Betting odds explained

Odds are used by betting sites to determine what they think the probability is that something is going to happen relating to a specific event or outcome. Betting on odds is the most common form of betting on sports in the world. In our Betting Odds Explained guide you’ll find out how odds work and how to calculate your chances of success.

what are odds

Betting Odds Explained

Odds are calculated according to the probability that something specific may or may not happen. In other words, let’s say the likelihood that Manchester United will win over Liverpool, or how likely that match will end in a certain amount of goals - let’s say 3-0 to United.

In order to try and calculate the answers to these these questions, betting companies use different types of statistics and analysis. When a betting company has gone through all the data and come to a conclusion, they can then calculate and decide on what odds they want to give out.

How do odds work?

When you bet on odds online you’re actually trying to predict the outcome of a particular match or tournament. Nowadays different betting companies offer a wide range of specific things you can bet on, and it can be anything from guessing the winner of a match to which team will have the most corners. Your odds and your bet will determine the likelihood you will win. The higher the bet and the odds, the higher the amount you stand to win.

You’ll find that in different parts of the world odds are displayed in alternative ways. For example, in the UK odds are displayed by betting companies fractionally, whereas in Europe it’s more common to use decimal odds. In America they use a completely different system altogether called Moneyline odds. Here are some examples beneath:

  • Fractional odds: 1/1
  • Decimal odds: 2.00
  • Moneyline odds: +100.00

Probability and odds: The Chances of Winning

In every match or competition there are a number of likely outcomes that you can bet on. A betting company will decide the odds depending on how high the likelihood of that event resulting in a particular way actually is.

If your choice of bet has low odds it means that the betting company thinks that the likelihood that your bet will win is high.

If the odds for your bet are high, it means that the betting company thinks the likelihood of your bet resulting in a win will be low.

Below you'll find a useful way to figure out how likely your chances of winning actually are: 

Probability: Your chances of winning from the odds
OddsChances of Winning
1/20 (1.05)95%
1/10 (1.10)90.9%
1/5 (1.20)83.3%
3/10 (1.30)77%
1/2 (1.50)66.6%
3/5 (1.60)62.5%
7/10 (1.70)58.8%
4/5 (1.80)55.5%
9/10 (1.90)52.6%
1/1 (2.00)50%
11/10 (2.10)47.6%
6/5 (2.20)45.45%
13/10 (2.30)43.47%
7/5 (2.40)41.66%
6/4 (2.50)40%
8/5 (2.60)38.5%
17/10 (2.70)37%
9/5 (2.80)35%
19/10 (2.90)34.5%
2/1 (3.00)33.3%
5/2 (3.50)28.5%
3/1 (4.00)25%
4/1 (5.00)20%
5/2 (6.00)16.6%
6/1 (7.00)14%
7/1 (8.00)12.5%
8/1 (9.00)11%
9/1 (10.00)10%
19/1 (20.00)5%
29/1 (30.00)3%
39/1 (40.00)2.5%
49/1 (50.00)2%
59/1 (60.00)1.6%
69/1 (70.00)1.4%
79/1 (80.00)1.25%
89/1 (90.00)1.11%
99/1 (100.00)1%

Why bet using odds?

There’s no better way to make a match mean more than by putting a bet on it. A great way to make the most of your sporting knowledge and to further develop it is to get into sports betting.

Sports betting in the UK is extremely popular, and betting companies succeed on a daily basis in attracting new members to their sites. One of the main reasons for a betting site’s success is, among on things, the wide range of markets they can offer within betting.

If you’re a customer with one of the bigger betting sites, then you already know how many different markets you can bet on. From the Premier League to rugby, cricket, tennis and even who’ll win the next General Election.

Betting sites are extremely eager to offer as wide a range of markets as they possibly can, so that you as a customer can play on whatever catches the eye. Just having the opportunity to bet on whatever you feel like and wherever you are has become an extremely sought after commodity and something betting companies are eager to utilise. That’s why the majority of betting sites nowadays have a website that is optimised for use on smartphones, or even a mobile app which makes it easy and convenient for customers to place bets.

Utilising mobile betting is extremely important when it comes to live-betting. Many people who follow matches live want to make the most of their expertise as the game develops, and therefore need to be able to place a bet immediately.

What are good odds?

We would normally consider ‘good’ odds to be when the likelihood of a potential outcome is better than what the odds actually are. Basically, this means you think your bet has a bigger chance of winning than the odds of what the betting site is offering.

In order to be a successful punter it’s important that you assess if the odds are good or not. But what do we really consider to be ‘good’ odds? Good odds are when the likelihood of a particular outcome is better than what the odds actually are. Basically, this means you think your bet has a bigger chance of winning than the odds of what the betting site is offering.

That’s why you should always be careful if you are letting your heart lead you astray when looking for good odds.

When analysing odds it’s especially important to not overestimate your favourite team, or that you underestimate your rival’s capabilities. Always make sure that you act professionally and that you treat the odds objectively. Don’t let your heart lead you!

The most common example of explaining if odds are good or not is by flipping a coin. When you flip a coin you have a 50% chance of landing heads or tails. So let’s use this explanation to clarify what we mean by using two betting companies. Let’s say these two betting companies have similar odds, and one offers 11/10, while the other offers 20/21. To find out which betting site’s odds are good or bad you need to make a quick calculation.

Step 1:

Find out what 50% corresponds to if we write it out as a decimal.

  • 100/50% = 1/1

Step 2:

Now you know that a 50% chance of landing a head or a tail corresponds to odds of 1/1.

  • Betting site 1 gives you odds of 11/10 that the coin will land on a tail
  • Betting site 2 gives you odds of 19/20 that the coin will land on a tail

Step 3:

In order to find out if the betting site is giving you good odds you’ll need to use a simple formula:

  • Value = (likelihood * decimal odds) - 1
  • Value = 1/20 - 1
  • If the value is better than 0 then we’ve found good odds

If you multiply the odds that you’ve been given by 50% then you’ll get the following:

  • Betting site 1: 11/10 x 50 = 1/20
  • Betting site 2: 19/20 x 50 = 193/2

In summary:

What we can take away from our coin toss is that the value of what Betting Site 1 is offering is 1/20, which is a positive value, meaning we’ve found good odds. Whereas Betting Site 2 is giving us negative odds of 193/2, meaning that we don’t want to opt for Betting Site 2.

Finding the best odds

When you’ve found a match you want to bet on it’s always worth comparing odds from different betting sites to find the best available odds. You’ll find that if you’re willing to spend a little time shopping around you’ll find better odds than the odds you got from the first betting site. However, don’t expect to find a huge amount of difference as betting companies often use the same statistics to calculate their odds.