You’re at the races and about to place a bet. Suddenly, the betting lines look ridiculous: the favourite is at -2.5 points, the second-favourite is at -1 point, and the 3rd-favourite is at +1.5 points. What does all of this mean?
In sports betting, betting lines are used to help gauge the action and determine the outcome of a game or contest. Back in 2014, the industry really took off with a surge in popularity as people wanted to have a little bit of a flutter on the outcome of big sporting events. And what’s a big sports event without a little bit of European football (soccer) on the big screens in pubs and clubs around the world?
While the line may seem quite long, it actually means very little. To explain, let’s take a step back and look at how these numbers came to be in the first place:
The Multiplier: What Is It?
The multiplier is the factor by which the favourite’s odds are increased or decreased to arrive at the final betting line. It is usually expressed in decimal points, though it can be displayed in various ways, for example:
• As a percentage: 5 decimal points equals a multiplier of 1%; 10 decimal points equals a multiplier of 2%; 15 decimal points equals a multiplier of 3%; 20 decimal points equals a multiplier of 4%; etc.
• Or as a fractional number with no decimal points: 5/10 would equal a fractional multiplier of 50%, and so on.
In general, the higher the favourite’s odds (and the longer the line), the bigger the multiplier. Conversely, the smaller the favourite’s odds (and the shorter the line), the smaller the multiplier.
Bookmakers’ Edge: Why Are Favours Increasing?
If you’ve been to the races recently, you may have noticed that the bookmakers’ edge has increased. And what’s the bookmakers’ edge? It’s the difference between the payout the bookmaker makes on a winning ticket (take a bet) and the cost of placing that bet. The edge is typically around 5% with the top-rated bookmakers. So, adding 15% to 10% (the two edges combined) on a winning ticket would mean an additional £5 on €10 or a $10 on a $20 bet.
In general, the bigger the bookmakers’ edge, the bigger the payout for a winning bet. Also, the longer the line, the bigger the bookmakers’ edge (partially because of the multiplier effect).
The Banker: Why Are Doubts Increasing?
Doubts are the opposite of favours in horse racing. If you’re reading this, you may be wondering why odds are going in the other direction. Well, it’s simple: because of the coronavirus pandemic. Before the pandemic, people would always bet on favourites. Now, a lot of them are hedging their bets or just holding on to their cash.
Even before the pandemic, doubts were on the rise. In fact, in 2020, doubts accounted for 45% of all betting while favours were on the decline. In general, the longer the line, the fewer the odds (due to the fact that there are fewer people willing to bet on long shots).
The Over/Under: Why Are They On The Rise?
Odds above and below the line are terms used in sports betting to describe when one team is favoured to win while the other is not. For example, let’s say the favourites are at 1.45 and the underdogs are at 1.25. The favourites’ odds would be above the line at 1.45 and the underdogs’ odds would be below the line at 1.25. In this case, you’d have an over/under bet. The payout on this wager is based on whether the winning team scores more than, less than, or equal to the posted total of the points in the game.
While over/under betting has existed for centuries, it wasn’t until the 1950s that it became widely used. This is probably because it was more convenient to place a ticket on the winner of a tennis match rather than having to place individual bets on each player. Since then, it has become one of the most popular ways to wager because it’s simple and easy to understand. You can also use statistical analysis to determine which team is the best at a particular sport.
Why Are These Numbers Important?
It’s important to keep in mind that these numbers can vary wildly. Sometimes a team can have huge odds with no multiplier and a small chance of winning; other times, it can be the other way around. When this happens, it is important to remember that the number itself doesn’t necessarily mean much. It’s how a particular team is valued by a particular bookmaker at a given moment in time that matters.
These numbers are also important because they can change at any time. If you’re looking to place a bet then, obviously, you need to take into consideration the current line. You also need to consider whether or not you should use a multiplier. The last thing you want to do is place a bet that increases your chances of winning, only to find out that the line had changed in your favour the moment you placed your bet! So, while it’s tempting to look at these numbers and assume they’re etched in stone, the truth is they can change at any moment and you might not know it until it’s too late.
Hitting on all cylinders, these numbers can be a great tool for the serious gambler who wants to learn more about betting odds. Keep in mind that while they may mean little in isolation, they can be quite helpful when used in conjunction with other betting odds or statistical information. Additionally, it is always a good idea to check for any changes to the betting lines directly from the bookmakers’ websites rather than relying on news articles or social media posts to determine the latest odds, as this is often wrong!
The more you know, the better. With regards to betting odds, knowing is half the battle. Keep these things in mind and good luck out there.