Understanding Odds and Probability

odds and probability

The world of gaming and betting can be very complicated and uncertain; understanding the terminology and the way the system works is one way to ensure that you are on the top of your game. There’s nothing as embarrassing as a conversation where someone mentions the odds and you don’t understand them. This article provides a basic guide to understand the complicated world of odds.

It’s all About the Probability

The use of odds to predict a result or the chances of an event occurring is a means of creating an illusion of mathematical certainty out of incredible uncertainty. Probability is a concept first recorded in the 1590s and was a way of giving allowances to the weaker side in a contest. It was used to denote the chance of a particular result.

In more recent times, the term has come to be used in determining a pay out in the sense that an amount is redeemed by the player based on the odds, such as with PA betting odds. The aim is to be able to use the odds to predict or understand the likelihood of an event taking place.

The main forms of stating these odds are:

  • Fractional – this is the ratio of the return to the stake, and is expressed as 10/1. So, for every 1 staked you stand you’d be returned 10. Odds can be expressed as different rations, such as 7/2. It’s basically ratios from the days of school maths, but it’s important to know how to read the odds so you understand what’s at stake.
  • Decimal odds are a much easier way of reading and understanding odds and are presented as a decimal number, so 3.2 or 4.5 and the easiest way to calculate them is  to multiply the decimal number by your initial stake. So, an initial stake of 1 will return 4.5 and the initial stake will be included in the return.
  • Money line, this presents the probability of a win across a continuous line with a minus (-) used to present the odds for favorites and positive or plus sign (+) used to show the underdogs. The number after the symbol then shows how much will be returned.

Odds must be understood to be able to play against them. They also help with being able to predict events and occurrences. The worse the odds are, the less likely the event occurring, as per the analysis of those who set the odds. Obviously, there are always occasions when against the odds a result is achieved which is unexpected. It’s the bookmakers who set the odds and determine the probability of your selection coming out top, winning the fight or any other contest that is in the offing.

Odds and probability are a simple enough concept to grasp, and it must be remembered that they are set and determined using a great deal of previous performance and historical occurrences of similar results or events. They are thus quite subjective, but when used in sports they aim to provide a means to predict a winner.

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Having worked in the marketing department at two online sports betting sites, John brings his love of sports to serve BigOnSports as chief writer. He will be researching and writing about the sports betting community to improve your experience as a sports bettor.