Making Cents Of Those Odds

You know how your favorite (or even your not so favorite) sports book is always quoting you the odds? Have you ever stepped back from your sports bet for a moment to consider what’s really going on here? You see, sometimes people think they grasp a concept only to find out later their assumptions were a wee bit off. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what odds really are.

A good way to think about odds is this: odds are only ever a representation, a proxy if you will, of something else. That something else in the sports betting world is probability. Now hold on, before your eyes start to glaze over and you have bad memories from college or high school statistics classes, understand the concept of probability is actually pretty straightforward.

How about if we start with a good definition. Mathematically, probability is most often defined as the likelihood that a certain event is going to happen. To calculate probability, you take the number of favorable events and divide it by the total number of possible events. For example, consider the common (and perhaps over-used coin toss example).

Suppose you want to bet on a coin toss. There are two possible outcomes, either Heads or Tails. If there is only one toss, that works out to one event divided by two possible outcomes. The answer is 1/2 or 50%. Easy enough right?

Now here is where some people lose track of the game. You see most sports books quote you the odds in a decimal form. For example, in the coin toss illustration above, the sports book may put the odds on the board as 0.50. The challenge is that most people are not used to thinking in decimals. Yes, everyone can work it out if they think about it for even a little bit, but the reality is that many don’t (or won’t).

The result, as you can well imagine is chaos and confusion. Or worse, a wallet that ends up several bills lighter at the end of the day. What’s the answer? Simple: go back to your high school math days and remember that a percentage is only but a decimal multiplied by the magic number of 100. Sounds too simple to even talk about?

Not so fast. Remember most people cannot think in decimal form. Yet just about anyone can make sense of a 75% chance of rain tomorrow. In other words, one easy strategy for your sports betting is to translate those decimal odds into percentages. Then you can tell at a glance what’s really going on.

Top Online Sportsbooks