Sports betting is an entertaining activity, suitable for everyone and requiring little to no experience to be fun. Making a profit and thriving in the long run is an entirely different thing, as research, commitment and a solid understanding of odds and markets are required. Speaking of odds, they are the cornerstone of sports betting and there are a couple of things that one should learn about how the odds work.
What are Sports Betting Odds?
The odds are the numerical expression of the chance of something to happen. In sports betting, they tell you how likely it is for a team to win, a goal to be scored or any other event to happen. Low odds indicate a high probability, while high odds make it crystal clear that the event is unlikely to occur. Players only need to take a glance at the odds to determine the likelihood of such an event, as well as the potential return on investment.
There is an indissoluble link between the risks taken and the payout, so betting on low odds will naturally result in low winnings. The odds can be expressed in decimal, American and fractional formats, but they all have this key thing in common. Bookmakers will set the odds based on their own assessment of risk and their willingness to pay if a certain event happens. There are always slight differences between the odds offered by different sports books, but they almost always point into the same direction.
How to Find Value in Betting Odds?
The house always wins because bookmakers offer odds that only pay a percentage of the money wagered. For example, when punters bet on coin flip events, they don’t get even odds on each possible outcome. Instead, the sports book will frequently offer odds of 9/10, respectively 1.90, which trigger a profit worth 90% the stakes. If two people bet on the opposite outcomes, the bookie will still make a profit regardless of who wins the match. Betting exchanges and the best paying sports books offer higher odds, but they rarely cross the 1.95 threshold, so the house still wins.
A thorough understanding of probability and odds can help punters extract the maximum value from the betting odds available. Experience, research and attention paid to details can help you find those odds that slightly exceed the risks. Backing a team that has a 55% chance to win at odds of 2.00 is a good example of brilliant betting. In the long run, punters should aim for betting exclusively on such events and markets to offset the house edge, instead of focusing on seemingly safe matches.
Shop for the Best Betting Odds
The online gambling industry has slowly but surely turned into a buyer’s market, simply because punters have so many worthy options. It pays off to open accounts with different bookmakers just to be able to bet on the highest odds available. In the long run, even the tiniest differences add up and they can make the difference between a winning, losing and a breakeven punter.
Every now and then, bookmakers get it wrong in their quest of determining the probability of a certain event. On those rare occasions, punters can get odds that slightly exceed even value on both outcomes, at different bookies. This opens the door for “arbitrage”, a betting strategy that guarantees a small profit regardless of who wins. If you get odds of 2.05 on Team A and 2.05 on Team B at different bookmakers, without the possibility of a draw, you are guaranteed a profit by simply speculating these odds.
Decimal vs Fractional vs American Odds
Sports betting odds are expressed differently based on the targeted audience and they go by the name of decimal, fractional and American. Decimal odds are the most common and they quote the potential return on investment, which includes the stakes & profits. Fractional odds are used in the UK and Ireland, while highlighting only the potential profits. American odds are more complex, with the positive figures stating the winnings, while the negative figures indicate the amount one needs to bet to win a certain amount.
For example, if you bet on an event with an 80% chance to happen the Decimal odds will be displayed as 1.25. The same odds will look like 1/4 at bookmakers that use Fractional odds while American and will indicate the value of -400. Even experienced punters usually stick to a single odds format and modern bookmakers have drop-down menus allowing users to select their odds of choice. When this option is not available, players can use one of the many free odds converter tools available on the Internet.