How Do ‘Vegas’ Odds Work?

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Kansas City Chiefs (-250), Las Vegas Golden Knights (-110), Toronto Raptors (+125) – the chances are that you’ve come across these sorts of options in your sports betting journey. If you don’t know what these numbers mean, you’re not the only one.

A large number of betting newbies have no idea what the figures are representing. If you want to learn, you’re at the right place. We’re now going to show you how Vegas odds work. We will also explain the process of making the odds. We’re even going to show you how to use this knowledge to your advantage.

What Are Vegas Odds?

Vegas odds a.k.a. American-style odds are the ones you will see in the land-based sportsbooks across Nevada. Caesars, Wynn, Golden Nugget – all these bookies are using the Vegas odds format.

The trouble is that they may seem strange to the inexperienced eye. However, everything becomes clear once you learn more about them. So, how do Vegas odds work?

These odds come in the form of three-digit numbers, which can either be positive or negative. If the number is negative, it means that the team is the favorite. If it’s a positive number, it’s the opposite. If the number on each potential outcome is -110 (or sometimes -105), it means that each team has an equal chance of winning.

The big question is how can you use these odds to figure out how much money you’re going to cash in if your bet wins? That’s the question we’re going to answer next.

How You Calculate Vegas Odds?

You calculate your potential win based on whether the odds come as a positive or a negative number. If the odds are positive, e.g., +150, it practically means that this is how much you can profit if you bet $100.

Let’s say you want to bet Justin Gaethje at Vegas odds of +150. If you put, $100, you’re going to make a net profit of $150 if he wins. But, what if you’d like to bet a different amount?

In that case, you need to use the following formula:

Vegas Odds/100 x Your Stake

So, let’s say you wish to put $70 on Gaethje, your potential net profit is calculated by dividing his odds by 100, then multiplying the number with 70. 

Use your calculator and you will see that 150/100 x 70 equals 105. That is how much you will make if Gaethje wins. Note that $105 is your net profit, while you’ll also get your $70 stake back. So, your total win would be $175 on a $70 bet.

An important thing to remember is that the aforementioned formula only works if odds are displayed as positive numbers. If the number is negative (e.g., -150), you need to go with a different formula. In that case, this is what you got to use:

Your Stake/Vegas Odds x 100

This is because, with Vegas odds, the negative number represents the amount of money you need to bet in order to win $100. So, if the odds are -150, you will have to bet $150 to get a net profit of $100.

Is There a Simpler Alternative?

Vegas odds are traditionally used in land-based sportsbooks across Nevada. It’s been like that for decades, and when online sports betting became legal in other US states, most operators decided to embrace this format.

The same was the case with offshore sportsbooks that cater to American customers, with one important difference – BetOnline.ag, MyBookie.ag, SportsBetting.ag, and many other bookies let the players decide on the odds format.

So, if you find Vegas odds too complicated, you can always use decimal odds in offshore sportsbooks. How they work is that your stake is multiplied by the odds. The result you get is your gross profit (your net profit + your stake). For example, if the odds on Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 1.65 and you wish to bet $90, your potential win is $148.5.

Who Sets the Odds in Vegas?

When speaking about Vegas odds, there’s another question that pops out – who decides them? Some sportsbooks employ teams of oddsmakers to come up with the odds, while some hire independent companies to do the work for them.

In both cases, the goal is to set the odds in such a way that they attract equal action on both outcomes. This way, the sportsbook is going to make profits regardless of the outcome. As a result, the Vegas odds on the favorite are always negative numbers, while underdogs get positive numbers.

Oddsmakers take into account various factors to decide who’s the favorite/underdog. What we’re talking about are power rankings, game locations, the form of the teams, and so on. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Vegas odds equal the true probability.

Using the Odds Knowledge to Your Benefit

The thing about odds is that they change all the time. For example, there might be some big news coming from a team’s roster, such as an injury of a key player. You can be sure that the sportsbooks will adjust the odds in that case in order to protect themselves.

Still, the #1 reason why odds change lies in the behavior of the bettors. If the players suddenly start betting on one outcome, the sportsbook will have to react by adjusting the odds. They will move the odds on the outcome in question (e.g., from -128 to -175), while moving the odds against the opposite outcome (e.g., from +108 to +155).

This way, they are making sure they aren’t going to have to pay out too much money if the favorite wins. At the same time, they are encouraging bettors to put their money on the underdog with the odds more lucrative than earlier.

How can you use this knowledge to your benefit? You can go on an odds hunt. If you compare all the odds available, you will be able to find the best value for your bets. It may be at a Vegas-based sportsbook or it could be at an offshore website, you’ll find out only after you’ve compared them!


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