American odds, also known as moneyline odds, are primarily used by sites that cater to US sports bettors. American odds are probably the easiest odds format to understand, as odds are displayed with plus (+) and minus (-) symbols to indicate the amount one must wager to win $100, or the amount one would win for every $100 staked.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about American odds.
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What Are American Odds?
American odds are simply one way to express odds. A pick ’em is listed as “pk” or “pick” or “pick ’em”, depending on the sportsbook’s preference. There are two basic types: favorites and underdogs.
Favorites come with a ‘–’ symbol attached. The higher the absolute value of the number, the better the chance the bet will win. For example, a -200 favorite has a better chance to win than a -120 favorite. 200 is greater than 120, so this is what we mean by absolute value – you ignore the ‘–’ sign and take just the number when considering this.
Underdogs come with a ‘+’ symbol attached. The higher the number, the larger the underdog. So a +200 underdog has a better chance to win than a +500 underdog.
Check out the betting markets at our highest-rated bookmakers to see how they price up games in American odds.
What Do the Odds Mean?
American odds always use a baseline value of $100. For favorites you are always risking the money to win $100, and with underdogs you risk $100 to win the amount.
- A -135 favorite means you must risk $135 to win $100 from the sportsbook. You either lose $135, win $100, or your wager is a push.
- A +350 underdog means you risk only $100, but you win $350. You either lose $100, win $350, or your wager is a push.
We can also convert American odds into percentages. This is useful because it gives you a break-even percentage that you need to achieve long-term to win when betting certain odds.
The most common odds are -110, so we will use it for our example. The question to ask is “how often will we need to win, when betting at -110 odds, to break even?” The answer is “enough so that you turn $110 into $210 often enough to overcome the juice” but it is expressed in percentages.
So we take our $110 risked, divided by the ultimate $210 payout if our ticket cashes, and come up with .5238 or 52.38%. This means you must win at least 52.38% of your bets at -110 to break even.
American odds are attached to point spreads in most American sports such as the NFL and NBA. Here’s an example from the NFL:
- Atlanta Falcons +3 (-115)
- Carolina Panthers -3 (+110)
American odds give the bookmaker influence over the point spread without changing the key number of 3. As we discussed, odds worse than -110 can hurt your break-even percentage and should be taken into account even when betting spreads. On the other hand, underdog plus odds help your bottom line.
American odds are convenient and fast once you get accustomed to them. Just like any other format, it is all personal preference. It is also easy to convert American odds to fractional or decimal odds, and can easily be done using our online odds converter.