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Betting Odds Beginners Guide

Many amateur gaming enthusiasts in Ghana find betting odds confusing. You have come to the right place if you are one of these individuals since this post covers everything you need to know to understand betting odds. 

In addition to highlighting everything you need to know about odds, this post will also teach you how to read odds. Lastly, you will find answers to frequently asked questions on odds. Without further ado, let’s dive in.

One of the most popular questions in the online gaming scene is, “how do odds work?” Unfortunately, some players don’t understand how odds work, and this is the reason why these players can’t follow and use odd movements to make informed betting decisions. 

All gamers should have an excellent understanding of odds and how to calculate them. For this reason, it will be best to take the time to learn and understand how odds work. Newbies might not know this, but there are two things you can learn from an event’s odds. First, you can learn about your bet’s chance of winning from the bookmaker’s perspective. Second, you will also learn how much you stand to win if your bet is a winner. 

You might have heard people say a lot of things about odds, including how they are confusing. For that reason, it will help if you stick around and read this post to the end, as it will help you gain a holistic understanding of betting odds. 

Betting Odds Explained

Bookmakers compile betting odds to highlight what they believe is the likelihood of a specific event happening. There are three types of odds; fractional, decimal, and American. 

Gaming operators represent fractional odds using fractions. For instance, you might come across Real Madrid’s odds in a Champions League Finals represented as (2/1). Alternatively, another bookmaker can represent Real Madrid’s odds in a Champions League Final using decimals. When this happens, you will not find the odds represented as a fraction (2/1). Instead, the bookmaker will present it as a decimal (3.0). Note that the odds (2/1) and (3.0) are identical since they represent the same chances, but you’ll discover more on this later. 

Bookmakers represent American odds, aka moneyline odds, using a number with the plus and minus sign—for instance, Real Madrid +200. 

iGaming operators use betting odds on any event they feature in their sportsbooks. Some of these events include; horse racing, motor GP, football, NHL, basketball, politics, TV specials, and more. 

What Is the Purpose of Betting Odds?

You can tell three things after checking out an event’s odds. First, you can tell which of the two teams is more likely to win the duel. Second, you can tell the number of gaming operators who believe the favorite will win. Lastly, you can determine how much you stand to gain if your bet is a winner. 

Essentially, betting odds are there to help you make informed betting decisions. However, it’s best to remember that betting odds only represent the bookmaker’s opinion which they arrive at using complex algorithms that handle probability calculations. 

What Betting Odds Formats Are There?

As earlier highlighted, there are three main odds formats. You can opt to have your preferred casino display its odds using fractions, decimals, or the American moneyline. These odds can appeal to you equally if you are well-versed with all of them. In contrast, you might opt for a specific odds format, especially if you prefer it over other odds formats. 

More bookies are allowing players to toggle between different odds formats. As a result, you can always shift to your desired odds format if it is not the default format in your go-to gaming platform.

Yes, it is true. All bets have implied probabilities. Nevertheless, it will help to remember that every online betting platform adds something known as the “vig,” “cut,” or “juice” to every event available for real money betting. 

The “vig” is the fee you pay on each bet you wager on iGaming platforms. You might not know this, but the “vig ensures online betting platforms profit from their bookmaking business. So, always remember that fact when calculating potential profits on your bets.  

Understanding Probability in Online Betting

Simply put, probability is the likelihood of something (an event) occurring. If a bookie has an outcome to an event boasting a high probability, then that outcome is more likely than not to happen. Similarly, if an outcome on a bookmaker has a low probability, then there is a likelihood that the event is more likely not to take place than it happening. 

Most gaming operators in the UK and worldwide use fractions to show probability. These fractions would be two integers separated by a forward slash, i.e., Real Madrid (1/2).

Are you still finding it difficult to wrap your head around probabilities? Let’s use a coin toss to demonstrate how probability works. 

There are only two possible outcomes in a coin toss. The coin will either land on either heads or tails. For this reason, the probability of getting a “heads” is one in two chances, which can be represented using the odds (1/1). Remember that a (1/1) chance equals a 50% chance. Therefore, there is a 50/50 chance the outcome of a coin toss will be a “heads.”

Using the example above, you can see how betting enthusiasts can use odds to determine the winning probability of their selected bets.  

American Odds Explained

Numerous world-class gaming destinations accept Ghanaian players. Some of these sites use American Odds. Consequently, getting acquainted with these odds will be best, especially if you can’t change the odds format on your go-to site. 

Betting sites using American odds express them as three-digit numbers with a preceding plus (+) or minus (-) sign. It’s important to note that the plus and minus sign indicates whether you are betting on the favorite or the underdog. American odds also allow players to know how much they need to wager to win $100. 

The plus (+) and minus (–) signs in American Odds: Exploring what these signs mean.

Are you interested in understanding American odds? If so, it will help first to understand the meaning of the plus (+) and minus (-) sign in moneyline odds. 

The (+) sign will help you identify the underdog. If you are betting on Real Madrid to win a Champions League Finals duel (+102) against Liverpool (-121), then you are betting on the underdog to win the duel. 

In contrast, betting on Liverpool, whose odds are (121), means that you are backing the favorites to win the Champions League Finals. Moreover, you are more likely to win if you bet on the favorite, which explains why you need to wager more, i.e., play with $121 to win $100. 

Essentially, that’s all you need to know about moneyline or American odds. While high rollers might be comfortable wagering $100 on a single bet, budget players prefer wagering on the desired events using small stakes. So, stick around to learn how to calculate winnings using your bet amount when playing on sites using American odds.  

How To Calculate Potential Winnings Using American Odds

Let’s start by confirming that the Bet Slip will automatically calculate potential winnings when playing on sites using American odds. As a result, learning how to calculate the potential winnings using American odds is not necessary. Still, it will come in handy, especially when you want to know which calculations run in the background. 

Let’s use the following example:

  • Real Madrid (-300)
  • Barcelona (+250)

In our example, let us bet on both teams, as this will help you understand how the moneyline formula works and how you can use it to calculate potential winnings by yourself. Placing a $20 bet on Real Madrid (-300) will look like this;

  • 300/200 = 20/x

After cross multiplication, we will have;

  • 300x = 2000
  • X = 2000/300
  • X = $6.67

As you can see, if you decide to back Real Madrid on (-300) with a bet worth $20, you will receive $20 + $6.67 or a total or $26.67. 

Alternatively, if you choose to place a $20 on Barcelona (+250), then you will need to change your equation slightly, as shown below:

  • 100/250 = 20/x

After cross multiplication, we will have

  • 100x = 5000
  • x = 5000/100
  • x = $50 

As you can see, your bet will let you enjoy a $50 win. Also, note that you will receive your $20 bet if your bet wins. So, expect a $70 payout if your $20 bet on Barcelona (-250) wins. 

Calculating Implied Probability for American Odds Explained

Gamers will be pleased to learn of the availability of easy-to-use formulas for determining implied probability. Yes, it will be best if players use these formulas when dealing with positive and negative moneyline odds, especially if the players want to know the probability of either outcome happening. Let us use the Real Madrid vs. Barcelona example again.

  • Real Madrid (-300) 
  • Barcelona (+250)

Calculating the Probability for Negative American Odds 

Negative American odds / (negative American odds + 100) * 100 = Implied Probability.

Using the above formula, here is what you need to do when betting on Real Madrid 

300/ (300+100) * 100 = 75.00%

Calculating the Probability for Positive American Odds

Are you dealing with positive moneyline odds? If so, use this formula to calculate the implied probability. 100 / (positive American odds + 100) * 100 = implied probability. Therefore, here is what you need to do when betting on Barcelona (+250).

  • = 100 / (250 + 100) * 100 = implied probability
  • = 100 / 350 * 100 = 28.57%

An understanding of implied probability helps gamers identify valuable real money betting opportunities. For instance, you can use your understanding of implied probability to find out if the bookmakers have underestimated a particular team giving you an opening to earn generous profits. 

Fractional Odds Explained

Many gaming enthusiasts find fractional odds intimidating, but not as American or moneyline odds. Fortunately, the fractional odds are simple to understand. Moreover, the odds are easy to use once you get a hang of how they work. Below is an example of fractional odds

  • Real Madrid: 33/100
  • Barcelona 5/2

Here’s the secret to exploring or understanding fractional odds. The number on the left tells you how much you will win when you wager the number on the right. Sounds easy, right? 

Now, back to our example. A player must bet $100 to win $33 on the Real Madrid selection. On the other hand, the player must wager $2 to win $5 on the Barcelona selection. So, don’t be surprised that most people prefer fractional odds over decimal or moneyline odds. 

Calculating the Implied Probability for Fractional Odds

Calculating the implied probability for fractional odds will be a walk in the park, even if solving arithmetic problems isn’t your stronghold. Gamers of all experience levels will be pleased to learn that they can arrive at the implied probability for fractional odds using a familiar formula.

Here is an easy way to calculate the implied probability of any event with fractional odds. Let’s start by exploring the bet selection; 

  • Real Madrid  5/2

Looking at the odds above for Real Madrid (Los Blancos or The Whites), the number to the left (5) is the numerator, while the number to the right (2) is a denominator. Using this information, the formula for implied probability for fractional odds will appear like this;

  • Denominator / (denominator + numerator) * 100 = implied probability.

When you translate this for Real Madrid, what you will have is;

  • 2 / (2+5) * 100 = 28.53%

You can use the same formula to determine the implied probability for Barcelona  (33/100). 

  • 100 / (100+33) * 100 = 75.18%

Be on the Lookout for the Draw and Odds

The ”draw” is a common sports outcome. However, remember that some sports don’t have “draws” as possible outcomes—a phenomenon you’ll regularly encounter if you are into American sports. For instance, most matches in the NBA and NFL rarely finish with the exact score for the playing teams. Yes. The matches can end in a draw, but the chances are very slim.

Most draws occur in soccer. Fortunately, these draws result in a “push,” which means that the bookmaker will refund your bet(s). Players interested in avoiding the draw should note that they can calculate the “push’s” implied probability just as they can calculate the implied probability of any other selection. 

As you can see, fractional odds allow players to know their potential winnings relative to their stake on the specific bet. For instance, placing a $1 bet on Real Madrid to beat Barcelona t 4/1 will earn you a $5 payout if the bet is successful ($4 profit plus your $1 stake). As you can see, reading fractional odds is straightforward once you know how to do it.

Decimal Odds Explained

Ghanaian players who like American bookies will be happy to learn that they can convert the complex moneyline odds to easy-to-understand decimal odds. 

Believe it or not, moneyline odds, aka American odds, are similar to decimal odds. Many gaming newbies and veterans find decimal odds appealing since they are easy to understand. Do you remember our Real Madrid (-300) and Barcelona (+250) moneyline odds? Here is what they would look like if you convert them to decimal odds; Real Madrid (1.33) and Barcelona (3.50).

Decimal odds don’t need complex calculations. For this reason, many gamers opt to use decimal odds when playing real money games. The calculations when working with decimal odds are simple and straightforward. 

For instance, decimal odds tell you that for every $1 you bet on Real Madrid at odds of 1.33, expect a win worth $1.33, where $1 is your stake, and $0.33 is the profit. Similarly, every $1 you bet on Barcelona at odds of 3.5 will earn you a $3.50 win, where $1 is your stake while 250 is your profit. Remember that a solid math foundation will help you work with decimal, fractional, and moneyline odds.

Calculating Implied Probability for Decimal Odds

Did you know that the implied probability remains the same irrespective of your preferred odds format? That said, here is the formula for calculating implied probability when working with decimal odds; 100 / decimal odds = implied probability.

Now, let’s use our Real Madrid and Barcelona example. 

The implied probability of a Real Madrid win is 100 / 1.33 = 75.18%, whereas the implied probability of a Barcelona win is 100/ 3.50 = 28.57%. Therefore, gamers should note that a team’s implied probability remains the same whether the platform’s default odds are moneyline, fractional, or decimal.

Sports Betting Vigorish Explained

Are you coming across the term “vig” or “vigorish” for the first time? Simply put, the terms “vig,” “vigorish,” or “juice” all refer to the same thing; house edge. All casinos have a house edge. It’s important to remember that the house edge can vary from one title to the next. For that reason, a betting site might have a lower house edge on sportsbook bets and a higher house edge on its casino section. 

Setting betting lines that attract an equal number of gamers on both sides is a betting site’s primary objective. Once achieved, the betting site earns the house edge from the difference between the money lost by the winning players and money paid out to the winning players. 

It's safe to say that legit online sports betting sites will not be interested in your bets' outcomes. These establishments don’t have to worry about game outcomes since the house edge earns the gaming platforms their desired profits. 

How Do Sportsbooks Calculate the Vigorish or House Edge?

Most if not all online betting sites earn their profits by collecting small commissions on every bet. You will realize that the house edge is always below 5%. Additionally, players are always comfortable and happy to incur a small fee in exchange for a bookmaker’s services. 

Unfortunately, online betting platforms don’t share information about their house edge. Consequently, it takes a little digging to establish an iGaming site’s vigorish. The great news is online betting sites post odds of all events on their platforms, and these odds can provide everything you need to know about the platform’s house edge. 

You can calculate the house edge using small math calculations. Here is the formula that will help you calculate any operator’s house edge.

{Favorite odds/ (Favorite odds + 100) * 100} + {100/ (Underdog odds + 100) * 100} – 100 = Vigorish

Decimal Odds vs. Fractional Odds

Decimal odds vs. fractional odds are almost similar to tomatoes vs. tomatos. Therefore, your region of residence will determine what type of odds is mainstream in gaming establishments within your locality. Nevertheless, neither is better than the other. But this hasn’t stopped most gamers from claiming that decimal odds are easy to understand, hence their steady rise in popularity.

You might not know this, but fractional odds have been the designated odds across the UK and other premiere gaming destinations. Many people who frequent racecourses using fractional odds say that displaying the odds in decimal format will make horse racing accessible to the average gambler. Consequently, more gaming establishments are shifting to decimal odds.

Ease of use aside, the other difference between decimal and fractional odds is the former includes the returned stake while the latter doesn’t. It’s thought that the rise of betting exchanges has played a significant role in the transition from fractional odds to decimal odds. 

Also, note that bookmakers can’t increase or decrease fractional odds marginally without creating large fractions that gamers might find challenging to compute. So, finding decimal odds on many iGaming sites shouldn't be a surprise. 

Can Online Odds Calculators Convert Betting Odds Into Your Preferred Format?

Online betting enthusiasts will be happy to learn of the availability of “Online Odds Calculators.” Newbie and veteran players can use these calculators to convert odds to their preferred formats. Moreover, most odds calculators will also help you know your winning probability as per designated odds. So don’t miss out on the opportunity to use online odds calculators to make informed betting decisions. 

Top 4 Betting Tips for Ghanian Players

Here are four betting tips and tricks for Ghanaian players:

  • Accept Casino Bonuses: Most online betting platforms have regular bonuses for new and existing players. Gaming sites use these bonuses to lure players, given the ever-increasing competitiveness in the iGaming scene. Fortunately, players can use these bonuses and promotions to increase their real money prizes. Moreover, some sportsbook bonuses allow players to enjoy lucrative or prize-boosted odds, especially on popular sporting events
  • Consider Live Bets: Gamers in Ghana can bet on pre-match selections or live bets (if available.) Newbies gamers might not know this, but veteran players use live bets to get better odds on their desired bet selections. For instance, a Real Madrid vs. Barcelona match might have the following odds: Home Win 1.50, Away Win 4.00, and Draw 3.00. The odds for Real Madrid winning might rise to 1.80 if the game has a nil-nil score line after half an hour (30 minutes) of play. As you can see, the decimal odds have increased, and so will your potential winnings. 
  • Have a Bankroll: Amateur players wager on their preferred games using any cash they have around. In contrast, professional gamers wager on their preferred games using a bankroll (a betting budget). For that reason, it will be best if Ghanaian players who want to increase their overall betting success create bankrolls to help them play responsibly. Note that the bankroll is also known as the betting capital.
  • Betting is not a sprint. It is a marathon: Don't try to outdo Usain Bolt or Ferdinand Omanyala when betting at your preferred platform. Betting isn't a sprint. Therefore, avoid chasing huge wins fast. Instead, aim for small, consistent wins, like the world's Bekele's and Kipchoge's. Who knows how much your winnings will be worth if you maintain your winning streak?

Ready To Find the Best Odds out There?

It will be best if gaming newbies and veterans understand how American, fractional, decimal odds work, as this is the sure way to take on the lucrative world of sports betting. Gamers who understand how sports betting odds work are more likely to have a successful betting experience than their counterparts who don’t.

Use the information here to get acquainted with betting odds, especially if you want to make informed betting decisions. It will be best to start with simple bets and then move your way up if you are a novice gamer. Alternatively, you can wager on any betting market as long as you are having fun. With that said, start betting on your favorite games or betting markets.

Online Betting Odds FAQ

Which Sports Have Fixed Odds?
What Does “Betting Odds” Mean?
What Happens When a Player Wagers on Negative Odds?
Can I Lose Money on a Winning Bet?

James is responsible for the Ghanaian market on BettingGuide. He has a keen interest in sports betting and Gambling laws in particular. James is a Lawyer practising in East Africa, loves writing, and has a Law Degree from Makerere University, Uganda and a Post Graduate Diploma from the Kenya School of Law, Kenya.

Last updated: 12/1/2022