Betting encyclopedia: Betting Markets, Odds Formats, and Handicaps

Josip Brajkovic
Josip Brajkovic
Published: 22.9.2023.

The two main markets you will find in betting are the Winner market, which in Europe is also commonly offered as 1x2 since it straightforwardly provides the odds for each possible outcome of the match, and the Handicap market, which in the US is also known as the Spread market. Handicaps are meant to make an uneven contest more attractive by adding points to one side or the other.

Money Line, Fixed odds and Handicap

Fixed odds

The Winner market was commonly referred to as the Fixed market in the UK. This name originated from the past when betting prices were published in newspapers, and once they were set, there was no opportunity to adjust them. Therefore, they were called fixed prices or 1x2. In sports such as tennis or snooker, the market would typically offer just two outcomes (1 and 2) since there was no possibility of a draw, with a few exceptions in snooker.


The Money Line is typically offered in situations where there is little possibility of a tied result, making it a straightforward either/or bet. In the US market, most Money Lines are typically associated with the full-time outcome, including any overtimes, to eliminate the possibility of a tie result. However, there may be exceptions, and the outcome could depend on the ruleset of the bookmaker, with some bets being lost or refunded in the case of a tie.


If one team is a huge favorite and the other a significant underdog, the fixed odds offered may not be as attractive to customers. For instance, consider a scenario where there's a significant favorite with an 80% probability of winning the match, such as Real Madrid playing at home against Levante. In this case, the realistic odds for Real to win might be 1.25. However, when accounting for the bookmaker's margin (let's assume an 8% margin on the favorite for this example), the adjusted price for Real to win would be approximately 1.13. We will have a separate article about odds calculations and devaluation of prices from the bookmakers side.

So, a price of 1.13 may not be very attractive for betting on Real Madrid to win, right? However, if you artificially add a couple of goals to Levante, let's say a +2 handicap for Levante, or deduct two goals (-2) from Real Madrid's expected margin, you would obtain a more enticing price for betting on Real Madrid to win. In this case, you could get odds of around 1.9, indicating that Real Madrid would need to win by a margin of 3 or more goals for the bet to be successful.

Asian handicap

Asian Handicaps, in contrast to European or American Lines, offer not only full (-1.0) or half (-0.5) handicaps but also quarter handicaps like -1.25, -1.75, and so on. To fully win a quarter handicap, you would need the favored team to outscore their opponent by at least 0.5 goals more than the handicap. For example, if a -1.25 handicap is set on Real Madrid, you would require Real Madrid to win by a margin of 2 or more goals to win the bet. If they win by only 1 goal, half of the bet would be refunded, and the other half would be lost. Similarly, if you placed a -1.75 bet, and Real Madrid won by a 2-goal margin, half of the bet would be won, and half would be refunded. To fully win this bet, you would need Real Madrid to win by a margin of 3 or more goals, as there is no possibility for them to win by 2.25 or 2.5 goals.

Check our Asian Handicap sheet:

Asian Handicap sheet

Fractional, decimal and US odds display

You might have noticed that when switching between tabs on various bookmaker websites, the odds are displayed differently from one site to another. Additionally, you can typically change the odds display format to your preference, choosing between decimal, fractional, or US odds.


Used commonly in continental Europe, but also now increasingly in the UK, show the odds and potential winning you will get for a stake of 1 unit, including the stake. So, if the odds of 3.5 are correctly predicted, and your stake was 1, you will have a profit of 2.5, resulting in a total return of 3.5, including your initial stake. Essentially, the easiest way to calculate your winnings, especially when dealing with parlays, is to simply multiply the odds by your stake to determine your potential winnings.


In the UK very popular are fractional odds, but as we mentioned more and more the decimals are being used. Fractional odds are displayed like 5/2. The 5 is the potential winning, while the 2 is your stake. So it means for 2 units wagered your potential profit is 5, which makes the full return of 7. So this translates to the price of 3.5 in decimals. The thing is that fractions are standardized, and won’t be displayed like 3.5/1, but rather 5/2 with round numbers.

Calculator fractional to decimal:
Add 1 to the fractional representation e.g. a fractional value of 5/2 = (5/2) + 1 = 3.5.

US odds

The US odds are basically the same as decimals or fractions, where it gives you straight forward information about how much you risk or take based on a 100 unit stake. The money lines can be either positive or negative and it would look like this:


A -161 would mean that you need to stake 161 units in order to win 100, which equals to a decimal price of 1.62. And +120 means that a wagered 100 units can bring you a profit of 120 units, which equals to a price of 2.2 in decimals.

Calculator american to decimal:

Positive odds - 1 plus (the american odds divided by 100) e.g. american odds of 120 = 1 + (120/100) = 2.2.

Negative odds - 1 minus (100 divided by the american odds) e.g. american odds of -161 = 1 - (100/161) = 1.62.


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