Pilot Aimee Jones
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There are many mysteries in the world. Is there alien life out there? Will we ever travel beyond our own galaxy? One thing that is less of a mystery is the importance of betting odds. I’m not going to patronise you by pretending you don’t already know what odds are. You’re here at PlayersBest already, which would suggest you’re wiser about betting than most people in the known universe.
You likely already know that betting odds are a means of telling you implied probability. And if you don’t know that, then you’ll very likely at least know they tell you how much you’ll win if your bet is successful. There couldn’t be anything more important in the world of sports betting.
So, why are we here? Well, while plenty of people understand the fundamentals of odds, they don’t dig deeper. That is how you unravel a greater understanding of whatever betting galaxy you frequent, after all. Here I’m going to go beyond the basics, so you can head into your next betting mission fully equipped and ready to engage rockets.
Have you ever headed onto a betting site, only to find that the odds now seem to be in a different language? If you have, there’s no need to worry – you just encountered one of the different betting odds types. The good news is that on most betting sites, these can actually be converted to whatever odds type you are most comfortable with. But, on the off chance that’s not possible, let’s go through the three you’re most likely to encounter on your travels.
There are fractional, decimal and American odds. I’m going to use a 50% and 10% probability for my examples here and throughout this article for the sake of explaining these concepts simply and consistently. You can then apply this reasoning to whatever probabilities you wish.
I’m going to go into the conversions and implications in a moment, but a couple of observations first. We had to invent planes before going to the moon, after all. The first is that you probably see American odds far less. You may be totally unfamiliar with them. Fractional odds are the most common, but you’ve likely come across decimal odds from time to time. Remember though, that all of these are just different ways of saying the same thing.
Ok, so we know what our different odds look like, but how do they actually work? Before we go into hyperdrive, let me mention the obvious. A lot of people don’t worry about converting odds into implied probability. Before you place your bet, the betting slip should tell you your potential returns. Plenty of people are content with simply deciding if those potential returns sound good to them. And if that’s all you want to do, there’s nothing wrong with this.
However, understanding how these conversions work can put you on a whole new world of comprehension. When you’re betting, you want to identify when you think the bookmaker has got the odds wrong and when you can make that work to your advantage. The only way of doing this is to understand the implied probability behind those odds. That is why we convert odds into percentages.
Why is 50% as a fractional odd 1/1? How does that work for other fractions? To work this out, you simply divide the second number by the total of both numbers added together. So, let’s add them together. 1+1=2. If you then divide 1 by 2, you get 0.5, which equates to half. You can multiply your final amount by 100 to get a whole number which represents your probability as a percentage – in this case, it’s 50%.
Let’s do that again for 10%. Add 9 and 1 together, you get 10. Divided 1 by 10 and that’s 0.1 on a calculator, or multiply it by 100 to get 10%. You can see that fractional odds are just equations and pretty simple ones at that.
Decimal odds aren’t rocket science either. To convert them into percentages, you just take 1, divide it by the decimal odds, and multiply it by 100. So, for example, if your decimal odds were 2.0, you divide 1 by this then multiply by 100, which gives you 50%. If the decimal odds were 10.00, you divide 1 by this amount, multiply by 100 and you get 10%.
Finally, there’s American odds. In the UK, you’ll likely have to travel quite far into betting cyberspace to need to convert these, but just to complete your education, here’s a quick explanation.
The first step of the formula here is to add 100 to the American odds amount then divide 100 by that total. So, if your American odds are 100, you add 100 to make it 200 then divide 100 by it. 100 divided by 200 equals 0.5. You once again multiply this by 100 to get a whole number for your percentage, which is 50% in this example.
Let’s do that again with 900 American odds. 900+100=1000. You then work out 100 divided by 1000, which is 0.1. Multiply it by 100 to get a whole number and you get 10%.
I hope from this, you can see that all of these odds are just simple formulas. Each one can be easily translated to percentages, allowing you to quickly understand the implied probability. Deciding whether you agree with that implied probability is key to taking your betting journey to a whole new galaxy.
The reason it’s important to understand implied probability is to make comparing your prediction to the bookmaker’s easier. By doing this, you can more effectively identify where, in your opinion, the bookmaker has underestimated a team or player’s chances, and you can make a potentially large profit from that when you bet smartly. It’s like a war of wits with an alien force you can’t see, but you know it’s out there.
There is another reason too. That’s to see if the bookmaker itself is generally offering you quality odds as a whole on that event. The way you do this is by adding together all of the implied percentages across the possible outcomes (win/lose/draw) and seeing how close it comes to 100%. Here’s some space-age wisdom for you: if the markets represent all possibilities, then it must, surely, come to 100%. That’s some Spok like logic right there. However, it will come to over that amount, and this amount above 100% is known as the overround.
The overround is the mathematical advantage the operator has over the player. Although some may view this as unfair, I disagree. Without it, bookmakers would find it very hard to stay in business. So, I think of the overround as a necessary element to betting. The closer to 100% though, the better. As a rule of thumb, anything below 110% is competitive.
Let’s take an example of Liverpool vs Manchester City. If you added together the implied probability of a home win, an away win and a draw and it came to 103%, that would be a reasonable overround and a good deal. If it was over 110% – even if your selected market seemed good – it would show you the bookmaker was not offering quality odds on that event.
Would it be easy then if I could just tell you, point-blank, which operator has the best odds? As is often the case, the betting galaxy is simply more complicated than you may have initially hoped. No bookmaker always has the best odds on every market. It’s simply not possible because of the interaction between competing markets and the ultra-competitive nature of sports betting. But like the sun’s rays bringing life to our planet, the latter point does have benefits for us.
All of that competition means that there are many bookmakers who provide consistently excellent odds across many markets. That’s why I always take odds quality very seriously in our guides, analysis and reviews. After all, better odds add up to more winnings for you.
It’s worth pointing out that betting odds aren’t as static as people often think. Like moonrocks, they drift fluidly. They can change with the markets, with changing dynamics and events, and also with promotions.
Odds boost – often known as Bet Boosts – can be like strapping a rocket to the back of your odds. Some bookmakers have selected markets with these promotions, while some let you choose your own. Either way, the effect is the same. You get odds that are tangibly better than they originally were. In fact, if you convert them into implied percentages, you can see exactly how much better your odds are.
A lot of people wrongly underestimate the importance of understanding betting odds – but not you, fellow interstellar traveller. I hope that you can see how understanding odds as implied probabilities can help you strategise and ensure you are getting better betting value.
Odds are a language that needs to be understood to really get your head around the inner molecules of betting cyberspace. I hope that now, you have all the tools you need to set forth and explore.