Betting odds explained – How do odds work in 2019?

By November 2, 2019Betting
Betting odds explained

Betting odds are possibly the most important thing to consider if you’re new to gambling. Your entire betting strategy is based around odds.

It’s vital you understand what they are and how they work in order to maximise your profit.

Here’s what we’ll cover in our betting odds explainer guide:

  • How betting odds work
  • How to read betting odds
  • Finding the most valuable odds

Let’s dive straight in.

How betting odds work

If you’re a betting beginner, you may be confused about what different betting odds look like, what they mean and how they work.

However, understanding how odds work is vital to a successful betting strategy in 2019 and beyond.

Not to worry, with the help of our guide, you’ll soon get the hang of it.

What are odds?

Betting odds or prices represent the likelihood of an outcome along with letting you know how much you’ll win.

Bookmakers set the odds based on their predictions. They also build their profit margin (otherwise known as vig) into the odds.

Ladbrokes betting odds explained

Betting exchanges differ from traditional bookmakers so if you’re using one of them, the odds work a little differently.

The odds are set by the punters as opposed to the bookmaker and there is no profit margin to consider. This means the odds are generally better value at betting exchanges as we’ll look at below.

How to read betting odds

Let’s look at how to read betting odds and find out what they mean.

Reading betting odds is relatively easy when you know what you’re looking for.

Here’s an example of simple odds.

With odds of 1/1, a £1 bet will return £1. You may see odds of 1/1 written as evens (EVS) or 2.00 in decimal odds.

These odds state that there’s a 50/50 chance of you winning the bet. Whilst this may be hard to picture with sports betting, imagine you’re guessing which side a coin will land on

Heads or tails? You have a 50% chance of guessing correctly.

Here’s another example of some betting odds.

OddsMonkey Betfair Integration

With odds of 5/1, a £1 bet will return £5. In decimal odds, this would be 6.00.

Converting odds is an important strategy which we’ll leave for another article.

Working out probability

When you’re looking at betting odds, you may want to calculate the probability of you winning your bet.

Odds to probability formula:

Divide the odds by one plus the odds

So if you had odds of 4/1, you’d do the following calculation: 1 / (4 + 1) = 0.20

Using the odds above, you’d have a 20% chance of winning your bet.

Over time and as you analyse more odds, you’ll only get better at reading betting odds. It will become second nature very quickly.

Finding valuable odds

Next up in our explainer guide, we’re going to look at finding valuable odds and how that affects your profit.

Without a doubt, one of our best betting tips is to always look for and pick valuable odds when placing bets. This helps you maximise your profit no end.

Bookmakers offer different prices for certain events and markets meaning there are typically better prices available if you look around.

For example, here’s a comparison of odds between bet365 and Smarkets on a Premier League fixture between Crystal Palace and Leicester.

It’s important to note that Smarkets is a betting exchange which is slightly different from your traditional bookmakers.

So here are the odds at bet365.

Odds comparison bet365

And Smarkets.

Odds at Smarkets betting exchange

The back odds are in green in the second screenshot. At the time of writing, Smarkets are offering better odds on both a Crystal Palace and Leicester win.

Here’s a quick comparison:

Crystal Palace
bet365 – 3.50
Smarkets – 3.75

Leicester City
bet365 – 2.10
Smarkets – 2.24

Whilst this is not always the case, it’s common for betting exchanges to offer better prices than bookmakers.

By taking advantage of more valuable odds, you’ll maximise your profit on winning bets.

So how can you check for the best betting odds?

Bettors use a process called line shopping to find the best and most valuable odds. In simple terms, you scan a number of bookmakers and check which offer the best prices.

You can do this manually or use sites like Oddschecker to help you. If you’re only interested in a couple of bookies, it’s probably easier to check yourself.

Finding valuable odds

However, if you’re looking at more than a few bookmakers, it’s worth using a website to make this process easier and quicker.

All in all, checking for the most valuable odds will certainly help you maximise your profit no matter what strategy you use.

Sports betting odds explained

Most of you reading this article are probably interested in sports betting. It’s the most popular category for punters to bet on as there are hundreds of markets available each week.

Sports betting odds can vary massively, depending on what sport you’re talking about and what you want to bet on.

For example, you could get odds of 5,000/1 on Leicester City winning the Premier League in the Summer of 2015. Somehow they managed to win the title leaving winning punters very happy.

On the other hand, you may have events where the betting odds are incredibly low or short. For example, the following odds on Chelsea beating Crystal Palace in the Premier League are very low.

Bet365 betting odds

How do odds work in football?

A popular question we often get asked is ‘how do odds work in football?’

In short, there’s really no difference between football and other sports when it comes to odds. They all work the same no matter what sport you’re betting on.

To calculate your winnings from a football bet, multiply the odds by your stake. Decimal odds automatically include your stake so I recommend you use this odds format.

Changing odds

It’s common for odds to constantly change in the run-up to an event. This is especially the case at exchanges where punters are continuously buying and selling certain markets.

There aren’t too many downsides of changing odds, just that it makes placing bets more difficult.

Odds change less frequently at traditional bookmakers so if you’re looking for stable markets to place your first few bets, I recommend you start there.

Changing odds happens across all sports but is exaggerated in horse racing due to the unpredictability of the sport.

As I mentioned earlier, if you’re new to betting, stick to bookmakers and popular sports like football. As you gain more experience you can look at other sports and betting formats etc.

Betting odds explained

In summary, odds are a vital part of your betting. It’s important you understand how they work, how to read them and most importantly how to profit from them.

I thoroughly recommend you shop around at different bookmakers to find the best value prices before placing any bets and start by using stable markets.

Let me know if you have any questions about betting odds by leaving a comment below right now.

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About Charles

Charles is the founder of The Sure Bettor. He built the company with the aim of 'getting the word out' about matched betting.

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