How do betting odds work in football? action

How do Betting Odds Work in Football?

By Ashley Salek - Feb 11th 2019

How do betting odds work?

This is a question most bookmakers have heard time and time again. Many betters are interested in knowing exactly how they arrived to the odds they did.

So, let’s lift the lid on this one. There’s a method to the madness.

How to Understand Betting Odds

Before digging a little deeper, it’s always handy to understand exactly what you’re looking at. Particularly if you’re a beginner in football betting, bookmaker odds can be tough to understand.

It helps to break it down. Betting odds tell you:

  • How likely a certain outcome is
  • How much money you’ll win

How Do Odds Work in Football?

Shorter odds tend to mean less winnings. For example, betting on an in-form striker in an anytime goalscorer market is unlikely to have a huge profit margin.

The reason? The chance of winning is high, so returns will be less.

The flip side to this is that, even in the same football match, some markets can be greatly profitable. Generally speaking, the first goalscorer market has greater odds – as it’s tougher to predict.

Particularly in matches in the Premier League, with so many of the world’s best players, this betting market is a hugely exciting one.

How do Betting Odds Work in Football?

According to, Adrian Hayward remarkably placed a wager in 2005 that midfielder Xabi Alonso would score from his own half at odds of 125-1. He did, earning Mr. Hayward £25,000 off a £200 bet.

Football Betting Explained – Fractional Odds

Fractions are one way that odds can be displayed. Whenever you see two numbers separated by a dash, e.g. 3/1 – you’ll know what you’re looking at.

But, what does this actually mean?

Betting Fractions Explained

Let’s make things easier to understand. In this scenario, for every £1 you bet, you’ll win £3. Fractional odds allow you to see clearly see how much you’ll win for your stake. The number after the dash is how much you’ll need to put down.

How to Read Betting Odds – Decimals

Decimal odds are another way to display odds in football betting. These types of odds are numerical, for example 2.00.

This means that for every £1 you bet, you’ll win back £1. Here, should your bet win, you’ll win £1 – plus your returned stake.

How Do Decimal Odds Work?

Usually, the smaller the number (meaning the shorter the odds) the more likely the bookmaker thinks this outcome is.

Decimals vs. Fractions – Odds Explained

So, which type of odds betting is better?

While there’s a movement towards decimals, there’s no clear winner. Understanding betting odds can be tough, but decimals tend to be a little easier. The shift began in horse racing, to make it easier for the average bettor to understand.

Also, it’s important to be aware that fractional odds only represent winnings – not your returned stake as well. Decimal odds do include your stake. This will tell you exactly how much you stand to win.

How do Betting Odds Work in Football?

According to, Harry Odgen conceived and refined the way betting odds are seen in 1790.

How Are Betting Odds Set?

Many punters are often curious at how odds are calculated. In fact, there’s a lot that goes on.


How likely is an event to occur? Bookmakers must take this into consideration when calculating odds.

To decipherer odds in football betting, bookmakers will look at factors such as:

  • Current form
  • Past match data
  • Individual player stats
  • Team history
  • Home/away

Calculating all the variables of any given football match isn’t straightforward . There are also a number of factors that are outside of anyone’s control, such as injury or weather conditions.

How do Betting Odds Work in Football?

The probability of rolling 6 twice in a row is 2.78%.

How Much Money is Likely to Be Placed

Bookmakers must also take a look at where punters are most likely to place their money.


Unsurprisingly, bookies will skew the odds slightly in their favour. They have to work things out so that they still generate a profit, like any other business.

Making Money off the Bookies

Even with the best betting sites, such as Betfair, there are ways to win at the bookies’ expense.

There are a number of great football strategies out there. But, truthfully, sometimes you just need to take advantage of what’s in front of you.

Free Bets

Free bet offers are often for new customers only, making them one of the more popular sign-up bonuses. However, they’re a great way to save money.

The most common form is a free bet with a minimum deposit.

Enhanced Offers

Why not make the most possible money from your original stake?

An enhanced offer is simply an increased price for a particular bet. Taking advantage of this allows you to boost your potential winnings.

Accumulator Insurance

The bookies can be on your side! Accumulator (acca) insurance means your stake is protected. This way, one leg can’t let you down.

Build an Accumulator

Placing multiple bets at once? Build an accumulator! It will calculate all returns in real-time and allow you to choose from a wide range of bookmakers.

Ready to get started? It couldn’t be simpler with our Acca Smacker! Find all of our football accumulator tips (or ACCAs as some call them) here.

Written by Ashley Salek for

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