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How to Read Betting Odds in Football Bets?

For Beginner

If you want to get into betting on sports, you’re going to need to understand how odds work and how to read them. This is one of the most important things for any bettor to understand, as the odds will directly impact how much you can win from your bet. On this page, we’ll be explaining what betting odds are and how to use them to calculate your potential returns before you make a bet. 

  • Read through this betting odds guide carefully before making any bet. 
  • If you want to make successful bets, understanding odds is crucial as the best bettors always look for value in the odds they come across. 

Knowing the differences between decimal and fractional odds and how to use them to calculate probability is also important. Sports betting does involve a bit of mathematics, but luckily, most of it is fairly straightforward. Read on for our full guide and use it to master sports betting.

What Are Betting Odds

Odds are essentially a way for bookmakers to display how likely they think it is for a specific event to occur. Odds are typically represented by a fraction such as 7/2 or a decimal such as 3.2. However, in North America, moneyline odds such as +200 are used. Most sports betting sites will allow you to easily switch between odds formats so you can choose the one you prefer.

Any betting market on any event will have odds available, which give you a rough idea of the probability of that outcome occurring. Not only do odds tell you the possible likelihood of an event, but they also tell you how much you can stand to win back from your stake if you place a bet. This is obviously incredibly important for any bettor to know, as you shouldn’t place a bet without first understanding how much you could win back. 

Most betting odds can typically be described as long, short or even. Long odds are for events that are less likely to happen, while short odds are for events more likely to happen. Even odds are used for events where the two outcomes are both equally likely to happen. 

Although betting odds generally represent the probability of an event, they’re also changed over time to reflect how people are betting. In other words, if a lot of people bet on the home side, the bookmakers may shorten the odds of the outcome. This way, bookies calculate the odds in a way to ensure that they come out on top, but that doesn’t mean that sports bettors can’t still find value and make a profit. 

What Is Probability

Probability is a measure of how likely it is for an event to occur. In football, you might talk about the probability of a team winning the league or of a particular player scoring in a match. All events have a certain number of outcomes, and the probability of an outcome is the ratio of the number of events that produce that outcome to the number that don’t. 

With sports betting, the term implied probability is more commonly used as this is where the odds are converted into a percentage to view the supposed likelihood of an outcome. Bookmakers base their odds on probabilities but will also change them depending on how people are betting. In many cases, bookmakers want to have an equal amount of money on each outcome so that no matter what happens, they always win. As a result, odds will shorten or lengthen as more people bet on a specific outcome. 

Probabilities are very difficult to calculate for sports, as there are a lot of different variables and factors that can influence the result. This is what makes sports so exciting and what makes sports betting potentially profitable. It doesn’t matter how good the bookmakers are at calculating probability because things can always happen that defy the odds. 

How to Use Odds to Calculate Your Returns

If you want to start sports betting, you’re going to need to be able to calculate your potential returns. For each bet you make, you can check how much you’ll possibly make if your bet is successful by using the odds. The method for calculating your return is slightly different for fractional and decimal odds, but both are relatively straightforward, see our explanations below. 

Fractional Odds

Fractional odds are the most commonly used way for UK bookmakers to display the odds. If you’re betting in the UK, you normally have a choice between decimal and fractional, but fractional is the default. 

Examples of fractional odds include 2/7 for Manchester City to win the Premier League, 4/1 for Burnely to beat Arsenal, 1/1 for Real Madrid to beat Barcelona and 10/1 for Aston Villa to qualify for the Champions League. 

Calculating your returns from fractional odds is fairly straightforward. If we express the fractional odds as A/B, for every value of B that you bet, you’ll receive back returns of A along with your stake. Here are a few examples to help you out:

  • For a selection with odds of 2/7, every £7 you bet will pay you £2 in winnings.
  • For a selection with odds of 4/1, every £1 you bet will pay you £4 in winnings.
  • For a selection with odds of 1/1, every £1 you bet will pay you £1 in winnings.
  • For a selection with odds of 10/1, every £1 you bet will pay you £10 in winnings.

Decimal Odds

Decimal odds are the most common way of displaying odds at European bookmakers, and they’re much simpler to use than fractional odds. All you need to do is multiple the odds by your stake, and you’ll get a figure of the exact amount you’ll receive if you win. With decimal odds, the stake that’s returned to you is also included in the calculation. Here are a few examples for you:

  • If you bet £10 on a selection with odds of 2.5, you’ll get back £25 if it wins.
  • If you bet £10 on a selection with odds of 3.2, you’ll get back £32 if it wins.
  • If you bet £15 on a selection with odds of 1.8, you’ll get back £27 if it wins.
  • If you bet £5 on a selection with odds of 9.0, you’ll get back £45 if it wins. 

Calculating Probability from Betting Odds

As well as being able to calculate winnings from the betting odds, you can also use them to calculate the probability of an event. This is useful if you want to assess the likelihood of something happening, and it’s a good idea to compare it to your own predicted probability to determine whether there’s value in the odds. 

Fractional Odds

For calculating probability from fractional odds, you once again use an equation. Let’s express a set of fractional odds as A/B to demonstrate. The equation to calculate probability is: B/(A+B)*100 = probability %. Here are a few examples to illustrate how to do it:

  • Odds of 2/7 would be calculated as 7/(2+7)*100= 77.78%
  • Odds of 4/1 would be calculated as 1/(4+1)*100= 20%
  • Odds of 1/1 would be calculated as 1/(1+1)*100= 50%
  • Odds of 10/1 would be calculated as 1/(10+1)*100= 9.09%

Decimal Odds

If you want to work out the probability from decimal odds, all you need to do is divide 1 by the decimal odds. Then, just multiply the result by 100. Where the odds are represented by A, this equation is expressed as (1/A)*100= probability. Here are a few examples for you:

  • Odds of 2.5 would be calculated as (1/2.5)*100= 40%
  • Odds of 3.2 would be calculated as (1/3.2)*100= 31.25%
  • Odds of 1.8 would be calculated as (1/1.8)*100= 55.56%
  • Odds of 9.0 would be calculated as (1/9)*100= 11.11%

Summary of Betting Odds

Now you should have a good idea of the differences between decimal and fractional odds as well as understanding how to calculate probability and returns from each. Whether you prefer to use decimal odds or fractional is simply a matter of preference, neither format gives an advantage, although most people would agree that decimal odds are much easier to calculate winnings from. 

  • Remember to always check the odds carefully before placing a bet and make sure you understand how much you stand to win should your bet be successful. 
  • Most bettors will have accounts with multiple betting sites and will regularly shop around to find the best odds before placing their bets. 
  • Remember that although the odds can often be similar between major sites, you can still find a lot of variation. In addition, odds will change over time in the build-up to an event, so watch out for how they change and try to make a profit from it if you can.