How to Understand Betting Odds in English

The line between gambling and sports betting has blurred. The legalization of sports betting in various countries has made it acceptable for anyone to place a bet on their favorite sports teams or players. But just because it’s okay to bet on sports doesn’t mean that all forms of gambling are good for you. In fact, a lot of people might think that sports betting is harmless, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s important to understand what are the odds and how to read them so you can make the right decision about betting on sports.

What Are The Odds

If you’re new to the world of betting odds, you might not know what they mean. Essentially, the odds are the result of the bookmaker’s calculation of the expected value of each bet at the time it was placed. For instance, if you tip your apple pie at 50% and it comes up 6-4, the bookmaker has determined that your average bet on that game will yield a profit of 3-1. For the bookmaker, this is a win, because they made money on the bet despite the fact that it lost money for you. In general, the higher the percentage, the better for the bookmaker as long as the game is not rigged (which is always a possibility whenever there’s money on the line). As a beginner, you might not know what the expected value is in your particular case, so it’s good to know that it can vary. For instance, if you bet on a game with 10-point odds and it ends up being close, the actual result could go either way, so in that case, the expected value may be closer to 0-10 than to 10-0.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of variance, it’s pretty easy to grasp. Essentially, variance is the difference between the most likely (or average) outcome of a given event and the least likely (or most extreme) outcome. For example, if you throw a die and it comes up 6, you would say that the variance of the die is 6. This is also known as the randomness of the die. For the purposes of this article, we will use the term randomness to represent the variance of any given event, game, or hand in poker.

How To Read The Odds

Once you know what they are, you can figure out how to read them. One of the simplest ways is by looking at the odds of one team versus another team. For instance, let’s say you have a choice between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals. The odds of the Cubs beating the Cardinals would be 5-1 in favor of the Cubs. The chance of the Cardinals winning the game is 1 in 4, or 25%, which is the same as 1-5. In this example, it’s easy to see that you would choose to bet on the Cardinals, because the overall chance of winning is higher. In general, always choose the odds that are longer than the other, because this means there’s more chance of winning. It’s also good to read the odds as they shorten, because this means the bookmaker is taking the bettors’ money and is not giving it a good chance of winning. This is called a teaser bet and is usually the bookmaker’s tactic when people are laying big bets on long shots that they think are sure to win (or lose).

Another way to look at odds is in relation to the amount of money you would win or lose on a specific bet. This is especially useful for people who bet on sporting events and for those who want to know how much they would win or lose on average for a specific amount of money. For instance, if you bet $100 and it turns out that there’s 10 winners in a row and you win the big pot, your overall profit may be $1,100, but if you lose the $100 bet, you would still be down $1,100. To calculate your average profit or loss, you need to know that on average you will win or lose $100 per bet. To figure out your average profit, you would simply divide the total sum of money you won by the total number of bets, and you would get the result as your average profit per bet. To figure out your average loss, you would do the opposite calculation. This is also known as the expected value of a bet.


As mentioned above, one of the simplest ways to understand the odds is by looking at the ratio of profit versus loss. When you look at the numbers in this way, it’s easier to identify which teams and matchups to bet on and which ones to avoid. For instance, if you compare the profit versus loss ratio of the Boston Red Sox to that of the Chicago Cubs, you would immediately know that it’s a no-brainer to bet against the Red Sox. In this case, by betting the Cubs, you’re sure to lose your $100, but at least you’ll make some money. If you compare the ratios, you’ll see that the overall chances of winning for the Red Sox are higher than those for the Cubs, which means there’s more chance that you’ll make money on the bet. If you are new to betting, it’s always a good idea to look at how much money you’ve made versus how much you’ve lost over the course of several bets. This way, you’ll get a clear picture of whether betting is right for you or not. In the long term, it’s always preferable to be in the black, with profits, otherwise, it’s a bad omen for the future of your betting adventures.


As stated above, one of the simplest ways to understand the odds is by looking at the ratio of loss versus win. When you compare the loss ratio of one team to another team, you are comparing their bad luck to their good luck. For instance, the Tampa Bay Rays have a loss ratio of 32-67, but this year, they’ve had a lot of bad luck, which has made them winless in their last 11 games. If you look at their history, however, you would see that in the previous 41 games, they had 19 winnings and 22 losses, so their loss ratio for this year is 0.458, which is more than 400% better than their overall loss ratio. It’s important to keep in mind that comparing the loss ratio of two teams is comparing their bad luck to good luck. If you want to compare their overall performance, you would have to compare their winnings versus losses, something that would make more sense for a bettor who is looking for a clear short-term winning strategy. In general, if you are looking to place a bet and don’t want to lose money, you should avoid betting against the team with the higher loss ratio.


As you can see, betting odds can be very complicated, which is why it’s important to learn how to read them. With a little bit of reading and research, you’ll be able to understand and use odds effectively, which will put you in good stead for future bets. Remember, just because it’s okay to bet on sports doesn’t mean that all forms of gambling are good for you, and always choose the odds that are longer than the others, because this gives you the best chance of coming out on top. With a little bit of luck, you may find that betting is something that you enjoy doing, but until then, it’s essential that you do your research and learn to read the odds correctly. Good luck out there.