As you should know by now, understanding the odds is one of the fundamental parts of successfully betting on the NFL. It is especially important to note them because they are very often more successfully crafted than the betting odds for other sports. This is thanks to the large audience which has led to the wide media coverage of the sport and everything related to it. This way, more facts are known which is helpful to bookies.
However, that can actually be far more helpful to you as the information is not exclusive and everyone has access to it. This gives bettors the chance to make their own odds, calculate the implied probability and the real probability of a certain event happening or not.
How do Odds Work?
At this point, you might imagine that the odds of a given bet will tell you what its probability is, however, that would be a mistake. Of course, this would be no news to a seasoned punter but we must cover all our bases in this guide. We shall start by explaining exactly how odds are made and why they are the way they are.
In order for a bookie to calculate odds, they have to take into account the probability of a certain event happening. That can concern larger items like an entire game, league, and so on, or it can be down to one very specific happenstance that players will be able to bet on. Once they have determined the probability of the event concerning the bet, they determine the odds. The odds indicate what the payout for a bet will be and not what the true odds of it happening are. The odds are usually going to be against you and if you bet with your smarts, you will be making small profits which will turn big over time, and not just one big hit.
If the odds represented the true probability of an event, bookies would not make any profit in most cases. The odds need to be set up in a way that allows both players and the bookmakers to get something out of it. That is why you will probably never find even odds – if the odds were -100 for A and +100 for B and people placed the same sum of bets, for instance, $30,000 on A and $30,000 on B, regardless of the result, one group of people would have the full payout and nothing would be left for the house.
So, the betting odds for an event and its probability are two different things. This does not mean that you should dismiss them and not take them into account every time you bet, on the contrary. They matter quite a lot and we will get into that a little later on.
Different Odds Formats
Now, when it comes to NFL betting you are most likely to encounter the Moneyline odds format, which is also known as the American format as it is used primarily in the US. However, it is possible that you encounter the other odds formats as well. Otherwise, this can be useful if you are used to Decimal or Fractional odds and are just now getting acquainted with this format.
In any case, if you wish to start betting on the NFL seriously, you will need to learn about every aspect of sports betting. In order to successfully bet on any sport, you basically need to have a very intelligent approach. This includes understanding the different types of odds.
Along with the way they function, we will help you understand how you can convert any format into the others. This way, you will be able to convert all odds into the format you find easiest to understand. This is especially useful when you are comparing the odds that different sportsbooks offer because in all likelihood they won’t all offer odds in the same format.
These odds, as we already mentioned, revolve around the number 100. They cannot be less than 100, they can, however, be positive or negative. So, if the odds are for instance +200 and you wish to place a bet of $300 and you end up winning, the sum you will have won will amount to $900. So, to break it down for you – this means that you get $200 to every $100 you wager. If, however, the odds are negative, for example -200 and you have placed the same bet, you will receive a payout of $450. This means that you receive your wager back along with half of your initial stake on top of that. Odds of -200 are the same as ½ or 1.5000.
There are formulas that can help you calculate your potential win faster and easier. The formula that will facilitate that process when it comes to positive Moneyline odds is as follows – Initial Bet x (Odds/100) = Potential Profit. When it comes to negative Moneyline odds, you can use this formula instead – Initial Bet / (Odds/100) = Potential Profit.
You can also convert Moneyline odds into Decimal or Fractional ones. You can do this either by using online converters, or you can simply learn the formulas for yourself. For instance, you can convert Moneyline odds into Decimal odds by using this formula – (Moneyline Odds + 100) / 100. And for negative odds, you can use this – (Negative Odds + 100) / Negative Odds. Of course, for this calculation, you need to ignore the negative sign of the odds.
You can convert Moneyline odds to Fractional odds in a very simple manner. For positive Moneyline odds, you just put them over 100 and simplify the equation if it is possible. For example, if you have odds of +300, the Fractional odds would be 3/1. For negative Moneyline odds, the equation is inverted, so if you have odds of -300, the Fractional equivalent would be 1/3.
Decimal odds also known as European odds, as they are the most common format there, are quite straightforward. There are no positive or negative odds, there is just a decimal number. All you need to do to find out how much your potential win would be, is to multiply your bet by the odds. So, the formula is simply Bet x Odds = Potential Win.
You can convert them into the Moneyline format or the Fractional one through the use of formulas again. Since there are positive and negative Moneyline odds, there are two formulas to convert Decimal into them. The first is for Decimal odds that are equal to or below 2.00 and results in negative Moneyline odds – 100 / (Decimal Odds – 1). The equation for positive American odds requires the Decimal ones to be above 2.00 – (Decimal Odds – 1) x 100.
In order to convert Decimal odds to Fractional odds, you must use the following equation – (Decimal Odds – 1) x 100, then you take the result and place it over 100. After you have simplified the solution, you will have the correspondent Fractional odds.
The Fractional format is most widely used in the UK, so it is also known as British. However, this format seems to be less common nowadays, but it is still quite likely that you run into it. That is why here we will show you how to understand it and convert British odds into the two other odds formats.
First of all, Fractional odds are exactly what the name would suggest they are – fractions. They can be expressed in all sorts of fractions ranging from simple ones like 2/1 to more complex ones like 10/11. There is a simple way to calculate your potential returns with fractional odds, so do not despair and go looking for your old math textbooks just yet. Here is the simple formula – Bet x (Fractional Odds) = Potential profit.
If you would rather just convert these traditional odds into the American format, there is a simple way to do that as well. Naturally, you will require two separate equations since these odds can be either positive or negative. When the odds are odds against, or, in other words, higher than evens, you can use the following formula to transform them into positive Moneyline odds – (Fractional Odds) x 100. Then, you simply add the + sign.
When it comes to odds on or Fractional odds that are lower than evens, you can convert them into negative Moneyline odds with this formula – 100 / (Fractional Odds). Then, once again, simply add the – sign.
If you prefer Decimal odds, you can convert Fractional ones into them by using this formula instead – (Fractional Odds) + 1. It is quite simple and easy to use but, most importantly, it certainly comes in handy.
Understanding the Importance of Odds
Now, as we said, the odds are not everything but it is important to note their function so that you can better understand the probability of a winning bet. Odds themselves do not express probability but they express value and that is something you always need to take into consideration.
Basically, the odds show you how much money you could win from a given bet. If the odds are even, you know that you will be doubling your stake, provided that you win. If the odds are ‘on’ for a given bet, that means that there is a higher chance for you to win but that in turn means that the profits will be less than if the odds were even.
If you have odds ‘against’, then you would be placing a risky bet that could, however, have a payout that will more than double your wager. So, for instance, if you decide to place a bet that an underdog will win in a game with a team that has proven itself superior, you would be placing a bet with odds against.
The question remains, though, how exactly does one find value in a bet – this is where probability comes into play.
Odds and Probability
Odds and probability are definitely linked but they are absolutely not the same thing. The genuine probability of a certain thing happening or not happening will hardly ever be accurately reflected in the odds. Regardless of the format of the odds, they will most likely reflect a course of events that would be more profitable to sportsbooks.
Of course, sometimes, the odds presented in sportsbooks do accurately reflect the situation at hand, but more often than not, you will need to calculate the probability for yourself. For instance, if you have been following a team’s development very closely, you might see that despite the fact that it is the underdog in a given bet, it is in fact, more likely to win than the favorite team. This way, you have gained the upper hand. So, as we said, knowledge of the game is pertinent.
Now, we have reached the topic of implied probability. You might wonder what the difference is between all three terms at play here – odds, probability, and implied probability. Well, we hope we have cleared up the distinction between the first two, and as for the last, it is basically what the odds suggest.
So, it is not exactly either but it is something which brings them closer rather than further apart. The implied probability of odds can be calculated quite easily. Basically, if you take the odds in their decimal format, and apply them to this simple equation – 1 / Decimal Odds, you will get the implied probability. In order to make it easier to understand, you may wish to multiply the result by 100 so that you get a percentage.
With an exact percentage, you will have a clearer idea of what the Implied probability of the odds is. This way, you will be able to compare it with your personal perception of the probability of a certain event happening or not happening. Then, by comparing them, you will be able to see if there is any actual value to the bet, in other words, if it is worth placing at all.
Now, we must also mention the vigorish when it comes to sports betting because it is important for new bettors to understand what it is and how it works. The vig, the juice, or, to be more precise, the cut of the sportsbook, does not come from a fee, it comes from your own bet. The way sportsbooks do this is by reducing the odds from their true probability. This is why you will hardly ever see even odds.
If the odds are even, the sportsbook will have to pay out approximately the same amount of money regardless of the outcome of the game. This is called a balanced book. Now, in this scenario, the sportsbook gets no profits, therefore there is no vig, and sometimes sportsbooks go bankrupt because of this. It is in their best interest to fix the odds in a way that is profitable to the bettor but to them too. After all, if they do not, they would go out of business.
So, naturally, this has an effect on the odds that the sportsbooks will offer you. Most sportsbooks still strive for a balanced book overall, but you have to remember that they are more likely to strive for a wager distribution that suits their needs. This in no way means that you cannot beat their techniques. By following the tips we have given you, you can make sure that you make more winning wagers than losing ones, and so, make some money while watching your favorite NFL team.