odds in real-world scenarios. Let’s look at a few examples.

Example 1: Premier League Match

Imagine a Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United. The odds might be presented as follows:

  • Liverpool to win: 2/1 (fractional), 3.00 (decimal), +200 (moneyline)

  • Manchester United to win: 3/2 (fractional), 2.50 (decimal), +150 (moneyline)

  • Draw: 5/2 (fractional), 3.50 (decimal), +250 (moneyline)

If you bet $20 on Liverpool to win at 2/1 odds and they win, your payout would be $60 ($40 profit + $20 stake). Similarly, betting $20 on a draw at 3.50 decimal odds would yield a payout of $70 ($50 profit + $20 stake).

Example 2: Champions League Match

Consider a Champions League match between Barcelona and Bayern Munich with the following odds:

  • Barcelona to win: 2.20 (decimal), 6/5 (fractional), +120 (moneyline)

  • Bayern Munich to win: 1.75 (decimal), 3/4 (fractional), -133 (moneyline)

  • Draw: 3.30 (decimal), 23/10 (fractional), +230 (moneyline)

If you bet $50 on Bayern Munich at 1.75 odds and they win, your total payout would be $87.50 ($37.50 profit + $50 stake). Betting $50 on a draw at +230 moneyline odds would result in a payout of $165 ($115 profit + $50 stake).

In both examples, the potential return varies based on the type of odds and the amount wagered. Understanding these differences helps you make more informed decisions when you bet on football.

Tips for Beginners

Start Small and Learn

As a beginner, start with small bets to get a feel for how betting works. This approach minimizes your risk while you learn.

Research Teams and Players

Knowledge is power. Researching teams, players, and their current form can provide valuable insights and improve your betting decisions.

Compare Odds

Different bookmakers offer varying odds for the same event. Compare odds across multiple platforms to find the best value for your bets.

Use Betting Tools

Many online betting sites offer tools and calculators to help you understand potential payouts and implied probabilities. Utilize these resources to make informed bets.

Manage Your Bankroll

Set a budget for your betting activities and stick to it. Avoid chasing losses and bet only what you can afford to lose.


Understanding football betting odds is fundamental to becoming a successful bettor. By grasping the different types of odds—fractional, decimal, and moneyline—and knowing how to read and apply them, you can make more informed decisions and improve your chances of winning. Remember to start small, do your research, and always bet responsibly. With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to navigating the exciting world of football betting.

Story originally appeared on Mountain West Wire