How Do Betting Odds Work?

If you’re new to the world of online betting, there is still probably a good chance that you’ve heard of odds before.  Odds are a bookmaker’s way of measuring certainty, or lack of certainty, when it comes to various outcomes.  You may find odds listed for sporting events, changes in world politics, or even reality TV shows.  Ultimately, odds are there to help you understand what the bookmaker feels are likely and unlikely outcomes.

Before you start really getting into betting, no matter the markets you choose, it is always a good idea to understand a little bit about probability.  In this short guide, we’re going to look at how odds work, and why they are so important.

Calculating Probability with Betting Odds

online sports betting odds

Odds help us to understand how likely certain scenarios are when it comes to different events.  For example, we can read betting odds to determine whether or not a football team playing at home can expect to win their next match.  Digging a little deeper, there will even be odds to show us how likely it is that they will score a certain amount.

It’s all about probability.  Bookmakers set different odds based on their own expertise and a betting exchange.  Calculating probability is all about doing your homework!  For example, if Manchester United was to draw Dover Athletic in the FA Cup, United would be the most likely winner. Find out more about football bets and tips if you’re interested in having a bet.

This is because they have played in top-flight football for over 20 years and have a stronger team than Athletic, who are a non-league side.  However, Athletic do perform well in their league, which is why some punters would choose to bet on their odds, even if they are longer.

This would be called an outside bet.  The shorter the odds, the more likely a bookmaker thinks a scenario is going to happen.  Therefore, they will pay less money against your bet.  The longer the odds, the less likely you’ll get money back.

Many bookmakers list their odds in either fraction or decimal format.  These can be used to help us identify where a bookie is likely to be leaning.

Fractional Vs Decimal Odds Explained

There are some key differences between fractional and decimal odds.  Let’s take a look at them.

  • Fractional odds use a ‘2/1′ format. The left-hand number changes more than the right.  The left-hand number is used to multiply the right-hand number to show how much you could win.  For example, ‘3/1’ shows that for every £1.00 you bet, you will win £3.00 back.
  • Other fractional odds, such as those showing ‘3/2’, are also easy to understand. Here, you’ll get £3.00 back for every £2.00 you spend.
  • Decimal odds are a little bit different. Here, you will simply need to multiply the stake you bet by the odds available.  For example, with decimal odds of 5.00, you’ll get £5 back from a £1.00 stake.  At the same odds, you would stand to get £10 back from a £2.00 bet.

Working out how much you could win based on odds is simply down to mathematics.  As above, you should be able to work out how much you stand to receive on straight bets from both fractional and decimal systems.  Which do you prefer?

Using Odds to Calculate Your Winnings

Using odds to calculate your winnings is fairly simple.  Unless you get into more advanced betting such as each-ways or accumulators, simply take the odds you are given and multiply it by your stake.  Do be aware, however, that odds and probabilities have a habit of changing.

how do betting odds work

When it comes to straight bets, it may be safer to place money on shorter odds, however, you will stand to get more money from longer chances.  A favourite in any given scenario may have odds of 2/1.  This means, if you place a bet of £10, you will only get £20 back.  If you choose to back odds that are much longer, at 50/1, you stand to win £500 for your £10.  This is why rank outside chances are often very tempting.

However, they are often set up at high odds for a reason.  They are very unlikely to win for you!  Bookmakers know exactly how to make money, and will be unlikely to hand you many chances to win big.  However, occasionally, there will be upsets, and you can bet against the bookie.

If you are just getting started with betting, it may be safer to start by placing money on favourites and shorter bets.

Making the Most of Your Sports Bets

Making the most of your sports bets is all about figuring out which betting odds are best for you.  Do you want to go all out punting on long odds?  Or would you rather ensure you have a guaranteed return?

You’ll also need to check odds at exchanges and with different bookmakers.  These will differ depending on expert opinion and market analysis.  Therefore, you may be able to find a great set of odds for a likely event with one provider and shorter odds with another.

Odds help us understand how much bookmakers are willing to pay out if things go a certain way.  The key to making serious money from these odds is to do your own research and to see if you can spot something the bookie may be missing.  It may seem unlikely, but long odds are paid out on all the time – there has to be a fair balance for punters, too!

How to Work Out Betting Odds UK

Working out betting odds that UK punters rely on isn’t too tricky, at least once you know the basics.  There are plenty of calculators out there which will help you break down more difficult figures.  However, at the basic level, using decimal and fractional odds is simply about multiplication.

Take a look at various betting exchanges and markets out there and see if you can find a great deal on a likely market. Some sportsbook sites even offer a betting calculator to help you work out the potential winnings. You never know your luck!