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Betting Odds Explained: Learn the Meaning of Odds

Betting odds are one of the basic principles of sports betting and understanding them is crucial when looking to get involved with sports betting. This guide aims to explain what betting odds are, how to use them and what the differences between different betting odds formats are.

Keep reading and find out how betting odds influence your choice of sports betting strategies and how they are used to calculate your winnings as well as the probability of an event happening. The most basic idea of this guide is to teach you how to start thinking about sports betting in terms of finding good odds compared to actual probabilities instead of trying to predict future events.

Most important facts:

  • Betting odds determine your winnings
  • Three different formats are used
  • Betting odds represent bookie’s view of probability
  • Beat the bookies by finding good odds
  • Shop around for best odds available

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Basic Sports Betting Probability Explained

All gambling is based on probability of an event happening. For instance, if you are drawing a card from a deck of 52 cards where 26 are red and 26 are black, the chances of guessing the colour of the card you will draw are 50%. In terms of betting odds, this would mean you have a 1 in 2 chance of winning.

While the odds of the above are very clear cut, odds in sports betting are a lot harder to determine. The bookmakers create betting odds based on their own predictions, which are a product of careful statistical analysis conducted by powerful computer algorithms.

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However, more often than not, bookmakers get the probability of an event happening pretty close to right. The best sports betting sites give players the odds only a fraction worse than those they have come up through analysis. Other, less popular bookmakers, will often give odds that are far worse than the realistic chance of an event happening, giving them a significant edge.

To explain how bookies set odds for sporting events, let us look at a specific example. Let us assume that Team A is playing against team B. The bookmaker believes, after careful analysis, that Team A will win 50% of the time. Fair odds in this case would be 1/1 or 2.00 (two basic odds formats). Betting at these odds, assuming Team A really wins 50% of the time would result in players breaking even. Since the bookie aims to make money, they would likely give the player odds closer to 1.90 or even 1.80, depending on the bookie in question.

Some of the betting sites in Kenya have been known to offer significantly lower odds than their international counterparts, often making betting with the popular international brands like Bet365 the better option.

How to Use Betting Odds

In very basic terms, betting odds determine how much we win when we get a bet right. For example, if the odds in English Premier League were always 10/1 on hosts to win, this would be a profitable bet to make every single time. However, because bookies understand sports very well and have nearly perfect statistical programs, the odds are never this favourable and are much closer to reality.

Here is what the odds mean in terms of winnings:

  • Bet USD 10 on 1.50 odds and win USD 15 (USD 5 Profit)
  • Bet USD 10 on 3.00 odds and win UDS 30 (USD 20 Profit)
  • Bet USD 10 on 15.00 odds and win USD 150 (USD 140 Profit)

In order to make a profit with sports betting, you will need to find those selections where the betting odds exceed your estimated probability of an event happening. An example of this would be a bookie offering odds of 2.00 on hosts winning in a match where they are the stronger team in general and desperately need a win against a team that has no motivation to win. Of course, such examples are very rare, and odds on such a match would usually be closer to 1.20, but bookmakers do make mistakes, and the best bettors know how to capitalize on such mistakes.

Betting odds are also very important when betting on matches in-play. Live betting sites in Kenya allow users to place bets on matches that have already started. During live betting, the odds change literally every few minutes, which makes understanding them and how they impact potential winnings and probability of events happening even more important.

Decimal, Fractional and American Odds

There are three common formats of betting odds and they are Decimal, Fractional and American. Most bookmakers allow users to switch between the three formats very easily. A simple example of the three formats can be given through a selection where a bookie is offering even money:

  • Decimal Odds: 2.00
  • Fractional Odds: 1/1
  • American Odds: +100

Decimal odds demonstrate potential winnings through a decimal number. In the above example a player wins one unit for every one unit he bets. The 2.00 represents 1.00 that the player is betting and 1.00 that is profit. The easy way to calculate winnings through decimal odds is Stake*Odds – Stake.

Betting odds explained

Learn the different betting odds formats and use your favorite

Fractional odds show potential winnings through fractions. In the above example, every unit staked would return one unit of profit. If the odds were 2/1 you would need to stake one unit to win two units of profit and if they were 1/2 you would need to bet two units to win one unit of profit. In fractional odds, the first number represents the number of units you profit and the second number represents the number of units you need to stake.

American odds are based around a fictional USD 100 win. American odds can be positive or negative. A negative number represents an amount you need to bet to win USD 100. A positive number represents how much you will win if you bet USD 100. These odds are mainly used by players in the USA.

Shopping Around for Odds

The introduction of online betting has made it possible for a single user to bet with dozens of different bookmakers without even having to leave their home. This makes it possible to shop around and look for better odds on every selection you see, which is always a good idea. You can use our Betting Odds Comparison page to find the best odds at all times.

Finding better odds every single time assures that you are making profit in the long run. While in the short run a small increase in price may seem somewhat meaningless, that slight edge can often mean the difference between breaking even and winning a decent sum. These slight edges tend to accumulate, so be sure to shop around for best odds every single time.

Conclusion: Look to Beat the Odds, Not Predict the Future

The most basic lesson you should take away from this guide on betting odds is that sports betting is all about finding favourable odds and not simply trying to guess what will happen in every game. If you want some help in finding good betting odds, check out our Betting Tips, for professional betting tips by our team of expert pundits. Keep learning as you place your bets and over time you will know exactly how to find value in betting markets offered across the sports betting sites.

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