American Odds

The fixed odds system used by bookmakers in the United States are called American odds, (or sometimes moneyline odds) and differ from other fixed odds systems such as fractional odds and decimal odds in that the system employs whole numbers that can be expressed as either a negative or a positive.

American odds are used to give a price on the outcome of a market such as the winner of a specific game, or the winner of a market with multiple contestants in which one individual will emerge as the winner, such as the highest run scorer at the one day international cricket World Cup.

The main distinguishing features of American odds are the use of negative numbers, and that they revolve around a unit of 100 (as opposed to an assumed stake of one in decimal odds, and an unspecified stake in fractional odds).

In the American odds system, any prices listed as a positive number indicates the amount that will be won against a stake of 100. So odds of 500 indicate that the winnings will be €500 against €100 stake, and in addition the stake itself will be returned.

To calculate the winnings against a lower stake, the listed odds must be divided by the same amount that the stake is a fraction 100. For example, if a stake of €25 is placed, this is one-quarter of the theoretical €100 stake. The listed odds of 500 are then divided by a quarter, to give potential winnings of €125.

For a stake higher than 100, the listed odds must be multiplied by the same amount that the actual stake is greater than 100. For example, against a stake of €150 the odds must be multiplied by 1.5. For odds of 500, therefore, the actual winnings against the €150 stake would be €750 (500 x 1.5).

If the price is a negative number, however, then it is showing the amount that must be staked in order to win €100. So a price of -800 indicates that €800 would have to be placed in order to win €100, on top of which the original stake would also be paid out.

To calculate the stake required to win a smaller amount than €100, the same process as that outlined above for positive numbers is required. To win €25 (one quarter of €100) the listed price is also divided by one quarter, and the resulting figure indicates the amount that needs to be staked – in this case €200 on odds of -800. Alternatively, to work out how much we need to stake in order to secure a win €200 we simply double the odds, thus requiring a stake of €1600.

In American odds an evens price, where the win is exactly the same as the amount staked, can be expressed as either a negative or positive number -100 or 100. Both conventions are used by bookmakers in the United States.

American odds can seem a little cumbersome at first, particularly to someone more familiar with decimal odds, but they are workable and the calculations required are not overly complex. They very clearly indicate the relative favourite in a given market – any odds in negative territory and it’s pretty clear that that option is the presumed winner, but if two teams in a match are listed at 150 and 175, then we can see straight away its a tight game.

American Odds Summary

Moneyline odds are often referred to as American odds. Moneyline refers to odds on the straight-up outcome of a game with no consideration to a point spread.

Positive figures: If the figure quoted is positive, the odds are quoting how much money will be won on a $100 wager (this is done if the odds are better than even). Fractional odds of 4/1 would be quoted as +400, while fractional odds of 1/4 cannot be quoted as a positive figure.

Negative figures: If the figure quoted is negative, then the moneyline odds are quoting how much money must be wagered to win $100 (this is done if the odds are worse than even). Fractional odds of 1/4 would be quoted as -400, while fractional odds of 4/1 cannot be quoted as a negative figure.

Even odds: Even odds are quoted as +100 or -100. Some bookmakers display the negative symbol while others do not.