If you’re reading our website, chances are you know that odds are based upon the likelihood or probability of an event occurring during a sports event or competition.
You may have noticed that odds change pretty often and sometimes drastically. We’ve all thought about putting a bet on, got distracted and then come back later to discover the odds are totally different. Having a good understanding of how odds work is important for any punter, in the quest to beat the bookies!
Bookmaking business needs
The main reason why odds change is because bookmakers are similar to all companies, in that they have a whole lot of costs associated with running their operations and need to turn a profit from the sports betting services they provide.
In any single betting market, from the moneyline to point spreads to over/unders, the bookmakers have to pay out all those who wagered on the correct outcome. The total potential payout amount on any given outcome is known as the bookmaker’s liability. Of course, the bookmaker keeps all the money wagered on losing bets, which usually offsets those payouts.
What does this have to do with odds fluctuating? Well, if everybody bets on one outcome, then the odds for that selection are likely to get shorter, because the bookmaker wants to reduce their liability on that market. Conversely, the odds on other opposing selections may well get longer, meaning a higher potential payout for the bettor if it wins.
Bookmakers employ teams of traders to compile odds and see where the money is on betting markets. Their role is to ensure a maximum profit for the company by managing the risk of possible payout amounts.
If you’re betting online, take the time to compare odds between different bookmakers to make sure you get the best value for your bet. Trust us, it will be worth the time put in for the satisfaction when you get those extra winnings!
Pre-game betting market factors
The likelihood of a team winning a match can be affected by an almost infinite list of factors, many of which are impossible to quantify. However, we all know that some factors have more of an impact than others. A star player suffers an injury in practice or is on a suspension? A tennis player comes into his next match off the back of a grueling five-set encounter, while his opponent has had nearly two days’ rest? How about an entire team getting struck down by food poisoning the day before its game?
These kind of factors are often discussed by TV analysts and reporters as having some influence on the outcome of a game. Bookmakers have just a keen an eye on sports news as fans and will adjust their odds accordingly. You might be able to get an edge in some situations by reacting to breaking news quickly, before the bookies have had the time to make changes.
In-play betting: unpredictable and exciting
With the explosion of in-play betting markets and the prevalence of mobile devices in recent years, it’s never been easier to wager while following a game live; whether at the stadium, in a bar or in front of the television at home.
In-play odds are particularly volatile. All of the pre-game analysis, hype or smack talk has a minimal impact on the outcome of the game, compared to what actually goes down on the field/rink/court (delete as applicable!).
When betting in-play, you need to get your bet on quickly if you want to secure the odds you see on-screen. From one second to the next, they could change, which in turn means you will get a different payout. Important in-game events will cause betting to be suspended, while the bookmakers wait to see what happens in a certain situation, or take their time to recalculate their odds.
Outright betting: it’s a long season!
Sometimes the events we bet on don’t finish until a long time after we originally placed the bet. In the above example, you can see the odds offered on the winner of Superbowl LI before the NFL season started. The favorites are the Seahawks and the Patriots, both available at 9.5. A winning bet placed at those odds would get paid out at those odds guaranteed.
Over the course of the season, however, the odds on those teams will change in relation to their on-field results. If one of the teams starts out the season with five straight losses, the chances of them turning their season around completely and winning the Superbowl are unlikely. On the other hand, if they go 16-0 in the regular season, they are going to look unstoppable and the odds will be shorter when the playoffs start.
Now that you’ve learned about odds fluctuations, here is our guide to the best sites for sports betting.