Understanding Betting Odds

All bettors can be divided into two categories: recreational players and those who want to win in the long run. Of course, if you bet just for fun, there is no need to dig deep and try to understand all the subtleties of betting. But if you aspire to become a professional punter or get regular income from betting, you will have to take it more seriously. Betting, like any other ways to make money requires certain knowledge and skills. Ultimately, gambling can become a real art of making money and at this stage you will get an ‘understanding’ of betting! The first and most important step for a profitable punter is to understand the odds. You may say that everyone knows what the odds are, but a true question is whether everyone can really understand what the odds are? Do you think that an intimate knowledge of the sport is the key to successful betting? This is far from the truth, otherwise all sportspeople would be successful bettors, however as we know this is not true at all! A player who understands how a bookmaker calculates odds has more chances to make money than a player who is well experienced in the sport. You may read the odds, but do not understand their true meaning. In the following articles we will try to explain how ‘understanding of odds’ can become a basis for successful and profitable betting. Let’s begin from the top and step by step we will explain why bookmaker odds are just a betting tool for bet selecting and why they have nothing in common with a true probability of any outcome. Still think that bookmaker odds reflect real chances of rivals? Forget about this myth!

Odds are one of the important aspects of betting and you must understand how to use them if you want to become a winning punter. Bookmaker’s odds are a double edged sword. On the one hand odds tell you how much money you will win! On the other hand odds tell you how likely a specific event is to happen – they reflect the true likelihood of an event. But can any of us, including a bookmaker, predict the future? Even a bookmaker can be wrong. But if a bookmaker gives wrong odds it will lose profit! Everyone knows that a bookmaker is simply incapable of incurring losses, because betting margins make its profit. Whatever the outcome of the match is a bookmaker will simply earn some percentage of the total number of bets placed on this match, right? So, it’s very simple – bookmakers make a profit by accepting bets and adjusting odds to take bets in the right proportion to secure a profit regardless of the outcome.

Let us illustrate the above ideas by a simple example. There is a game between two contestants and their chances of winning are absolutely equal. A bookmaker has to offer even odds 1.90 – 1.90, which reflect true probabilities. But what if bettors placed ₤1000 on the first contestant, ₤500 on the second and the first contestant would win? Then a bookmaker will have to pay ₤1900, but he has only ₤500! No doubt a bookmaker cannot permit such a situation and has to change the odds to 1.50 – 2.00, otherwise it will incur losses. What can we conclude from this? It is very simple – odds do not reflect the true probability, they reflect the proportion of bets taken on this event. You will be very surprised, but it’s more complicated in a real life, because even proportions of bets do not reflect odds movement! How can it be? You will receive all answers in another article in this series.

The odds offered by bookmakers actually do not reflect the true probabilities!

To properly understand how a bookmaker offers the odds, what betting margins are and how to use the odds value, read the following articles and soon you will understand – a bookmaker is not a middleman between bettors who is seeking to make profit for offering its services, a bookmaker is the same player as you are, only much more cunning and insidious!

First of all, in the next article ‘Betting odds explained’ you will learn what kinds of odds exist, how to calculate the winnings, how to convert each odds format from one to another and other useful information. In the article ‘What are bookmaker’s margins’ we will tell everything you need to know about margins, teach you how to calculate the probability of outcomes. All secrets of bookmakers and other surprises are waiting for you in the article ‘How to beat bookmakers’ odds’. There you will learn the truth about the odds and how bookies fool the players, but don’t worry we will teach you to read between the (betting) lines!

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