Sportsbetting 101: How Does Decimal Pricing Work?

Sports Betting 101 Aug 02, 2022

Sportsbetting is all about good information, and the decimal format provides the best possible information to bettors.

Here's why decimal pricing in sportsbetting makes a lot more sense and provides superior information than other alternatives in the way odds are posted.

Don't worry.  This isn't one of those confusing math articles.

We'll keep the math simple, so it's easy to understand.

You may have noticed that most of the articles here at POINTSPREADS.CA refer to the odds expressed in a decimal format.  SPREADS.CA also lists the odds this way, although bettors do have the option of switching the main feature to show other ways of revealing the odds.

The reason why the decimal format is used is simple:  It makes more a lot more sense and it also provides more information to the bettor.  In fact, the decimal format is superior, as this article will demonstrate.

First, let's examine the three most popular formats for odds on the world's sporting events.  They are decimal, fractional, and American.

Decimal pricing is mainly used in Europe.  It's also widely used throughout Canada.  Fractional odds aren't as popular.  American odds is obviously the dominant odds format used in the United States.  Since many online sportsbooks are based in Central America and the Caribbean and cater mostly to American customers, those sportsbooks often use the American format.

Here's a sample:

What do these numbers mean?

Okay, this is simple.  See the numbers in the graphic above.

DECIMAL:  The number 2.10 means the bettor receives 2.10 back on a winning ticket (expressed in terms of a 1.00-unit bet).  This is very easy to understand since the decimal number always shows the exact return on any wager.

FRACTIONAL:  The number 11/10 means the bettor will post 11 units to win back 10.  Fractional betting is old-style and not used much anymore.

AMERICAN: The number 110 (actually, it should likely be -110) means that's the lay price to win a base unit to 100.  All the American odds prices are listed with a +/- (unless it's an even money bet).  So, if the odds are +110, that means a 100 wager returns 110 in profit.

Note:  The chart above is slightly confusing since 2.10 is NOT the same as 11/10 or -110.  Decimal odds represent the total return for every $1 wagered, including the money you risked. An American moneyline at -110 is 1.91 in decimal odds. Why? Because for every $1 you're betting, you're getting 91 cents back, plus the original dollar.

How to read decimal odds

See the odds on a CFL game below which are listed at SPREADS.CA.  Notice that all three wagering possibilities include a decimal number.

"Winner Full Time" means we're betting on the moneyline for the game.  In other words, just pick the winning team.  So, what do those numbers next to each team mean?  

Answer: A 1.00 wager on the Montreal Alouettes will return 3.15 (that comes out to 2.15 in profit, since 1.00 was initially invested).  A 1.00 wager on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will return 1.39 (that comes out to .39 cents in profit since 1.00 was originally invested.      

The same principle applies to "Spread Full Time" and "Over/Under Full Time." Betting either way returns 1.90 (or .90 cents in profit).

Unlike the fractional and American formats, these return figures require no additional guesswork.  For instance, it's impossible to know your exact return when wagering using the American format (unless you know the pricing from experience or are a math guru).  

With decimal pricing, the bettor always knows how much money will be either won or lost.

Why is decimal pricing superior?

Quick -— do a calculation on how much money you win on a winning ticket when you bet the favourite at -155.  Use the example of betting a hypothetical $100.  

It requires a calculator or pen and paper.  Oh, and the correct answer is — $64.52.

See, that's the trouble with the American odds format.  It's convenient for betting underdogs.  If you have a dog with odds listed at +155, you know that you're getting back $155 in profit on a winning ticket.  However, the disadvantage of not knowing the payout on the favourites is obvious.

Oh, and when it comes to fractional odds, forget it.  The correct answer on calculating a winning ticket on the favourite priced at -155 is 20/31.  That's way too confusing.

We like the decimal format because no matter what the odds show, you always know – to the penny – how much your winning ticket will pay.

Sportsbetting is all about good information, and the decimal format provides the best possible information to bettors.