American odds, also known as Money line odds and Vegas odds, as the name suggests will most commonly be found in North America. This format of odds is very confusing when first seen, but once explain is really rather simple. The main problem with this type of odds is that it was designed primarily for single bets and is extremely hard to work with when placing accumulator bets and combination multiples. This is mainly because the odds come in two different formats, positive and negative.
The odds being positive or negative lets the punter know if the betting odds is higher or lower than evens, odds on or odds against, or in layman’s terms weather the bet will return more money or less money than was staked. Positive odds start at 100 and negative odds are always less than -100 (never just -100).
This form of representing the probability of your chosen selection winning is based around a $100 bet. For the positive odds the number indicates the returns you’ll get if you placed a $100 bet; for example if the odds were +185 (very often this is written without the + sign) you will get winnings of $185 if you win. For negative odds the number indicates what you need to bet in order to win $100, for example if the odds were -150 you will need to bet $150 to win $100. And now you can see where the difficulty will come in working out accumulators, if all odds are positive you can simply multiple the odds together to see what you can possibly win, but trouble arises when you throw a couple of negative odds into the mix.
Converting American odds calculations
When converting American odds to any other format, the best method is to first convert to decimal odds. From there you can then easily move on to the odds that you are most comfortable with – see our decimal odds section for all you need.
So how do you convert American odds to decimal? As mentioned earlier, there are two types of odds format, one in the positive and one in the negative. This conversion will therefore need two different formulas.
Converting American odds examples
You have already seen a basic example of how American odds, with bets to a $100. But rarely is it that simple. Firstly let’s look at a positive odds example and then follow up with a negative odds example. A bet of $60 has been place on a horse at odds of 320.
To work out your pay-out you multiple your stake by the odds divided by 100.
60 x (320/100) = 192
So your profit is $192, but you also get your stake back. Meaning total returns $252
Now for the negative example, the horse is -650 and you’ve put a bet of $70 on it. Now for negative odds you must divide minus one hundred by the odds. Then multiply the result by the stake.
(-100/-650) x 70 = 10.5
Again the $10.50 is just the profit; you’ll also get your stake back. So a total return of $80.50