You’ve probably seen signs like these on restaurant menus or shopping mall promotions:
“Buy one get one free” or “Limited time only: shop till you drop dead.”
You may be familiar with the math behind these offers – after all, you’ve probably bought something on a discount just to make a purchase. But did you know exactly what -7.5 meant when used in betting?
To find out, we turned to Mathias Behmann, a Director at OddsBazaar.com. We asked him about the origin of the decimal point and whether you should use it when gambling, because as we’ve established, life sometimes gets complicated when you’re trying to follow the rules. Mathias didn’t shy away from answering our questions, especially since he’s been there, done that, and is now living the life. Let’s dive in.
Why No Decimal Point In Decimal Betting?
If you’ve ever used any sort of currency other than the U.S. dollar, you’ll know that pennies, nickels, and dimes don’t always make a lot of sense to use when dealing with large sums of money. For example, if you have $100 and you want to make a bet with a $10 piece of equipment, you have to break down the numbers to find the exact amount you’re paying in actual money. Otherwise, you could end up with a $110 or $90 receipt, depending on which bill you use.
“The odds in betting have to make sense to the human brain,” Mathias told us. “If you can’t quickly work out what those odds are, you’re going to have a hard time relying on them in real life. Some people will even argue that the decimal point makes doing arithmetic with large numbers easier for humans, because we have ten fingers, and it’s much easier to divide by ten than it is to work out what multi-million digit number goes on the hundredth line of a ledger sheet. It would be amazing if that was true, but it’s certainly not the case that working with large numbers is easy. The human brain is simply not designed to work with huge amounts of data easily. That’s why a lot of bookmakers will only give odds on certain events, like football or horse-racing. Trying to work out the odds of something like the Powerball would drive them crazy.”
How Did The Decimal Point Evolve?
Even if you’ve never used it, you may have heard of the decimal point, which was first used in commerce in the 19th century. The reason for its existence is the same as why we use cents, dimes, and pennies – because they make working with large sums of money much easier. Before the decimal point, merchants used to have to rely on imprecise calculations like ‘2 shillings and 9 pence in the pound’ or ‘4 shillings and 6 pence in the pound.’ With the introduction of the decimal point, merchants could simply say ‘2.9′ or ‘4.6′ and be much more precise.
Similarly, if you walk into a betting shop and try to make a $100 bet with a $100 bill, the bookmaker might laugh you out of the place. There’s no way they’re going to give you $100 worth of currency for a $100 bet. That’s why you have to use smaller denominations in betting – it’s easier for the bookmaker to work with smaller sums of money.
Where Do You Go From Here?
Decimal betting isn’t an exact science, and it can be tricky figuring out the odds of an event you’re not familiar with. You may, however, be familiar with some of the more obscure odds, such as the Japanese Nikkei 225 vs. S&P 500 futures price, which can be found on a lot of online stock market trading platforms. Working with those kinds of odds can be tricky, because typically you have to do a lot of the work in your head. Decimal betting can also be made more complicated by the fact that there are fractions like 3/4, which you have to calculate as whole numbers. You won’t want to use 3/4 in a bet, because you’re much more likely to lose, not win.
At the end of the day, though, it’s all about what’s practical. If you want to follow the rules and get the most out of your betting experience, you have to accept that there are some things you just can’t do. For example, if you want to bet on the stock market, you have to find a bookmaker who accepts U.S. dollars as payment – if you don’t, you’ll have no chance of following the odds and getting a good return on your investment. Or, if you want to place a bet on whether or not Toronto will have a better surface than Philadelphia when the next ice-truck rolls into town, you have to find a bookmaker who accepts Canadian dollars, because the odds are dramatically different.
“The only thing that matters when betting is whether or not you’re going to follow the rules,” Mathias told us. “If you do, you’ll have fun. If you don’t, you’ll just be doing it because odds are against you. If you truly want to have a good time and get the most out of your betting experience, go with what you’re most comfortable with. Whatever it may be, just make sure you understand the rules.”