Understanding the Mathematics of Sports Betting Odds

Gambling and betting on sports matches is a fun and exciting activity, especially if you go for live betting events. While it’s quite a thrilling hobby to get into, there’s actually more to it than just betting money on your favourite sports teams. In fact, sports betting requires a lot of strategies, critical thinking and statistics for those who are serious about winning their bets. If you’re trying to understand the logic behind football betting statistics, it’s important to understand the odds and learn how it works in sports betting. 

How Do Odds Work?

Understanding the odds can be a little tricky at first, especially since online sportsbooks will display odds differently based on the sport and location you’re betting on. There are actually three different ways in which sports betting odds can be displayed. Let’s break down each and every one of them.

American Odds

Also known as Moneyline odds, they are known to work differently for favourites and underdogs. These are the odds you’re going to see most commonly in the US. American Odds employ negative and positive signs with the numbers to imply which is the favourite and the underdog in a certain match. Those with the plus sign are the underdogs and show the amount players need to wager to win £100. Similarly, the minus signs represent the favourites and also shows the amount players win for every £100. The larger the absolute value of the number, the larger the favourite or underdog. 

Decimal Betting Odds

Decimal odds are more popular in continental Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. These are a bit easier to understand and work with. The number implies the amount a player wins in total for every £1 bet. Here’s a simple example:

If the odds of Manchester United winning the match are 3.00, and a player bets £50 on this wager, then, they could make a total return of £150, including the initial £50 wager.

In simpler terms, your stake is already included in the decimal number, which makes its total payout calculation easier. There’s no need to add back your stake in this scenario. 

Fractional Odds

Fractional betting odds are among the most popular odds in the world, especially in the UK. These are typically written with a “slash (/)” or a “hyphen (-),” e.g. 6/1 or 6-1 and announced as “six-to-one.” Some of the world’s largest bookmakers prefer to use fractional odds, making it the most commonly used odds in the world.

In a fractional listing of 6/1 odds, this means that for every £1 that you wager, you’ll win £6 in addition to receiving your wagered £1 back. In other words, this is the ratio of the amount won to the initial bet, which means that you will receive a total payout of £7.

Understanding Betting Odds

Bookmakers don’t just predict the winner to make their money. They rely on these formulas to calculate the actual winnings. Betting odds work by reflecting the implied chance of an outcome in monetary terms inclusive of the operator’s margin. It doesn’t actually matter what sport or event you’re betting on, as it all comes down to two things: probability and the bookmaker’s margin.


Knowing how the odds work helps you make better football predictions and better bets. You’ll have a much easier time understanding how to win when betting on matches, regardless of what sport you choose.

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