Understand the Odds and Thrive in Betting

You love sports, and that shows in your precise predictions ahead of the magical NHL Sundays. But how could you turn this into moneymaking?

It’s likely that you’ve tried your luck at least once and smashed three of the hottest matches on your bet slip. Your hunches were mainly correct, only to miss by a small margin and fail on a single bet slip leg.

What could have been the issue? We bet that you need to familiarize yourself with how odds work.

Read on and get initiated into the world of sports probabilities.

What are betting odds?

Sports betting odds are equivalent to the probability of a particular outcome panning out. They are expressed in multiple ways, but it all boils down to a number implying what you could win if your desired outcome happens.

Can odds be falsified?

Some Canadian bettors are rightly worried that the odds they see on an online sportsbook may not reflect reality. That is especially the case with unlicensed sportsbooks.

Any bookie will charge a specific amount from each bet, reflected in the odds. If you calculate implied probability for the two or three outcomes of a sports match, you’ll see that they add up to more than 100%.

What’s over this 100% figure is called ‘vigorish’. This percentual amount is how sports betting operators make money out of each bet.

Online sportsbooks have to adhere to a set of rules imposed by their licenser. These include limiting the vigorish to a reasonable degree.

Illegal bookies are not licensed. Therefore, they will not take such measures, leading to false odds in many cases. You should read this to convince yourself that illegal sports betting sites may do more harm than falsify odds. Your personal data may be at risk, and your money may go down the drain.

We’ll explain how to calculate your own odds. But first, we need to get you familiarized with how each type of sports betting odds works.

How many types of betting odds are there?

Sports betting odds work on a similar pattern. However, they are displayed in three ways by sportsbooks:

  • Fractional
  • Decimal
  • Moneyline

Let’s unpack each with some examples to help you get a grasp of how they work.

Fractional odds

Fractional is the style most prevalent in the UK and Ireland. It’s shown as a fraction, say 9/4 or 2/3.

You could interpret them as pertaining to the outcome of the sports match itself. In that case, fractional odds are the number of situations in which a result is supposed not to happen (left number) versus the number of times it would happen (right number).

Or, you could understand them as having to do with the money you win versus the money you stake. This is how most bettors see them, ingenuously expecting a payout.

Real-life example

We should untangle the mystery of fractional odds with a real-life example.

Let’s say you’re in a UK pub, watching a soccer match between Manchester City and Everton. Since City are playing home and do it really well, you feel they have a solid chance to win. So, you get online and search for a bookie. You log into your account and see odds displayed in the following manner:

  • Manchester City to win: 4/25
  • Draw: 15/2
  • Everton to win: 35/2

What do you make out of these numbers?

Your fractional odds payout

We apply the scheme presented earlier. You opted for Manchester City to win, and you’re up to invest 100 quid in it happening. To see how much you would win, you must multiply your stake by the left number and divide the result by the right number.

So, we have (£100 x 4) / 25 = £16. That’s your net profit if City wins. Of course, you also receive your stake back.

Conversely, should you have happened to be a diehard Everton fan, your potential payout would look like this:

(£100 x 35) / 2 = £1750 net profits.

The massive difference between payouts reflects the significant probability difference associated with the outcomes happening.


Betting with decimal odds is frankly the most straightforward. Commonly used in Europe, they are also called continental odds or digital odds. Bettors around the world prefer them for simplicity.

This type is expressed as a decimal number, which tells you how much you would win for every unit staked.

How do decimal odds work?

So, let’s suppose your unit is the C$1. You’re now in Canada, and you want to place a wager on an NHL confrontation between Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators.

The teams are priced as follows:

  • Boston Bruins to win: 1.50
  • Draw: 4.90
  • Ottawa Senators to win: 5.50

Your decimal odds payout

To determine how much you would win by placing a wager on either outcome, multiply your stake to the odd. So, if you’ll back the Boston Bruins, hot favourites at this event, and your team win, you will get 1.5x your stake.

For a C$100 bet, that would mean getting back £150, out of which $50 is your net profit.


Moneyline odds are the most confusing for newcomers in the betting realm. They’re also called American odds and are most commonly used in the United States.

Favourites are shown with a negative number, while a positive number signifies the underdog. Numbers are in the order of hundreds.

Going in-depth with an example

Let’s say you’re about to wager on an NBA derby. The Memphis Grizzlies take on the Vancouver Raptors.

Odds look a bit like this:

  • Memphis Grizzlies to win: -200
  • Raptors to win: +165

Your potential payout

Supposing you bet on the favourite at -200, that means you would generate a C$100 profit with a C$200 wager. It’s the same thing as a 1.5 decimal odd or a 1/2 fractional odd.

Conversely, should you wager C$100 on the underdogs, priced at +165, you would generate a C$165 profit.

How can you come up with your own odds?

The next step on your journey to betting success is decoding the actual odds behind those offered by the house.

The critical difference between odds and probability is that odds are defined as the positive expectation of a thing to happen divided by the expectation of it not happening.

With this definition, you can create your odds.

Find a way to determine the number of positive outcomes and negative ones. For example, check the Head-to-Head history between two teams to see which has won more often.


Understand implied probability. There are many useful tools online to calculate implied probability, but it’s not such a difficult task.

Let’s say you analyze a hockey match, and you see the Montreal Canadiens have won 5 of their last 10 games at home versus the Calgary Flames. They’ve also drawn 3 times, and the away team has won twice.

You need to convert the 5 out of 10 times the Canadiens have won into a percentage, obviously 50%. Now, to find a decimal odd, you need to divide 100 by the ratio obtained. Thus, you get a 2.00 odd.

Applying the same strategy will yield you odds for any possible outcome of a sports match. Still, you must consider several other factors to come up with accurate odds, like likelihood ratio, sensitivity and specificity values. But it’s an excellent place to start.

Now you have a basic knowledge of sports betting odds. This will serve you as a basis to build upon. The realm of betting is vast and cannot be captured in a short article. Still, we trust you’ve now got an understanding of how odds work and how they are distinct but also profoundly connected to probabilities.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here