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Understanding Sports Betting Odds

sports on laptop, understanding betting odds

Understanding sports betting odds means understanding how to succeed at predicting outcomes and winning big. It means being able to make the smart bet, making the most of your bankroll, and landing the jackpot at the end of the day. Sport betting has been a feature in society since the dawn of sport itself. Knowing whether the odds are in your favour or not has always been key to a winning sport betting strategy.

What are betting odds?

Betting odds are the ratio (3 to 1, etc.) of staked amounts in a bet between the bettor and the betting agent. With 3 to 1 odds, a team is 3 times more likely to claim victory than their opponents. They have the better ‘odds’ and are therefore a better bet.

How do odds work?

Every sports encounter, unless where competitors are extremely closely matched, will have a favourite and an underdog. The odds involved reveal the levels of confidence bookies have in each team. Close odds, like 2:1 odds, means there’s very little separating the two teams and it could go either way really. 7:1 odds, in contrast, show that there is a clear favourite that every punter out there expects to win. 

Sports betting probability 

The probability that a sports team or athlete will be victorious can be found by assessing the betting odds themselves. As mentioned above, the probability of the underdog winning 7:1 odds is highly unlikely. In fact, this shows that the favourite is considered 7 times more likely to win than the underdog – or the probability of the favourite winning is 7 times higher than that of the underdog.

Why do betting odds change?

The one thing online sports bettors must know is that betting odds change, and there are countless reasons why. For example, a baseball team’s star pitcher accidentally dislocates their shoulder during the last training session before the big game. This will greatly impact the odds, since the team’s chance of winning the game without their star pitcher isn’t as high as if they had him playing in peak condition.

How to read betting odds

There are three main formats betting odds are represented in. These are the decimal format, American format, and the fractional format. When reading betting odds, always remember that the smallest number represents the favourite, while the bigger number represents the underdog. For example:

Springboks: -100, Wallabies: +250

This shows us that the Springboks are the favourites to win, and that betting on the underdogs to win could pay out handsomely if there is an upset result.

Types of betting odds

As mentioned above, there are three types of betting odds. The majority of betting agencies use the decimal/European format of writing odds. When betting on sports based in the USA, like baseball or American football, it pays to know the American/moneyline format. Then we have the fractional format, commonly used in the UK and also called British odds.

Decimal/European odds

Decimal odds are used throughout the European betting world, with odds displayed as decimal numbers. For example:

Springboks: 2.6, Wallabies: 1.8

American/Moneyline odds

American odds are written using a plus or minus sign, and are also called Moneyline bets. For example:

Springboks: +160, Wallabies: -100

Fractional/British odds

Fractional odds are commonly used in the UK and are widely known as the British format of odds For example:

Springboks: 4/5, Wallabies: 10/5

What sports can you bet on online?

If you can think of the sport, as outlandish and niche as it may be, chances are there’s a sports bookie somewhere in the world that will take bets on it. With the rise of online sports betting, you can bet on practically any sport you can think of – including events that aren’t sport-related like reality TV shows and political elections. On the online sports betting platform, the list of sports you can bet on is quite long:

Comparing odds

Comparing sports betting odds helps us to decide which team or player to hedge our bets on. This is an important step before putting any money down on who we think might claim victory. Below are a few odds and how we compare them:

Kaiser Chiefs: 2.6, Orlando Pirates: 1.4

These decimal odds tell us that Orlando Pirates are the favourites. Their odds are lower, meaning that they are most likely – in the minds of the betting agents and other punters – to win the encounter.

Kaiser Chiefs: +150, Orlando Pirates: -220

These American or moneyline odds tell us that Kaiser Chiefs are the underdogs, and that punters are expecting Orlando Pirates to take victory in this fixture.

Kaiser Chiefs: 8/5, Orlando Pirates: 2/5

These fractional odds, when compared, reveal that again Orlando Pirates are the favourites. A bettor would lose money on a Orlando Pirates bet, but stands a chance to win decent returns if betting on the Kaiser Chiefs.

How do I know how much I am going to win?

Let’s take a look at the different types of odds again, working out what your return would be on each bet:

Kaiser Chiefs: 2.6, Orlando Pirates: 1.4

On a R100 bet, Kaiser Chiefs winning would pay out R100 X 2.6 = R260.

Kaiser Chiefs: +150, Orlando Pirates: -220

A R100 bet on Kaiser Chiefs here will pay out R100 + R150 = R250.

Kaiser Chiefs: 8/5, Orlando Pirates: 2/5

The above tells us that for every R5 wagered on Kaiser Chiefs to win, the bettor will have R8 returned.

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Understanding betting odds on sport is the first step to placing winning wagers and taking home gold.. Never bet online before? Don’t worry – we make the process super simple! Follow these instructions to join now:

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A account gets you access to our almost endless resources and helpful guides. Start betting on sports immediately. Get registered and start making golden predictions in lotto draws happening all over the world!


Are odds different depending on sport?
Yes, they are. The odds will be different depending on the sport, the teams taking part, and the players participating in the fixture.

Why do I need to understand betting odds?
Understanding betting odds is vital to make sure you’re making the smart bet, and not just wasting your money.

Who sets the odds for online sports betting?
The people responsible for setting the odds for online sports betting are bookmakers and sports betting agents like

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