Odds (also known as “line” or “point spread”) are among the most fundamental concepts to understanding sports betting. In the simplest terms, the odds represent the likelihood that a particular team will win a particular game or contest. For example, if you bet $100 on the New York Jets to win the Super Bowl, the odds are 1/3 that they will win. In most cases, there will be an accepted rule or set of rules that experts and experienced bettors use to determine which teams to bet on. For instance, many sportsbooks will not accept bets on teams that have not yet begun their seasons. Nevertheless, it is imperative to keep in mind that the odds can always change, and that it is always a toss-up as to which team will win the day’s action.
Formula For Calculating Odds
The odds of an event or game can be determined using a simple formula that takes into account the over/under (O/U) total and the teams’ respective rankings or seedings (depending on the sport):
- The formula for single-game odds is:
- The formula for betting on the week’s games is:
- For example, if you bet $100 on the New York Jets to win the Super Bowl and the over/under is set at 45.5, the formula above determines that the Jets have a 17% (1/6) chance of winning.
Whether you’re a seasoned sports bettor who wants to stay on top of the latest odds or a beginner trying to figure out the math behind sports betting, odds converter tools can also be quite helpful. Many web sites offer these utilities so that you can quickly and easily convert odds from one set of values to another. For example, you may want to know what the odds are for your favorite team in their annual winter Classic. Simply open the site’s odds converter and input the needed information. You will then see a calculation along with a conversion to either decimal or fractional odds. In the case of the example above, entering the information for the Jets and the Superbowl yields:
- Jets: 45.5
- Superbowl: O/U
- Conversion: 3.78
From here, you can see that the decimal odds are 3.78, which converted to fractional odds is 0.78. This means that the New York Jets have a 7.8% chance of winning the Superbowl.
History Of Odds
Odds have been around since the 1800s, with American statesman William Howard Russell publishing an article in the Boston Journal in 1894 entitled “What Are The Odds?” In it, he wrote:
- “On October 23, 1895, the New York American published an extended essay by Russell entitled ‘The Theory and Practice of Bookmaking’. In it, he laid out the theory and practice of odds, which he defined as ‘the probability that one proposition will succeed when placed before a group of persons to be named’.”
- “…in the vast majority of cases, the theory of bookmaking can be reduced to the following five principles:
- Money Back
- Good Faith
- Fair Play
According to the above, Russell believed that bookmaking should be based on objective criteria and scientific statistics rather than just on the experience of the bookmaker. This is an important point because, historically, many bookmakers have had a tendency to take advantage of their clients by making very risky and sometimes (in the case of horse racing) criminal-like offers. An objective and scientific approach to bookmaking should reduce the number of questionable offers and enhance the integrity of the product.
Odds are among the most fundamental concepts to understanding sports betting. They determine the likelihood that a particular team will win a particular game or contest. In most cases, there will be an accepted rule or set of rules that experts and experienced bettors use to determine which teams to bet on. Nevertheless, it is imperative to keep in mind that the odds can always change, and that it is always a toss-up as to which team will win the day’s action.