Understanding the odds offered by bookmakers is one of the most fundamental parts of betting, and for complete novices, odds can frequently sound like a confusing jumble of numbers and fractions.
In reality, odds are actually quite easy to understand, and once you have the fundamentals down, you can start placing bets knowing exactly what you're risking and what return you can expect if you win. From here you’ll be able to ascertain what ‘good odds’ are for your own situation.
Online bookmakers use odds or prices, to indicate the returns you'll receive for betting on an event outcome.
Every time you place a bet, the odds inform you that, if your wager wins, you will receive an amount back, with the precise sum depending on the odds and wager you place.
As a very basic illustration, let's look at odds of 5/1, which can be written as 5-1 or 6.0 or 500 in American odds. If you wager £1 on a horse with odds of 5/1, you will profit £5 if the wager is successful. The bookmaker will give you a £5 return on every £1 wagered. For example, if you wager £10 with 5/1 odds, you will receive £50 back.
Odds that are fractional are shown as 10/1 or 7/2. There are many ways to try and understand them, but "how much you will win" or "how much you stake" is the simplest way. Therefore, for instance, if you bet £1 at 10/1, you would win £10 (remember, that's your profit; you would also get your £1 back!). When you bet £2 at 7/2, you'll win £7 and get your money back.
In countries like Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Canada, as well as in continental Europe, the decimal method of displaying odds is preferred. Understanding how they operate is helpful if you're considering using a betting exchange or if you want to place bets while travelling abroad and don't want to have to convert odds to fractions.
The payout amount, which includes the stake, is provided by decimal odds, to put it simply. Decimal odds of an event are therefore equivalent to fractional odds when converted to decimal and increased by 1. Therefore, the decimal value of an even number is 2.00. If you selected something like 4/1, it would appear as 5.00, while 1/4 would appear as 1.25.
The most popular type of betting odds used by sportsbooks with a North American presence are called American odds. Beginners may find it difficult to comprehend this type of betting odds, but hopefully, this page will dispel any confusion you may have about how to read American style odds. To give you a starting point from which to draw when we explain how American odds function, we'll start with a fully American Basketball example.
LA Lakers -135
Boston Celtics +350
The odds for each team have a number, a positive or negative sign, and are immediately obvious. These two crucial elements of the American odds format will be covered in more detail below.
In American style odds, the sign that comes before the number determines whether a wager on either team will win more or less money than the amount of the bet. The negative (-) sign indicates that betting on that result will result in a loss relative to the initial bet, whereas the positive (+) sign indicates that betting on that result will result in a gain relative to the initial bet. As you've probably gathered by now, the underdog is always represented by a plus (+) sign, while the favourite is always represented by a minus (-).
American odds always use a baseline value of £100. For favourites you are always risking the money to win £100, and with underdogs you risk £100 to win the amount.
A -135 favourite means you must risk £135 to win £100 from the sports book. So you either lose £135 or win £100.
A +350 underdog means you risk only £100, but you win £350. You either lose £100 or win £350.
What Are Good Odds?
Good odds can be classified as ones with a big return like 80/1, but generally big odds are there for a reason, so in reality, they’re not that good at all - because the likelihood is the return won’t happen. Good odds could be more accurately identified as a generous return on an event that’s likely to happen. As a fictitious example, Man City to beat Everton away might be given at 3/1. Man City are the highly dominant team right now but may have been given 3/1 due to being away from home and possible injuries to players etc. This could be classified as ‘good odds’ due to Man City rarely losing and Everton struggling mid-table.
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