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How do odds work in sports betting?

Sports betting would be totally lost without the use of odds. They come in many different forms, but all have the same purpose. They determine not just how much you can win but also indicate the opinion the bookmaker  you register with has of the chance of a selection winning. This article will look at how odds work with sections on

  • How odds are calculated
  • The different types of odds

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How Odds are calculated

What is the probability of Liverpool winning the Champions League in the 2020/21 season? That’s a question that bookmakers need to calculate when they work out the odds for that competition.

With odds, they represent the probability of something happening. In our example, Liverpool are in with a good chance of making it to the quarter finals, and one of the contenders. Bayern Munich remain the favourites to win a second straight title. More about the different kind of odds soon. To compare odds visit our betting odds sections.

Odds are useful when you are unfamiliar with a sporting event. You might not know much at all about American Football for example. However, a quick look at the odds bookmakers offer on who will win the Super Bowl will tell you the most favoured teams and those with little chance of winning.

Bookmakers want to make a profit of course. They have experts who study the form and compile the odds for every event. It’s a tough job especially when it comes to in-play betting where the odds are constantly changing. The bookmakers will include a profit margin to ensure they make money from the prices offered.

For example, they could produce different odds on a coin toss ending in a head. The odds of a head or tail are 50/50. If the odds offered equal more than 100%, then the additional amount is their profit margin.

Of course, bookmakers can’t get it right all the time. There may well be times when the odds given are higher than you think they should be, and these are value bets. 

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The different types of odds

There is not one set way of producing odds. The two main ones are the fractional method and the decimal method.  It is the fractional odds that have been with us longest, an example of one is 2/1. The second figure is the stake you make (£1) and the first is the amount you will win if your bet is successful. Therefore, a £1 stake wins £2, your stake will also be returned to you in normal circumstances. If using a free bet, then that may not be the situation. 

In decimal form, the odds are written as 3.0, this means that the return you get will be three times higher than the stake made. Therefore, £1 gets you a return of £3.

It may be that a selection is so fancied to win it is what is called ‘odds on.’  If this is the case, then in fractional form, the first figure will be less than the second. For example, 1/2 means a bet of £2 will win you just £1. With decimal odds, an odds-on selection has a figure that is less than 2.0. For example, 1/2 in fractional odds is shown as 1.5 in decimal form. Every £1 staked will win you 50p.

There are also American odds that can be used. The (+) and (-) signs are important here. If a selection has odds of +200, this means a bet of $100 will make a profit of $200. That’s the equivalent of 2/1 and 3.0. With odds of -120, this means that $120 will have to be placed on your selection to win $100.

When you join an online sportsbook, you will be given the option of which form of odds you wish to use. Our advice is to use the one that you prefer and fully understand. Understanding odds is so important, hopefully this article has explained just how they work.

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