When the United States Supreme Court overturned the 1992 PASPA law in a landmark decision, it opened up all sorts of new betting opportunities for US residents in several states, most notably in New Jersey.

However, long before that, there had always been one place where sports bettors could go to bet on a wide range of sports, Las Vegas. The State of Nevada legalized sports betting back in 1949, and was the only place within the entire United States where one could make a legal bet on any sports match.

Las Vegas still leads the way in the US for sports betting turnover, and Nevada sports books average around $3 billion annually in sports betting revenue. Whether you choose to play at one of the many registered sports betting outlets, or at one of the big casino and resort hotels like the MGM, knowing how the Las Vegas odds work, and how to read them, is crucial to your chances of success.

Understanding How Vegas Odds Actually Work

We’ve all heard the word odds being thrown around in conversation from time to time, even when not used in a betting or gambling context. But what are odds really? The word is used in different contexts to mean different things. For instance, if you were talking about odds from a statistical point of view, you’d be referring to the probability of an event occurring, divided by the probability that the same event would not occur. This is usually represented in a simple formula: odds = p/p(1-p).

While the statistical use of odds may be a bit difficult to get your head around, the use of odds in the Las Vegas odds context, should make a bit more sense and be easier to digest. Las Vegas odds is a lot similar to how we would use the word odds in a more every day way. For instance, the odds of not getting stuck in traffic today could be around 3to1. This is essentially Las Vegas odds.

But what does that mean and how can you use it when playing the odds? The easiest way to understand odds that are expressed as 3-1 or 3:1, is that there are 3 chances to win, and one chance to lose. Another way to put it is as 3in4, meaning that there are 3 chances to win out of a total of 4 chances. When betting on sports, you may also see this expressed as .75 since 3/4 is equal to .75 when expressed as a decimal. If you were talking in statistical odds, you would say that the odds are 3 (odds = .75/(1-.75) = .75/.25 = 3).

But what about other Vegas odds? You may find odds in a given game offered as 3-2, which is equal to 1.5:1 when expressed as in decimal format. However, when it comes to Vegas odds, they are never expressed in the decimal format; you would more likely see that option with offshore betting sites. So, in a nutshell, the odds of 3-2 lets you know that there are 3 chances of winning, and 2 chance so of losing. In other words, Vegas odds of 3-2 can also be read as a chance of 3 in 5, or 3 chances to win out of a total of 5 chances. It is quite straightforward when you get the hang of it.

Here’s a short table that clearly shows how Vegas odds work when related to chance, statistical odds and probability:

Vegas OddsChanceStatistical OddsProbability
9-19in109.0000    0.9000
8.0000    0.8889
7-17in87.0000    0.8750
6-16in76.0000    0.8571
5-15in65.0000    0.8333

How to Bet on Different Sports Using Vegas Odds

Now that you have a better understanding of how Vegas odds work, you can begin to play the odds like a pro.

Firstly, you’ll need a site where you can find odds for your choice of game, whether that be NFL, NBA, college sports, or whatever it may be that you feel like betting on. Vegasodds.com, for example, have odds for most of the major US sports that you can bet on, and they even include guides and tips for each of the individual sports.

Understanding Betting Options and Types

All sports come with their own type of betting options and types. The main ones are Moneyline, Point Spread, and Totals. For the more advanced bettors looking to step up their wagering game, sportsbooks also offer more complex betting types, such as Parlays, Teasers, Props, and Futures. It’s important that you understand what each of these mean for the sport that you wish to bet on, because they are not always the same across the different sports.

For example, NBA and NFL offer such similar wager options that at first glance, most amateur bettors would assume they’re identical and therefore employ the same betting strategy. This is a big mistake and can easily get you burned.

Know Your Sport

Just as important as knowing the different types of wagers is knowing the teams and players of the sport you wish to bet on. Once again, using the NBA and NFL as examples, these two sports have very different game schedules. While the NFL teams play roughly once a week, NBA teams frequently plays 3-4 games per week.

So, how does this affect your betting? Well, since the games are farther apart for the NFL, this means you have more time to do all your research on the matchups, study the players’ recent performance and injuries. NBA, on the other hand, only gives bettors 1-2 days to carry out the same analysis, which typically results in more frequent impulsive bets.

In the end, it comes down to gathering as much information as possible in order to improve your chances of winning any sports bet.

Vegas odds can be applied to most sports and you will find plenty to choose from, giving you a diverse range of betting options, as well as an exciting number of high intensity sports to choose from.