What Do Football Betting Odds Mean?

What Do Football Betting Odds Mean?

Football betting can be profitable when specific strategies are used with discipline and consistency. However, as a new punter, it is important to know how the bookies operate.

One of the questions that typically arise at the beginning relates to how betting odds work. There are three types of betting quotas used to represent football odds. Which are as follows.

  • Decimals
  • Fractional
  • American



Decimal format is the most used in the whole of Europe and large parts in Africa and Asia. This usually includes 2-3 decimals depending on the bookmaker and the gross winnings is expressed by simply multiplying the stake by the odd decimal.

For example, if we bet $10 at a quota of 2.20, our gross earnings will be 10 x 2.20 = $22. To obtain the net or real gain we must subtract the amount wagered; so the net profit: (10 x 2.3) -$10 = $13.


This way of expressing odd quota is very popular and almost exclusive to the United Kingdom. Therefore if you are traveling to the United Kingdom or living in the country, you will have to get used to such representation.

The reason the fractional quota format is in use is that a high percentage of popular bookmakers come from the United Kingdom  and have a large customer base in these countries.

For example, a ¼ quota means that for every $4 wagered you can win $1, a 5/1 fee means that for every $1 wagered you can win $5 and a 7/2 fee is the same as saying that you are risking $2 to win $7.

How can we change from a fractional fee to a decimal fee? Well, it is simple as by dividing and adding one. In the case of ¼ quota the decimal quota will be ¼ + 1 = 1.25. for the 7/2 our decimal quota would be 7/2 + 1 = 4.5.




This quota is mainly used in North and Central America and is somewhat more complex than other systems. This is due to the inclusion of two variants. What we mean is that all quotas that are lower than the two decimals are given a negative sign in front, while quotas greater are placed with a positive sign in front.

For example, for a +170 odd you will earn $170 net by risking $100. A +500 odd gives us possible net dividends of $500 for every $100 of risk.

For an odd of  -450, you will win $100 for every $450 wagered. An odd of -200 gives us a benefit of $100 for every $200 wagered.

We will focus this explanation around the decimal odd quota, since it is the most widely used and recognized worldwide.

How Odds Are Calculated

Bookmakers carry out thorough studies for games until they reach a final correct odd for each event. Setting the example of a football match, each betting company has professionals specifically dedicated to collecting all kinds of information.

These could include, injury lists, suspended players, line-ups and statistics. This is how they arrive at the best odds in terms of possible outcomes.

To know the probability of the games, the bookmaker assigns to each result a basic formula which is 100/odd. For example, a game between Barcelona and Sevilla could see Barcelona given an odd of 1.22. It means that for the bookie, Barcelona has an 81.96% chance of winning. This is called Implicit Probability.





Most betting experts will always tell you to bet when you consider that the real possibilities are superior to those stipulated by the bookmaker using this formula.

Odds and Probability

The probability that constitutes each odd is the ideal way to understand how bookies obtain their profits. The equation is very simple and using a football game, just calculate the percentages of the three available alternatives and add them up.

You will find that it always exceeds 100% and the extra percentage is the profit of the betting company.  Let’s use a practical example. In a game involving Manchester United and Liverpool.

The odds are as follows. 3.50 for Manchester City, 3.00 for a draw and 2.25 for a Liverpool victory. When using the formula with the odds detailed above the fees would translate into  28.57%, 33.33%, and 44.44%, respectively.

The sum of these three percentages gives 106.34% and the surplus of 6.34%, in this case, is the profit of the bookmakers.

Change of Odds

One of the common thing that you may notices is for bookmakers to alter their odds on more than one occasion between publishing the event and when it begins. This situation is due to the movements that users making.

Taking into account previous developments, bookies need to find a balance between different probabilities that an event could present itself.

Therefore, if many players bet on a favorite with a fee of $2.00 for each dollar wagered, the odd will go down due to the mere objective of compensation.

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