When people think of betting odds, they usually think of sports betting. After all, that’s what the majority of books and websites are for. However, there’s more than one way to make a wager, and many of them don’t involve athletes or teams of players. For instance, you can bet on the number of animals a zoo will produce in a month, whether or not a certain movie hits $500 million at the box office, or which celebrity will die first – Elvis, Marilyn, or Michael?
While it’s always interesting to follow sports betting odds, it’s important to understand what they mean. Simply put, betting odds aren’t random. In fact, they’re usually very, very close to what the bookies (the people who offer the odds) believe will happen. In most cases, you can find all the relevant information you need simply by knowing the odds for a particular event.
Here, we’ll explore the meaning of betting odds, how to use them, and how they work.
What Are Betting Odds?
If you’ve ever played the game roulette, you’ll know what betting odds are. Essentially, you take a punt on whether a certain number will be selected or not. What makes betting odds different from just picking numbers at random is the fact that the bookmaker usually provides the odds for you to use. So, if you’re not sure what they mean, just check the relevant tables for sports events and you’ll see what we mean.
In English football, for example, the odds for a side to win a match are usually between 1/3 and 4/13 (1/3 means the team will win the match 3 out of 13 times, etc). That means there’s a 1 in 3 chance the team will win the match. It’s the same with horse racing. If you place a $10 wager on a horse to win at least $150, you’ll get $240 back if he wins, or $150 back if he loses (minus the $10 you originally placed). In other words, you’ll risk $40, and you’ll either make $70 or lose $30.
Why Are Betting Odds Important?
One of the things that makes sports betting so interesting is the fact that, for the most part, the outcomes are uncertain. After all, it’s not like you’re picking the winners of the Super Bowl every week. Most often, sports results are influenced by a variety of factors – from the score of the other games on that day to the strength of each team’s lineup to the weather – and it’s difficult to gauge how each will affect the outcome. That’s what makes it so interesting and attractive to bet on. You have no idea what the result will be, but you feel pretty confident it’ll be something good.
On the other side of the coin, just about everything in life is certain. If you’re driving to work, you’ll get there. If you eat chocolate, you’ll get fat. If you don’t eat chocolate, you’ll get fat. If you go on a diet, you’ll lose weight. If you don’t go on a diet, you’ll lose weight. It’s the same with most things in life. You’ll either get something good or you’ll get something bad. There’s rarely any middle ground.
That said, just because something is certain doesn’t mean it’s good or useful. Take health issues, for example. Sure, you can say that all diseases are certain – once you get them, you can’t cure them. In that sense, they’re like winning the lottery. However, that doesn’t mean you should play the lottery just to be on the safe side. Health problems are, for the most part, caused by poor lifestyle choices. If you want to stay healthy, you need to change your habits (at least for the most part).
Now, here’s the important part: Just because something is certain doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Just because you’re certain a disease will get you doesn’t mean you need to rush out and get tested for it. That’s what’s known as “playing the odds” and it’s usually a bad idea. In the same way, just because you’ve seen a specific movie a thousand times doesn’t mean you should bet on it to win the Academy Award. It just means you’ve seen it a thousand times and it’s definitely worth seeing a hundred more times to fully appreciate its greatness.
One of the reasons why it’s important to understand the odds is that, to some extent, you do have control over what they are. For example, if you want to bet on Arsenal to beat Chelsea this season, you can find all the relevant information you need to place that wager:
- Odds for Arsenal to win
- Odds for Chelsea to win
- Number of goals in each match
- How popular are these teams in England (Betfair’s market share in UK)
- Match date and time
- Weather in London
Now, if you want to become a better gambler, it’s essential you learn how to use betting odds correctly. That means staying away from things you know nothing about and trying to learn as much as you can before placing a bet. It doesn’t mean you should never bet, but it does mean you should learn how to use betting odds correctly. Otherwise, you’ll end up like this gentleman – who placed a £10 bet on Manchester United to win the 2016 UEFA Champions League. No, he did not make £210 back. Instead, he lost £190.
You’ll note we didn’t include the match score in our list of relevant information. That’s because you can usually find that information at the back of the Sportsbook’s website. If you’re ever curious to find out how a particular match ended, you can always look it up online – or for free at many bookmakers’ websites. The score rarely influences the outcome of a match, except in very rare cases. Sometimes, it’ll be the difference between a 1-0 and 2-1 victory. However, in general, the score doesn’t affect the result that much. If you want to improve your odds of winning, then focusing on less-understood factors such as team form or lineup is usually the way to go.
How Do I Use Betting Odds Correctly?
Once you have all the relevant information, how do you use that information correctly to maximize your odds of winning? That’s a tough question, because every situation is different and there’s rarely one correct answer. That’s why it’s always best to refer to specific betting advice when placing a wager. That way, you’ll know exactly what to do. For instance, in the case of Manchester United versus Chelsea below, we have a clear-cut bookmaker’s advice on how to maximize our odds of winning. In fact, it specifically states:
- “With Manchester United’s form as of late, the odds on them scoring in this match are against you. We would steer clear of this one.”
- “Since the start of the season, Betsafe has given this game as 1.34, yet you’ve got to lay your 10/1 on Manchester United to win. You’re better off avoiding it.”
- “If you want to back Manchester United to win, get yourself some goal-bound chickens and place your bet.”
- “If you’re feeling adventurous, do your research on Chelsea’s injury list before placing a wager on this game. They’re likely to be missing a few key players.”
Just remember: In most cases, the more you know, the better off you’ll be. That means getting all the information you can and analyzing it. You’ll then be able to form a clear idea of what will happen and how to position yourself to maximize your chances of winning. In some instances, that may mean putting all your money on one team – in the hopes they’ll cover the spread. In other cases, you may want to put your money on a combination of multiple teams – in the hopes of covering your loses from one or two bad results.
How Does Betting Odds Work?
The previous section gave you a pretty good idea of what betting odds are and why they’re important. Now, we’ll discuss how they work in a bit more detail. If you want to place a bet on, say, Arsenal to beat Chelsea this season, then the first thing you’ll need to do is make sure you’re at least aware of what betting odds are. That means checking the relevant tables and calculating the odds yourself. In the case of this particular bet, you can use the information provided to place your wager: