Betting odds are used by bookmakers to determine the likelihood of a given outcome in a sporting event. The odds quoted determine the probability of a particular outcome occurring in any sporting event. Betting odds also allow punters (the person making the bet) to determine the expected return on their stake should the predicted outcome become a reality.

Here are some of the key terms to note before starting to bet.

  • Stake – this is the amount you decide to wager on your bet.
  • Odds – this is the ‘price’ you agree to stake your bet at.
  • Payout – this shows the expected return on your bet, if you are successful.


betting odds and probabilityProbability reflects the likelihood of any given event happening. Betting odds are designed to do the same thing. The odds displayed on all sporting events on bookmaker site reflect the probability or ‘chances’ of each event they refer to happening.

An outcome at short odds is deemed very likely to happen, while those at longer odds are less likely to become true. Of course, it is important to point out that while probability in mathematics can be worked out scientifically, sport is something entirely different.


probability exampleThe reason we love to bet on sport is that the outcomes are not decided on any formula and the unpredictable nature of sport means that when you back something at long odds, it can still happen even if the odds are implying it is improbable. Equally, backing something at short odds with a potentially high probability does not guarantee it will become true.

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As we have suggested, bookmakers use odds to display the probability or otherwise of all outcomes on sporting events. They can do this in one of three ways: fractional e.g. 2/1, decimal e.g. 3.00 or American e.g. +200.

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