Sports betting is serious business. Compared to fun and entertaining casino games, sports betting often carries much higher stakes and is taken more seriously by gambling veterans.
To aficionados, sports betting is more than just gambling; it’s an art. When compared to traditional casino gamblers, experienced sports gamblers take a much more academic approach to their betting behaviour, basing their decisions off careful study and calculation. Sports gambling pros live and die by the odds, pouring over probabilities and spreads before making their bets.
Before you can be a successful sport better, you must first understand how to decipher and interpret the odds. In this article we’ll define odds, explore the different types of odd formats and discover how you can turn the odds in your favour.
What Are Odds?
At its core, ‘odds’ are defined as the chance or likelihood that something will happen or that an outcome will occur. In sports betting, the odds are based off of the probability that a certain team or competitor will win.
In addition to predicting probability, odds also determine the payout for each bet. Odds are most often based on $100 bets. This does not mean that gamblers must bet using $100 increments. It just means that using a standard bet value makes odds easier to read.
A Guide to Reading the Odds
Before you can interpret the odds, you must first learn the different ways that bookmakers communicate probability. Here are the three most common odds formats:
- Plus and Minus: Some bookmakers use a plus or minus sign to communicate the odds. The plus and minus symbol are used to show how much money is won based on a $100 bet. For example, if a baseball team has odds of +150, that means that for every $100 you bet, you’ll win $150. In contrast, if the same baseball team has odds of -150, that means you must bet $150 in order to win $100.
- Fractional odds: This format displays the odds in fraction form. Imagine that you are watching a tennis tournament and one of the competitors has been given 9/1 odds. There are two different ways to look at this ratio:
- 9/1 can be used to calculate probability by using the following calculation: 1 / (9 + 1) = 0.10. This means that there is a 10% chance that the event will happen.
- 9/1 can also be used to determine payout. 9/1 odds mean that for every $1 you bet, you will win $9. In contrast, a 1/9 odds ratio means that you will win $1 for every $9 that you bet.
- Decimal odds: Odds can also be communicated using a decimal number. Using the same example as above, image that one of the tennis players has 9.0 odds of winning. You can use the calculation (9.0 * $10 stake) – $10 stake to determine that a successful bet would result in a winnings amount of $80.
What Should You Do When the Odds Aren’t in Your Favour?
All too often, sports betting newbies assume that placing a bet on an underdog is too risky a move. Betting on an underdog should never be out of consideration, as long as the bet holds value. In fact, many sports gamblers see an underdog bet as an opportunity to win big.
Bookmakers try to build their odds as a reflection of how the general public will bet. They balance their assumptions of the betting market with odds that favour profitability. Odds aren’t magically plucked out of the sky; they are determined based on the bookmaker’s interpretation of public opinion.
Bookies are human. They can make poor judgement calls just like anyone else. A smart sports gambler can outthink bookmakers by analysing stats and other external forces which could potentially impact the match, such as weather conditions and travel time.
By comparing the bookmaker’s predicted probabilities with your own, you can make an educated decision about which bets hold the most value.
Are There Ways to Ensure the Odds Are Always in Your Favour?
One of the biggest mistakes that new gamblers make is blindly betting on the favourite. Just because a team is the clear favourite, doesn’t always mean that they make for a smart or valuable bet.
The key to smart betting is understanding the difference between odds and value. As I mentioned earlier, bookmakers set odds that reflect public opinion, but sometimes, public opinion is wrong. Smart betters know that knowledge is power; the more information you have, the better. If you’re more informed than the general public, than you instantly provide yourself the upper hand.
Now that you have a basic understanding of odds and how to lean them in your favour, it’s time to get betting! Sports gambling can be both fun and challenging, but it’s important not to take it too lightly. If you make smart and well-informed bets, you’ll easily protect yourself from springing a cash leak.