Odds (or ‘Ows’ as we lovingly call them in the UK) will be one of the first subjects you encounter when getting into betting. It’s important to understand the differences in meaning between odds and probabilities before entering the world of betting. Once you’re up to speed, though, odds and probabilities are pretty much interchangeable.
Odds, as previously mentioned, are those figures which you’ll come across when getting into gambling. They are generally used to express the likelihood of an event occurring, or happening. To quote Wikipedia:
“An oddsmaker estimates the chances of an event taking place, while a bookmaker expresses the odds of an event occurring.”
In betting, you’ll often come across odds given either for a single event, or for a series of related events. They can be simply stated as :
“For a single event : the chance of that event occurring (=odds) For a series of related events : the chances of the first event, given that the second has occurred (=odds)”
Probabilities, as you might imagine, are a matter of degree. They are sometimes used interchangeably with odds, however, they are technically speaking, different entities. To quote Wikipedia:
“Probabilities are usually expressed as fractions or percentages and are often accompanied by a lower-case version of the word ‘chance’ (e.g., ‘There’s a 20% chance of rain’).”
The general rule is that you should use probabilities in place of odds when speaking or writing in American English. For example, you might say that a certain event has ‘an 80% chance of occurring’ – meaning that its likelihood is 80% (i.e., the chances are in favor of it happening versus not happening).
What Are Match-fixing And Match-betting Scams?
We mentioned earlier that you come across odds (and sometimes probabilities) when getting into gambling. One of the first examples that might come to mind is fixed matches. These are games where a player (or group of players) has the ability to arrange or determine the outcome of a contest (usually a football match). The most infamous example of match-fixing was the 2007 German Cup final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. The former’s Marcel Schmoll was found guilty of attempting to fix the match, and received a lifetime ban from German football. (He was also ordered to pay back the 5.9 million euros in winnings.)
More recently, in October 2019, English Premier League football club Manchester United became aware that matches they had played against Brighton & Hove Albion were being fixed by a third party. The club had to agree to pay out £13.8 million in compensation to the betters. (Manchester United and betters settled a cash dispute.) While this might not seem like a common occurrence, it’s important to remember that fixed matches are nothing new. They’ve been part of sports entertainment for years, and have even been known to occur outside of sports. For example, the 1936 German Grand Prix was marred by allegations of match-fixing. (A court later acquitted four drivers of attempting to fix the race, however.)
That’s not to say that all forms of gambling are questionable. In some cases, especially when played fairly and openly, there are many positive aspects to consider. This is why it’s important to do some research into different forms of gambling before getting involved.
Odds and Probabilities In-Play
When getting into in-play gambling, you’ll frequently come across odds given for the current activity being bet on. In other words, if you’re watching American football and the play-by-play commentator says that the odds of a touchdown in the next quarter are 8 to 1, that means that the odds of a touchdown in the next quarter are currently 8 to 1. When talking percentages or chances, it’s often the case that the activity you’re watching will be expressed in in-play terms. This makes sense, as you’re presumably going to be keeping an eye on the action as it happens.
Fixed Odds vs In-Play Odds
As we mentioned above, fixed odds and in-play odds are often used interchangeably, however, they are technically speaking, different entities. When you’re getting fixed odds, you are agreeing to take them as they are, and not to be able to change them. This is usually the case when you’re getting them from a bookmaker. What this means is that when taking fixed odds, you are accepting that the outcome is somewhat unchangeable, and not playing the odds. To quote Wikipedia:
“Fixed odds are those odds which the bookmaker is prepared to offer, and which you as the gambler have no ability to alter (e.g., in-play odds).”
In-play odds, on the other hand, are those odds which seem to be changing as the game goes on. This is usually the case when you’re playing games where the outcome can change based on the performance of individual players or teams. In-play odds are generally agreed to be a more favorable proposition for the player.
As we mentioned above, fixed odds are those odds which the bookmaker is prepared to offer, and which you as the gambler have no ability to alter (i.e., they’re ‘frozen’ in as far as the outcome is concerned). Sometimes, however, a bookmaker might also offer fixed odds for a game that is not quite fixed. This can happen in cases where a match or competition has the potential for being rigged or tampered with by a third party. In these cases, the bookmaker might decide to provide frozen odds as a safety measure, to prevent anything untoward occurring. Usually, but not always, these types of odds are accompanied by a clause which states that the game may be rigged or tampered with by the bookmaker or their agents.
Why Are Foreign Betting Websites Scams?
If there’s one thing which everyone hates it’s being taken for a ride. Foreign websites which offer betting services, and especially those which are designed to look like the real thing, are frequently the target of scam artists. One of the more common scams involves gaining your trust by showing you fake reviews, or even photos of what appears to be a nice dining experience. However, once you’ve given them your credit card details, the scammers will be happy to order you any foreign delicacy you might desire. Naturally, you’ll never get your money back, and will likely be out of credit if you try to cancel the transactions. The lesson here for anyone getting into gambling is that be very, very careful where you put your trust. You’ll find plenty of trustworthy online bookmakers which offer great value and service, so be sure to read reviews and do your research before committing.
There are times when odds and probabilities are so closely related that they’re almost literally self-explanatory. These are cases where the two terms are essentially interchangeable. For example, if you’re playing a game where the winning team scores the most points, the odds of that team scoring the most points will be 50/50 – i.e., it’s a 50/50 shot at winning the game.
Odds and Probabilities In-Play vs Out-of-Play
The difference between the terms in-play and out-of-play is often pretty self-explanatory. When the game isn’t being played, odds and probabilities do not apply. For example, if you’re watching a movie and there’s a scene where John Madden argues that the odds of his team winning that game are 16 to 1, that means that the odds of his team winning that game are 16 to 1 at that time – a fact which has no bearing on the outcome of the game. When the game is not being played, it is simply a matter of chance as to whether or not his team wins. In other words, it is an out-of-play situation.
Common Examples Of Match-fixing
Here’s a short list of some of the more common examples of match-fixing, including some which occurred well after the practice was made illegal: