Sometimes it can be a bit of a challenge to figure out the truth behind the numbers: how much are you going to win exactly when you bet on your favorite team? We’re going to give you a quick rundown of the different odds formats so that you can make the most informed decisions possible!
The importance of probability
Just to make sure everyone’s on the same page: the basic premise of betting is that you have a pretty good idea about the probabilities of your favorite esport events’ outcome, hopefully more accurate than what the bookies set for that particular game. Their odds are basically the reflection of how likely they think a certain outcome will occur (plus a bit of math magic), which can help you narrow down some choices. If someone offers you triple money if you can correctly guess the outcome of a coin flip, you should take it a heartbeat as the 3 to 1 betting odds offered are better than the 1 in 2 chance of choosing the right answer. Similarly, if they only want to give you a $120 payout for a winning $100 bet, you should steer clear. If they were to offer you $200, you’d have an absolutely even bet, which means no one can make any money in the long run.
TL;DR: if you have a better idea of the likely outcomes than the bookies, you stand to win some money.
Generally, probabilities are calculated by dividing the number of positive outcomes with the number of all possible ones – returning to our coin toss example, you have two different results to look out for, only one of which would win you the bet – hence the 1/2 probability. You have a 1/6 chance to correctly guess the outcome of a dice throw, and so on.
Fractional odds work in a similar way: they show you how much your winnings will be if everything goes your way. For instance, the aforementioned 3/1 means that every $1 bet will net you a $3 profit – or, to look at it in a different way, you’ll win $4 overall, which includes your original stake (3+1). Conversely, 1/4 odds mean that you win $1 for every $4 you put on the line (or that a $4 bet will get you $5 back overall) – a much less enticing proposition.
Way back when, these calculations were way easier to wrap your head around – however, the ubiquity of calculators and computers mean that we are now much more comfortable with the other popular format: displaying the odds in a decimal form.
You can think of these as a multiplier of your stake. Betting $1 on 2.5 odds will get you $2.5 back, meaning your profit is $1.5 - it’s that easy! Perhaps the one downside of decimal odds in comparison with fractional ones is that you always have to manually discount your stake: in the above example, the 2.5 multiplier doesn’t apply to your profit but to your overall winnings. Still, if you want to do some math before making a bet, this is a much more convenient option and is slowly but surely becoming the more popular one out of the two.
This format allows the bookies to make small adjustments that are easily understandable without creating monstrous fractions like 11/2 and 471/100. An easy way to convert one to another is to subtract 1.00 from the decimal odds, then find the nearest whole integers – or to divide the fraction’s first figure by the second and then add 1.00 to the result.
There’s one more format to consider, and this one revolves around an intricate series of pluses and minuses: the money line or “American odds” expresses the odds as if they were a $100 bet. If they are negative (say, -110), this is the amount of money you’ll have to put on the line in order to win $100. (In decimal odds, this would amount to 1.91.) Conversely, a positive number (for instance, +140) means that this would be your profit on a successful $100 wager. (Again, in decimal odds, this would mean 2.4, or 7/5 in fractional.) The conversion method depends on whether the money line odds are positive or negative: if positive, just divide by 100 and add one to get the decimal version – if it’s negative, divide 100 by the money line amount before adding one.