Understanding Odds and Betting Markets (Guide)

Understanding Odds and Betting Markets

If you’ve taken up sports betting, you’ve probably wondered who makes up the odds, what it depends on, and how to calculate your potential winnings. In this article, we’ll explain everything in order.


The odds (quotes) can be used to calculate the potential profit from each bet. However, the odds can change during the course of a match, especially when it comes to live betting. The higher the odds, the lower the probability (according to the betting operator) that the bet will succeed.

What are Odds?

Betting odds are a numerical indicator which reflects the probability of a particular event in a competition. It includes the operator’s margin (commission) and serves to give the player information about the potential profit. The odds are subject to change: they depend on the situations in the game that can affect the outcome of the event.

Before registering with online betting websites and placing a bet, it is vital that you understand what the odds are and how they are calculated. Without this understanding it is difficult to assess the profitability of a deal, even if the bet is successful.

Different Types of Odds

There are more than 10 types of odds, but in practice most betting platforms only use three: fractional (British), decimal (European) and American.

Fractional Odds

The British Ratio is the ratio of the profit to the amount that must be wagered in order to make that profit. For example, a quotation of 5/2 signals that for every 2 USD wagered, the player will receive a net 5 USD if the bet turns out to be successful.

Translating a fractional quotient into a decimal quotient is very simple: divide the numerator by the denominator and add 1 to the result. For the example mentioned above: 5/2 + 1 = 3.50.

Decimal Odds

European quotes are popular in Eastern Europe and some Asian countries. In order to find out the potential payout of a bet, just multiply its amount by the offered odds. For example, with a 200 USD bet on a 1.89 quote, the winnings would be 378 USD, and the net profit would be 178 USD.

To determine the risks, i.e. the probability of an event including the margin, divide 100 by the quotation figure. For example, 100/1.89 = 52.91. In other words, the probability of the event would be 52.91%.

Moneyline Odds

US quotes are divided into two types: negative and positive (e.g. -110 and +130):

  • A negative multiplier is the amount that must be wagered to win 100 notional units. For example, a figure of -110 means that the player needs to spend 110 USD to make a net profit of 100 USD.
  • A positive multiplier is the potential gain for a wager of 100 units. For example, a +130 figure means that for every 100 USD wagered, a net profit of 130 USD can be made.

How Odds Work?

One week from today, there will be a football match between Spain and Brazil. Experts assume that the Latin Americans will be favourites to win the game. They have worked out the probability of all possible outcomes as a percentage:

  • The draw is 25%;
  • Spain -20%;
  • Brazil – 55%.

If the quotes reflect solely probability, their values will be as follows

  • The draw is 4.00;
  • Spain – 5.00;
  • Brazil – 1.82.

But such figures are extremely rare, because betting sites put a commission on many matches to avoid losses in case of defeat. So, the final quotes for the game will be different from the starting values.

The average margin ranges from 5-8%. With this in mind, the actual odds would look like this:

  • The draw is 3.70;
  • Spain – 4.70;
  • Brazil – 1.75.

Popular Betting Markets

Popular Betting Markets

A market in sports betting is a specific variant of an event (choice) on which a bet is offered. By and large, all betting operator offers for making predictions are markets. The main outcome (win, loss or draw), handicap, and total are separate markets.

Sports Betting

It is often said by betting fans: this operator has a wide spread. What is meant is that it offers a wide range of outcomes for a particular event. As mentioned above, each outcome is a specific market. It turns out that the spread and the betting markets are synonymous.

The most popular betting markets:

  • The outcome is a win/draw;
  • Double chance;
  • Exact score;
  • Total more/less.

Betting on the above options is available on virtually all betting platforms.

Casino Betting

There is a component of excitement in sports betting, and yet the likelihood of winning largely depends on the player’s analytical skills and ability to predict and consider factors that may affect the outcome of an event.

Online casinos are different: the outcome of the draw is determined by a random number generator, and the likelihood of winning a particular game depends on the Return of Betting Rate (RTP). This measures what percentage of the total amount of bets placed on a particular machine will be returned to players as winnings.

However, it is important to remember that RTP is a long-term indicator and does not reflect short-term fluctuations that may be in play. It does not guarantee that every player will get back 95% of his bets.

Understanding Probability

When making decisions about sports betting, it is worth considering the implied probability that a particular event will occur. To determine it, simply divide 1 by the decimal odds. For example, if a football team is given an odds of 2.64 to win the match, that means the probability of winning the match would be: 1/2.64 = 0.38 or 38%.

That is, if a player bet 300 USD on them winning, the potential winnings would be 792 USD. And assuming that the calculated probability of the event is a true reflection of the odds of winning, he will be paid 792 USD 38% of the time.

How to Calculate Potential Winnings?

To determine the winnings of a single bet (order), one has to multiply the amount placed by the market odds. For example, if the user wins a bet worth 150 USD with odds 1.96, the winnings will be 294 USD (150 × 1.96), of which the net profit is 144 USD.

To determine the winnings of a parlay, multiply the odds of the outcomes added to the betting slip. For instance, for a 200 USD bet consisting of three outcomes with odds 2.0, 1.75 and 1.25, the total odds would be 4.37 and the potential payout would be 874 USD. But all predictions made need to be correct in order to receive the payout.

Factors to Consider When Placing Bets

To improve prediction accuracy, you need to consider the key factors that influence the probabilities of the outcome:

  • Team composition;
  • Presence of removals and injuries;
  • Location of the match (away or at home);
  • Motivation to win;
  • Weather conditions;
  • The statistics of the face-to-face encounters;
  • Changes in the coaching staff;
  • Performance figures for the season.

It is also worth paying attention to the composition of the officiating team and news from the world of sport, as an athlete’s performance depends on their psychological and emotional state, which can be affected by personal stress related to divorce, loss of a family member and more.

Responsible Gambling

Reputable betting operators show concern for their audiences by running responsible gaming services. To prevent and combat gambling addiction, they offer

  • Tools for setting deposit limits and rates;
  • Options for self-restriction and temporary account blocking;
  • A questionnaire to identify gambling addiction;
  • Contacts for organisations specialising in psychological support for people with pathological gambling addiction.  

Responsible gambling is part of the internal policy of all betting sites that provide services under licences. It is based on the possibility of self-exclusion in case a player exceeds the financial limits, which are laid down in a certain time limit.


Betting odds are central to the operation of betting platforms. Depending on your personal preference, you can choose between a fractional (British), American or decimal (fractional) odds system. This option serves as a tool for calculating the possible profit of each bet. It is important to remember that the quotes are subject to change, so you should keep a close eye on their development.


How Do I Calculate the Implied Probability from Decimal Odds?

Multiply the coefficient by the stake, e.g. 150 USD × 2.4 = 360 USD.

Can I Make Consistent Profits from Sports Betting?

Theoretically, yes, but it requires an ability to analyse and predict results, an understanding of the specifics of the discipline.

Are All Betting Markets Equally Profitable?

No, not all betting markets are equally profitable. Their profitability varies depending on the sport, the specific event, the strategy and the player’s knowledge.

How Can I Avoid Emotional Decision-Making in Betting?

Use one of the working betting strategies and stay the course. It is useful to set betting limits and not spend more on predictions than you are prepared to lose.

Where Can I Find Reliable Information for My Betting Analysis?

Such information is published on specialised websites and forums, and on the blogs of professional analysts. Use verified sources and analyse the data to get the full picture.

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