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Sports betting Basics

Your First Steps Into The World of Successful Betting - Sports Betting Guide

One of the biggest mistakes bettors can make is skipping the sports betting basics. This is why we have created this page, where you can find important betting basics and steps into the world of successful betting.

What is betting?

Betting is the activity of placing wagers on the events with two or more possible outcomes. Betting happens usually as an agreement between two parties. The party that made a correct prediction about an uncertain outcome wins the prize based on wager and the risk(chance). And the party that made an incorrect prediction will forfeit something to the other (to the winning party).

List of Valuable Sports Betting Basics for Beginners

Based on conversations with sports bettors for more than 20 years, we found common mistakes many bettors make. This is why we filtered and pointed out some valuable bet basics that are very important to understand.

Best sports bettors are brilliant at the basics

Here’s an introduction to sports betting basics and your first steps into how to bet on sports.

Table of contents

Use the links bellow to jump to each section

How do you start sports betting?

  • First Step – Learn the basics of betting. Sports betting basics include understanding how betting odds work, different bet types and basic math behind betting. This will save you a lot of time, money, and energy later.
  • Second StepSet up a bankroll or a budget. Save some money, you can afford to lose and lock it for some time.
  • Third Step – Research available sports and betting markets. Pick one that’s fit for your skills, knowledge and experience.
  • Fourth Step – Join online betting site, sportsbook or a bookmaker.
  • Fifth Step – Set up your money management and financial goals. Always bet single bets and always bet only small % of your bankroll on games. Professionals recommend around 1% per game with different variations.
  • Sixth Step – Re-invest profits and build bigger bankrolls, until you make enough.

Bet types explained

If you are looking to find what are the most popular bet types, you are in the right place, because we have created this page to explain this here.

This guide will explain and provide examples of how these bet types work.

What is a bet type?

Bet type is a category of bets that have common characteristics and rules. This means predicting the outcomes and placing wagers that allow them to belong to the same group.

Example: NFL moneyline and MLB moneyline have the same characteristics, while NFL spread betting and NFL moneyline betting have not.

Moneyline betting

Moneyline is one of the most popular bet types. Often called also a straight bet, where you’re betting on one team, one player, or in general on one side to win a game or contest.

Example: We have a game between Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens.

Bookmakers offered odds:

STEELERS+130

RAVENS-150

If you decide to bet on Steelers (in this example), then your bet $100 to win $130.

If you decide to bet on Ravens (in this example), then you must bet $150 to win $100.

Plus sign (Steelers +130) always shows an underdog. The underdog in betting is a team, that has been given less chance than the other side. In an event with two possible outcomes, this refers to a winning percentage of less than 50%.

The minus sign (Ravens -150) always shows a favorite. The favorite is aside, that has been given a better chance to win. In an event with two possible outcomes, this refers to a winning percentage of less than 50%.

What if both teams have a 50% chance of winning?

In this case, the Moneyline would look like this:

Reavens-110

Steelers-110

Both numbers are the same. The bigger deviation from the number 100, the bigger margin (juice, vig, vigorish) bookmaker take.

Point Spread Betting

Point spread betting is very popular in sports with more points scored. Like NBA, NFL, NCAAF, NCAAB, and all other basketball leagues.

In some cases, we have huge favorites and because there are many points scored, where the point spread difference can be much bigger (for example 10 points or more), bookmakers offer us point spread betting.

That means, that they add intentionally points to the weaker team.

Example:

STEELERS +7.5 (-110)

RAVENS -7.5 (-110)

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Points spread explained in a real-life example:

Imagine that you play basketball with your son or younger brother. And because he is still a kid and you want that the game is more interesting (read: the possible outcome = close to 50-50) you give him 10 points before you start.

And let’s say you play basketball until you reach 21 points. And from the start, he was added by 10 points to make the game more interesting. Or if you like more interesting = balancing the chances of the outcome that can be close to 50% vs 50%.

Points spread bet type is a new subject

Once we add these points to one team, we have completely new “sides”. We don’t have anymore Steelers vs Ravens, but we have everything that you see in the brackets. You can imagine as we have two completely new subjects. We are not interested anymore if Ravens or Steelers win, but by how many they win (or lose) with added points.

The bookmakers always tend to balance and set these points spreads so, that is close to the outcomes with 50% vs 50% chance.

  • [Steelers +7.5 ]
  • [Ravens -7.5 ]

We have now uniqe new sides. From now on we focus on everything that is in [].

Points spread and the odds

With every point spread, we also must see the following odds. This is what we pay and this is what we can potentially win.

  • [Steelers +7.5 ] -110
  • [Ravens -7.5 ] -110

Points Spread Betting Example Explained

  • STEELERS +7.5 (-110)
  • RAVENS -7.5 (-110)

If you bet on Steelers +7.5, your $110 bet will be a success and you make s profit of $100 if Steelers win or lose by less than 7 points.

If you bet on Ravens -7.5, your $110 bet will be a success and you make a profit of $100 if Steelers win or lose by less than 7 points.

Other variations of point spread betting

  • STEELERS +7 (-110) – you win if Steelers win or lose by less than 7 points. If they lose by exactly 7 points, your money will be returned to your account (bet void, push)
  • Red Sox -1.5 (-110) – In MLB and NHL most of the point spreads are around 1.5 point (run/goal) difference. We call them puck lines and run lines. The odds that come with the represent the probability for -1.5 and +1.5 to cover. 
  • STEELERS pk – is basically bet on STEELERS. If they win, you win.
  • STEELERS +0 – is basically a bet on STEELERS to win the game.

There are other variations of point spreads that we call Asian handicaps, that is very popular in the Soccer market. Check them below.

Asian Handicaps Explained

Asian handicaps are very similar to point spreads, where we don’t bet exactly on the side, but on the side with some added points and some rules.

There are many variations of Asian Handicaps and it is very popular especially among soccer bettors.

Every Asian handicap comes with the odds – example:

  • [Barcelona -0.25 ] -110 
  • [Real Madrid +0.25] -110 

Asian Handicap table: Here is the table of Asian handicap variations from 0 to 1.

Asian handicap table

Over/Under Betting

Over / Under bets also called total points betting is not betting on the outcome of the game or any spread variations, but focusing on points that will be scored in that game.

Example: We have a game between Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. Instead of focusing on which team will win (or cover the spread), we simply focus on what is happening with the points in this game.

Bookmakers over/under offer example

  • [Over 45.5 ] 
  • [Under 45.5] 

We are betting on the total points, where we “try to predict” if in this game will be scored more than 45 points or less.

If you bet Over 45.5, then the total of all points must be more than 45. in our case (you bet OVER 45.5):

  • [Ravens vs Steelers – result: 27-24] BET WIN
  • [Ravens vs Steelers – result: 17-19] BET LOSE 

If the final result of the game is 27-24, the total points in this game is 27+24=51. This is how many points both teams have scored. And because you bet Over 45.5, you won, because it happened more (over) then 45.5 points. It “happened” exactly 51 points which is more than 45.5.

The same logic is used for UNDER BETTING.

Every under/over bet type comes with the odds

Of course, the most important part of the bet is again the price that you pay – the odds. Bookmakers will always offer such bets with the odds.

  • [Over 45.5] -110
  • [Under 45.5] -110

They can also change the odds and adjust the total number:

  • [Over 50.5] +135
  • [Under 50.5] -150

This is why it is always important to see the whole picture.

Live In-Game Bet Types

Live betting allows sports bettors to wager on the games, while they are in play. There is many variations of bets that are offered by bookmakers. Betting on the outcome of the game, where odds change quickly based on the current result when the game is in progress. it can be betting on totals or any other outcome

The concept is the same. They will offer bet type when the game is live and you are betting on that possible outcome (whatever is offered). All these offers come with the following odds and this is the price that you pay.

  • [Bet on the outcome A] +200
  • [Bet on the outcome B] -175

Futures Bets

This is a very popular bet type among bettors, who try to predict the outcome that will happen in the future. This is long-term betting and among the most popular are betting on who will win the Super Bowl, World Series, etc…

All bets will come with the following odds, which are the prices that every bettor should focus. Example:

  • [Steelers to win Super Bowl] +300
  • [Browns to win Super Bowl] +450
  • [Chiefs to win Super Bowl] +700
  • [Ravens to win Super Bowl] +1000

So, let’s say that those are the odds in Week 13 of NFL and you decide to bet on the Steelers to win Super Bowl. Your $100 bet will be profitable if the Steelers win Super Bowl at the end. Your bet and potential profit will be paid after the final game in Super Bowl will be played and only if Steelers (in this case) win Super Bowl.

Futures bets can be for players, teams, politics,… the key is again the price, that will be changing.

Parlay Bets

Parlay bets are very popular among bettors and unfortunately one of the big reasons, why so many bettors lose. Anyway, if you decide to bet parlays and try luck, parlay betting is betting on 2 or more bet selections. All selections must win :

  • [Steelers -7.5] +120
  • [Red Sox ML] +115
  • [NYY vs Giants Over 9.5] +105
  • [Barcelona +0.5] -125

In this case, all selections must win. If only one bet is lost, your parlay is lost. You can combine any bets, teams, over/under bets or anything that bookmakers will allow you to bet and combine. It depends from Sportsbook to Sportsbook, what kind of parlay bets will they offer and how much money they allow you to bet on such parlays.

Other Common Bet Types

The most important thing we must understand is that bet type always comes with the information what this bet type is [EXPLANATION] and following odds. 

The “explanation” is basically a bet type, that is offered. The following odds are implied probabilities of its outcome, which represent the price that you will pay.

It can be anything.

  • [Steelers will play today with blue jerseys] +120
  • [There will be more than 35.530 fans today] +115
  • [It will be at least 30 minutes of rain in this game] +105
  • [Mike Trout will score 3 home runs] -125

Teasers

Betting teasers refers to parlays, where the spread or total has been adjusted in that way that is beneficial for you. Teasers are types of parlays, that allow you take multiple bet selections as a single stake, but are focused on spreads and totals.

Propositions bets

Proposition bets (or prop bets) are popular bets especially in big events and give bettors more fun. Most of the times they are two-sided bets with YES/NO.

  • [Will Yankees score a home run – YES] +105
  • [Will Yankees score a home run – NO-120

Players Propositions bets

Players’ prop bets are bet types, where you can bet on individual statistical categories and players’ individual performances. It can be referred to yards per play, TD, strikeouts, goals scored, points, penalty minutes,… whatever Sportsbooks are willing to offer. The concept is the same again. Bet type with the following price.

Example: How hits will Mike Trout have today

  • [Over 3.5 hits] +105
  • [Under 3.5 hits] -120

Sports, Sports Betting, and Successful Sports Betting

Most people who start betting see the game and try to predict who will win. But there is a big difference between sports, sports betting and the next level, which we all want to reach – successful sports betting.

If this is not clear there is very little chance you will ever see success in Sports Betting.

Sports

When we talk about the sport in a sports betting world, we think about the competition, about the teams and players who compete against each other.

If we talk about the game, players, and if we talk about the results this is just a sport. Nothing else nothing more.

If we try to predict a winner without including the odds and probabilities, this is just a sport and has very little to do with sports betting.

Sports are used as a pool if information and events because it is very popular. Events are every day and this is an opportunity for bookmakers to create liquidity. They need a lot of people to bet and then they can win because of margins.

This is basically the basic business model from them.

The problem is that most sports bettors think that sports betting is about searching for the winners, while in a reality this has nothing to do with the betting.

Sport without probabilities included is just a sport. Nothing else.

Examples of sports (not betting) talk in the sports betting world:

  • “I have a winner”
  • “Steelers ML”
  • “Ravens are lock”
  • “I know the sport, they will win”

This is all just sports talk.

Sports Betting

Once we add probabilities and the odds, we start talking about sports betting. The odds and finding a value is a key.

If there is one thing that can be learned from bookmakers is that they pay huge attention to the odds. They move them, they change them, they even lock bets because of the price. This is so important that they developed the whole system so, that the odds are properly moved and very fast.

It is not about Ravens or about the Pirates or any other team. The focus is on the numbers.

betting numbers - odds

The numbers that you see above are the difference between sports and sports betting.

Many people consider themselves as bettors, but they are just sports fans, who talk about players, about the teams, about the winners, about how the sport is rigged,… I would not even put them into the sports betting category. Most betting groups on Facebook or any other social media are in fact not sports betting groups, but more like sports fan groups.

The Sports betting category starts when we start talking about the odds.

“When talking about the numbers, the odds and the price that you pay is much more important than talking about who will win, only then sports betting starts. “

Sports bettors focus on the price. It can even happen that the same bettor wants to bet on one team, but the price has changed and he will bet on another team.

Such action is almost not possible for sports fans, who pick a winner without even considering what is the price they are paying.

Understanding this difference between sports and sports betting is a very very good start.

The only problem is that even if we understand that the odds are important, not just picking a winner, this still doesn’t make us winning bettors.

Only around 3% of all bettors make a profit in the World. And the question is here how many win because of luck and how many are really skilled bettors.

What makes them different?

Successful Sports Betting

Successful betting is much more complex and it requires a lot of knowledge, experience, patience, and a lot of sacrifices, whether we like it or not.

Successful sports betting can be quickly summarized in 4 steps:

  • Finding a value (the difference between your discovered price and bookmakers price)
  • Beating the closing line and their margins
  • Building/Having a bankroll
  • Flexibility and process of learning, adjusting and improving

Successful sports betting has much more with the math, investing, the right mindset, than about the knowledge or love for sports.

Different locations, different methods, similar concepts

Successful betting in the final stage is how you can beat the line and where and how you can bet. We live in different locations, we can use different bookmakers, sportsbooks, betting exchanges, etc.. In some countries betting is prohibited, in some countries the government has a monopoly over gambling and they offer awful odds and big margins,…

Successful betting doesn’t necessarily mean, that you must make 6 figures betting, it can be just a side hustle.

But the concept is pretty the same.

Sports betting is a market, where you must be better than others. You are not really betting against bookmakers, but against other bettors as well. And this requires a lot of skills based on your location and abilities.

It requires personal development skills, mathematical skills, investment skills, sports betting models and algorithms, flexibility in the market and ability to adjust, ability to recognize if you lose your edge and adjusting the method, tracking your bets, building a bankroll, re-investing profits, and many other things.

To be among 3% in the World that win requires a lot of work and a lot of effort. Sports betting is a (learning) process, that never ends.

Tips on how to be successful in sports betting

  • Learn about money and investments
  • Learn math and statistics
  • Build betting models and always look for value
  • Beat the closing line
  • Recognize new markets and opportunities
  • Recognize if you lose the edge and adjust accordingly
  • Meditate to stay calm and make better decisions
  • Re-invest profits and never rely only on one income stream.

Is it good to bet parlays?

No, because with parlay bets we put more games on a ticket, and with that bookmaker’s margins multiply and are harder to beat. The math is against you because betting margins (juice, vig) is the bookmaker’s advantage and the main reason why they win.

Parlays are very popular among bettors. It is a bet type, where you can put more selections on one bet ticket and with one stake these odds multiply.

On the first look, it looks great, because you can win a lot of money if you bet only $10 or even less. Players love it and bookmakers love parlays even more. The winner in the race between them is obvious.

I want to explain here, why you should never play parlays and why professional bettors don’t rely on parlays.

Parlay Betting Explained: Why bookmakers make money – what is their model?

To understand parlays, we must first understand why bookmakers win. They win because they create the edge with the margins.

Let’s take an example:

We have Team A and Team B and let’s say we have an equal game (50% vs 50% chance)

What would be the fair odds?

  • Team A fair odds = 1/0.5 = 2.00 (American odds = +100)
  • Team A fair odds = 1/0.5 = 2.00 (American odds = +100)

Bookmakers will lower the odds

But we will never get these odds, because bookmakers will add some margins or their commission if you like.

They will offer us something like:

  • Team A fair odds = 1.91 (American odds = -110)
  • Team A fair odds = 1.91 (American odds = -110)

The odds of 2.00 (+100) would pay you $100 for every $100, but because they lowered them (added margins), your $100 invested will return only $91.

With this single bet, you lose $9, which is 9% less than you should normally get if the odds would be fair.

Let’s see what happens if you bet single, double (two bet elections), treble (three-bet selections),… 10 bet selections. And how much money you lose.

parlay bet calculator
How much do we lose if we bet parlays?

If you bet for fun, parlays are amazing, because you can watch games and have fun with your friends while waiting for the last game.

But if you want to take the next step in sports betting and if you want to improve your chances you must stick to single bets.

Things to avoid in sports betting

  • Betting money you can not afford to lose. Never bet the money you need for a living. Sports betting is still a speculative business, where both luck and skill are involved.
  • Paying for the picks. Most bettors don’t have the edge against the market and most sports handicappers make money by selling picks, not by actual betting. If you just start betting, you don’t have the knowledge and ability to identify them. And no, it is not profit or ROI. It is much more complex.
  • Follow free sports picks on social media and chat groups. The logic is the same as above. I will just add here, that in a dynamic betting world, where the price and the timing is very important following is worthless. professional bettors don’t follow. They connect and share valuable information and bet the right price at the right time. No one seriously looks for some sports handicappers on Twitter and followed them.
  • Buying sports betting systems. There is no system that will work forever. It is crucial that you learn how to build a system or a betting model. This gives you more flexibility and the best and most optimal way how to win.
  • Focusing on a short period of time. You either go seriously into betting and have long term focus. Take the first year just to learn. Bet small and invest the rest of the resources (time, money effort) for your knowledge. This will save you a lot of time later.
  • Skiping basics and the numbers. Focus on the value and betting models. If you don’t use numbers, find a way how to use them. Either you start with free sites, where you can learn about statistics like edx.org or you can check betting courses that specialize in this. No matter how you decide to start, you will need to start using the numbers. This also takes a lot of time and effort. So better start early.
  • Being unrealistic or even illusional. Self-awareness is very important. Sports betting is not for everyone. sports betting has much more to do with math and statistics than sports alone. We know that most people in the world don’t love numbers and math. But in this case, we must see this and don’t live in the illusion, that we will be successful in the area, where the numbers are almost everything. It won’t happen. No need to be a math genius, but you should definitely not hate math and numbers. If you decide to bet, the numbers will be in your head 24/7.
  • Skiping basic money and investment education. I see constantly people who struggle with money and they bet. The first thing before we start betting is that we set our personal finance strategy and investments. It is recommended, that you also have other investments and sports betting is just one of many. But definitely, we are working in the space of money and investment and you should get the basic knowledge about this too. One very basic book, that helped many to change their perspective about money is Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Robert Kiyosaki. You can start with this one and it will lead you to other great books.
  • Watching games. It is a very practical and also provocative sports betting tip that I like to give to new bettors. Unless you bet live watching games is waste of time for you. Watching games is basically only one way how to collect the data, but you can find the data on the internet anyway and better spend this time learning about betting. Imagine that we have 2 bettors. One bettor spends 10 hours per week watching games and the other bettor spends this time on sports betting education. In one year this is 520 hours of difference and 520 hours of difference in betting skill. This is a huge difference.
  • Waiting until kick-off. The odds just before the games will start are called closing odds. In theory, you can not beat them and you will lose because of margins. Try to bet early and catch the lines if they go with you. Example: You bet Lakers +7, the closing spread is Lakers +4. You did a good job.
  • Ignoring the tracking of bets. If you want to take sports betting seriously, you must track your performance. Every serious business tracks performance and we should start looking at our betting as a business.
  • Attacking big markets like NFL or NBA. If you are in the process of learning sports betting basics go with smaller markets first. In sports betting you are not trying to beat (only) bookmakers, but also other sports bettors. In markets like the NFL, where the liquidity is big and where there is a lot of money involved you are going directly against the big players. Don’t do it. Try to find weaker betting markets and try to bet there. Make a profit, grow, learn and you can move there later. This is one of the big mistakes new rookie sports bettors make because they want to bet what they love, nowhere they could have intentionally the advantage.
  • Not understanidn the importance of personal development and meditation. You are going into the World of betting, where you will need to make daily decisions and risk money, that can be lost even if you will have the edge. There will be bad days, months, and even seasons. It is very important to stay calm in these days and take rational decisions. Personal development and meditation will give you an edge against others. You can start with the book – Eckhart Tole (The Power of Now)
  • Not reading, or constantly improving. Successful sports betting is not something you will learn today and you will know forever. Sports betting is changing all the time. The market is sharper and smarter, the technology and algorithms are better. You must love the betting process and grow with it.
  • Focusing on betting winners and emotion-driven decisions. No matter how sure you are always remember that every time you bet, bookmakers are betting against you, but with better odds. Because they are betting against you the bet will happen. Don’t be overconfident and think you have a winner based on your feeling. Because you don’t have it. Maybe it will work sometimes, but you will lose almost for sure on the long run. This is definitely not an optimal way and this is definitely something you should not ignore in the fundamentals of betting.

Best Bettors and their journey

Every sports bettor has its own journey in the sports betting World, but we can split this journey into four stages (read more in this article):

Relative skill against the competition

Bookie killers, the World’s best Handicappers who take money from sportsbooks, Bookie Hunters, Bookie Bashers,.. all kind of crazy things we can hear.

But the reality is that you are not fighting bookmakers, but other bettors or the market if you like.

Sports betting is always a relative skill against the competition. Bookmakers create the edge with the margins and they move the lines because they balance the money involved. They simply want to balance bets on both sides.

A very simple example:

  • $1 million bets on Patriots -7.5 (-110)
  • $1 million bets on Steelers +7.5 (-110)

Patriots -7.5 cover, bookmakers must pay $910,000 to Patriots bettors, but they take $1 million from Steelers bettors. They don’t care if the Patriots win or the Steelers win. They care much more about balancing the money, how to identify sharp sports bettors and move the line properly. They will make money either way.

We are not really fighting against them, but we try to be better than other bettors. It is a relative skill against the betting competition.

How Betting Odds Work

Betting odds always represent the probability of an event to happen and they represent the prices on the market. This is why betting odds is crucial information and will tell you how much money you will win if your bet wins.

If you are going to start betting, gambling at a casino, playing Black Jack, poker, sports betting, or any other type, it’s important to understand the basics of odds. In our case, we will focus on sports betting fundamentals and a quick guide to different odds.

If you can not read the betting odds, you can not expect to win long term.

Betting Odds Explained in a Spreadsheet

The concept of betting odds is pretty simple

The concept of betting odds is the same for all kinds of different types of odds. They all represent the price on the market that you will pay. They also represent the implied probabilities of possible outcomes.

If you bet on an outcome, where the chance is more likely to happen your invested money will return less profit (less risk – less profit, makes sense). And vice versa.

We have different odds formats and here are the most popular. You can decide which one you like and you can also easily turn one decimal format into another.

It is up to every bettor which betting odds format will use, most bookmakers and sportsbooks offer at least 3 betting odds formats (American odds, Decimal odds, and Fractional odds). I personally use decimal odds, because they are for me most simple. But this is not the rule or recommendation of what you should use. You can use the format that you like the most. What is more important is that you understand how they work and how you can calculate probabilities from them.

Decimal Betting Odds

Decimal odds are very popular in Europe and Australia. You can easily identify favorites and underdogs.

  • [favourites] the smaller number 
  • [underdogs] bigger number

Total return calculation of your wager if very simple:

[Total Payout = Stake x Decimal Odds]

Example: Let’s say we have Red Sox that have 60% of chance and Yankees that have 40% to with this particular game in our example.

First, we can calculate the odds from probabilities:

  • [Red Sox 60%] -> 1/0.6 = 1.67
  • [Yankees 40%] -> 1/0.4 = 2.50

1.67 and 2.50 represent the odds. Bookmakers will lower these odds a little bit because of their margins (vig, juice) and it will more likely look something like 1.60 for Red Sox and 2.40 for Yankees.

  • [Red Sox 60%] -> turns into (example) = 1.60
  • [Yankees 40%] -> turns into (example) = 2.40

And these are the prices that you will pay.

If you decide to bet $100 on Red Sox, simply multiply $100 with 1.60.

  • [Total Payout] $100*1.60 = $160
  • [Profit] $100*1.60 -$100 = $60

American Betting Odds

American odds are very popular in the USA and the odds with minus (-) sign are favorites, where it tells you how much you must bet to win $100. Plus (+) odds are underdogs, where it will tell you how much you win for every $100 bet.

  • [Red Sox +130] – bet $100 to win $130
  • [Red Sox -130] – bet $130 to win $100

You can use these formulas in a betting spreadsheet or in excel to turn American odds to decimal:

=IFS(A<100,(abs(100/A))+1,A>100,(A/100)+1,A=100, 2, A=–100, 2)

Where A is American odds (example: -130 or +145)

Fractional (UK) odds

Fractional odds are very popular among UK bettors and their bookmakers. They come with (/) sign or (-) sign, where they represent the ratio of the amount won to the initial wager.

Example:

  • [5/1] – five to one means, that you win $5 against every your $1 bet.

Total Payout in our case = [Stake * (5/1)] + Stake

Which odds format is the best for you?

It is up to you which odds format will you use. I personally prefer decimal, but this is not a rule and if you like some other format simply use it. It is much more important that you learn the differences and how they work.

There are also some less known odds formats like Hong Kong odds, Indo odds, and Malay odds formats, but the basic concept is the same.

They all represent the probabilities and the prices on the market. The most important question is how to find the value, which is the difference between your discovered price (estimated, projected odds) compared to bookies’ implied probabilities.