Betting Odds Explained – How to Read the Betting Odds?

In this betting odds guide we will be looking at just exactly what they are, what they represent, and how they can be used. We will explain the different kinds of formats and also introduce our odds calculator to better help you understand the whole betting process.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about betting odds.

What are Betting Odds?

Bookmakers use betting odds as a way of representing how likely an event will happen.

It shows the probability in a simple way that everyone can understand. Low odds mean something is more likely to happen. Higher odds suggest the event is less likely to happen.

Betting Odds

How to Read Betting Odds?

This is one of the first things that people think that they are going to have a problem with when they start online betting. But once you understand how to read betting odds it is all very straightforward.

There are a few different ways to show odds – and we will go into the formats in a moment. But the main thing to remember when reading odds is that low odds will have lower potential winning returns, as the event is more likely to happen.

Higher odds, on the other hand, mean that it is thought that the event is less likely to happen, resulting in higher potential winnings.

Best Betting Odds for June, 2023 in Zambia

1 x 2
7:00 pm June 10, 2023
Manchester City
1.45 4.50 7.00
Bets Selected: 0
Best Combined Odds: 0.00
Bet amount
BET AT bet365
Odds are subject to change. Last updated June 8, 2023 9:36 pm.

Types of Odds

What might put some people off online sports betting is that different bookmakers and sites may present their odds in different ways. Each format is the same value – just presented in a different way.

We are going to go through the main formats here and explain how to read them. Although it will help to recognise odds in different formats, you will probably find that you prefer one and will use those almost exclusively.

Most sports betting sites allow you to change the settings if you wish to see the odds in a different format than the default setting.


This is seen as a more traditional way of presenting odds. As the name suggests, the odds appear as fractions. Here is an example:

  • Arsenal to win 4/1
  • The Draw 2/1
  • Manchester City 1/2

As you can see, the longer odds are for Arsenal to win, so you can instantly tell that this is thought to be less likely to happen. Manchester City’s odds are shorter, meaning that the bookmaker believes that City winning is more likely.

City is what is called odds on to win – as the first number is smaller than the second. This means that the winnings would be less that the stake (although you get the stake back as well).

If you were to bet 100 ZMW on Arsenal, and the bet was successful, you would receive 500 ZMW back. That’s 4 x 100 ZMW = 400 ZMW + the original 100 ZMW stake.

A bet on the draw would therefore bring in 300 ZMW, while a winning bet on Manchester City would give you 50 ZMW + the original 100 ZMW stake.


This format is getting more popular around the world now and is probably the one you are more likely to see. It is thought to be simpler than the fractional version.

But, remember, the odds are always the same, no matter what format you use. You will not gain any advantage by choosing one format over another.

Let’s take a look at the same example as before. The exact same odds in decimal form would look like this:

  • Arsenal to win 5.00
  • The Draw 3.00
  • Manchester City 1.50

As you can see, the decimal odds factor in the stake and show you what you receive for a winning bet per unit. If you were making the same 100 ZMW bet you would receive 500 ZMW for an Arsenal win, 300 ZMW for a draw, and 150 ZMW for a Manchester City victory.


Since the US Supreme Court effectively made sports betting legal in America in 2018, there has been a huge upturn in the number of people betting in the country. They tend to use their own format which is sometimes called American, or Moneyline.

You may use an online sports betting site that presents its odds in this format, so it is good to know what it means. Again, you can always change the format in the site’s settings – and the value is exactly the same as decimal and fractional.

With American – or Moneyline – the same odds would look like this.

  • Arsenal to win +400
  • The Draw +200
  • Manchester City -200

The rule of thumb for American odds is that if there is a + in front of the number, that team or player is the underdog. The – means that that team or player is the favourite.

With + bets, the number is the amount you would receive in winnings for placing a $100 bet. A – this means that you would need to place that amount for your bet to bring in $100 winnings.

Remember, those odds are exactly the same as the ones shown in decimal and fractional form. A 100 ZMW bet on Arsenal will get you 500 ZMW, a draw would be 300 ZMW, and a Manchester City win at -200 will get you 150 ZMW.


Although American, fractional and decimal are the three main odds formats you will see on sports betting sites, you may also notice the prices shown in percentage form on rare occasions.

This refers to the implied probability of an event happening. Using the same example as before, the percentage odds would look like this:

  • Arsenal to win 20%
  • The Draw is 33.3%
  • Manchester City 66.7%

This is the only format of odds where the higher number means a lower potential winning return. As we said, you are unlikely to see this odds format on sports betting sites as they usually concentrate on fractional or decimal – or American in the US.

Odds Calculator

If the odds are fairly simple, as above, it is pretty easy to work out how much you may be able to win. But sometimes the odds are far more complex. That’s why many bookmakers – and sites like ours – offer an odds calculator for their users.

With an odds calculator, you just need to enter the odds of your selection and the stake you have decided on.

The odds calculator then works out what the potential winning returns would be. It is just a helpful tool that takes the difficulty out of betting.

Here is our odds calculator.

Odds/Probability Calculator

Odds to probability
Probability to odds

Betting Odds FAQs

How do odds work in football betting?

Betting odds work for football in the same way as they do for every other sport. An event is given a probability of actually happening and that is presented in an odds format that shows you the options. Whatever the format, the lower the odds means that is more likely to happen and the returns will be smaller than if the odds were higher.

How do I calculate betting odds?

We have provided an odds calculator in this article to help you easily work out your betting odds. Most betting sites also show the potential winning returns on the betslip when you make your selection and decide on a stake – before you confirm the wager.

How do I convert odds?

Converting odds can be quite complex depending on the odds involved. The best and most reliable way of converting odds is to find an odds converter online and enter one format. It will then be automatically converted into the other formats that you may be more familiar with.

Which bookmaker offers the best betting odds?

There is a wide range of bookmakers available for Zambian customers and no one betting firm is better than all of the others. You should look around to get the best odds for the bet you are about to make. But we should say that 1xBet has consistently good odds across the betting markets and is always worth taking a look at.