In sports betting, you’ll often encounter terms like over/under, favourites, and public/private odds used to describe the betting market. These numbers and their meanings can be a little tricky to understand, but if you know the various meanings they can have in common usage, then you’ll be able to apply them to your own understanding of sports betting.
In a common usage scenario, odds are used to compare the likelihood of an event occurring with the odds of something else happening. For example, if you place a bet on a football match and the bookmaker’s odds are 2.5 for Arsenal to win, then you’re effectively placing a bet that the Arsenal will win by more than 2.5 goals. In general, the bigger the number, the more advantageous the bet. Similarly, if you have 10/1 odds on an event then this means it will happen 10% of the time and that the other 90% of the time you’ll lose your money. In this case, you’re effectively placing a 10% bet on the event.
In certain situations, the odds of an event will be smaller than the odds of something else happening. This is generally used to indicate a safe or profitable bet. In the first example above, placing a bet on the under will make the game more appealing because the chance of losing is smaller than if you’d bet on the over. Similarly, if you have 10/1 odds on an event but the bookmaker also lists 16/1 odds on another event that is more likely to happen, then the under is the smarter option as you’ll get more money back than if you’d placed a bet on the over.
When the odds of an event are larger than the odds of something else happening, then this signifies a risky or losing bet. Over is generally used to describe a situation where you’re effectively placing a larger bet than you’d otherwise be allowed to by the bookmaker. For example, if you want to bet £100 on a football match and the odds are 5.0 that the other team will score first, then you’re effectively placing a £500 wager because you’ll need to place a £100 wager to make the same sized bet on the under. In these situations, you run the risk of losing more than you would otherwise be allowed to by the bookmaker. This is why it’s usually a bad idea to play with large stakes on unsound odds like this. Typically, you’ll find that the smaller the number, the safer and more profitable the bet. For instance, if you see 50/1 odds on a cricket match, then you’re effectively betting £50 that the other team will score first.
As you can see, there are a few different common usages for odds in sports betting. While these usages can seem confusing at first, once you have a basic understanding of them then you’ll be able to apply this knowledge to your own understanding of sports betting. For example, if you see a situation where the odds are 3/1 on one team and 2/1 on another, then you can assume that the 3/1 team is the more favoured of the two and that this is an advantage you can take for betting purposes.