What is the Mathematics Involved in Sports Betting?

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The dreaded word: Mathematics. Most of us cringe and would rather watch paint dry than engage with any form of maths. Sadly, understanding the maths behind the odds is crucial if you’d like to have a successful gambling career.

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Introduction to Sports Betting Mathematics

Sports betting maths

Many casual players don’t dive into all of the stats and trends before wagering, and sometimes make the right call and win a bet nonetheless. Some punters also make a selection based on a whim. These guesses and selections might not take too much thought and won’t always lead to a profit. Knowing your odds and understanding the stats behind sports betting can make the difference between long-term returns and hitting a temporary lucky streak. Learning the mechanics and spotting trends will also help you in the long run.

Professional punters consider many factors before placing a wager. What is the weather going to be? Is there an injury? What is the territory? Past games and management also play a role, amongst many other contributing factors. You may think that scoring 50% of your wagers is good enough, when in fact that’s not true. To break even, you need to get 52.4% of your bets. The sweet spot is 55%. Players often forget that when they place a bet, the house (bookie) always benefits and has the edge.

What are the contributing factors, and what mathematics do you need to know to become the best punter you can be? Let’s get into it.

Odds and Maths

Depending on where you play and where you live, you’re probably accustomed to one of three odds displays: decimal, fractional and American. Don’t be afraid if the odds display isn’t familiar to you. Most sportsbooks will allow you to change the display.

There are apps, websites and programs that can convert odds for you if you’re ever uncertain. So what are odds? Odds tell you the probability of an event (or result) occurring; in other words, they tell you the likelihood of a specific outcome.

The odds are also there to tell you how much you’ll win or lose when the results come in. Plus, you must be aware of the matches you are betting on. Mind you you need to know which sports are best for long odds and which not. As far as the format of the odds, here are the most common ones. For example:

  • American odds display: Team A -200 and Team B +250. The negative sign indicates that team A is the underdog, and the positive shows Team B as the favourite. The values given tell you how much you’ll win for every £/$/€100 wagered.
  • Decimal odds display: 2.60. To calculate the payout, you’ll multiply the odds with the stake. The profit is the value calculated minus the initial stake.
  • Fractional odds display: 8/3. The profit on the wager is the stake multiplied by the odds.

Now that we know what the odds are, how do we calculate them? To calculate the odds, divide the number of possibilities by the total number of possibilities.

What are Good Odds?

Determining whether the odds that the bookmaker shared are good takes some research. You’ll need to compare the odds between sportsbooks, tipsters, professionals and sports betting experts. Plus, you must decide whether to go for betting exchanges where back and lay bets are possible as opposed to fixed sbooks. Choose the latter, but beware. If the bookmaker’s odds are equal or close to the true odds, then they are good.

Casual players don’t realise that the house always has an advantage. The house (sportsbook) will almost always overestimate the underdog. Overestimating the underdog results in the punter scoring a lower profit. Sportsbooks benefit by using this method.

Bookies also adjust the odds according to how they believe punters will play; ultimately, though, the house always has the advantage. If you strictly wager on events where the bookmaker offers odds that are close to the true odds, then you’ll have a higher probability of earning significant profits.

Factors to Consider

There are many factors to consider when you become an expert or try to predict the odds of a game or race. Countless events and circumstances come into play. It’s up to the boffins to bring it all together and to present odds and stats that are both true and correct.

Sports maths factors


One of the most influential aspects is the weather. It’s common sense that adverse weather will have an impact. For international games, some teams aren’t accustomed to the climate or sea level. Every part of the world is different, and the athletes’ bodies are used to their home climate.

There’ll be a difference between a team that flew in early to adjust to the new playing conditions, and they’ll have the upper hand. Sea level is essential because the higher you go, the thinner the air becomes, and your lungs need to adjust.


This is also a common sense factor. If an athlete (or horse) has an injury, it’ll affect the outcome. Star players suffering injuries can bring the team morale down and put more pressure on less experienced players.

If a player suffers a personal loss or any personal stress, it’ll affect their mentality and could be a reason that they don’t perform well.

Team Relationship

This factor is especially true for team sports, but other sports such as tennis have a team of experts behind the scenes. Good team spirit and morale bring the best qualities of each member to the forefront.

Tensions between teammates, coaches or management directly affect the gameplay and attitude of the players.

Past Games and Stats

The most recent games and stats of the previous games are the most crucial. They analyse and break down the latest games and find anything that affects the match outcome. Become a pro with wiki betting tips that will help you hone your skill. This is how experts pick up trends and outliers.

Previous games between the teams playing are also frequently analysed. Most teams develop a mental block when facing certain rivals. You’ll have noticed this when a player or team plays well in every match, except against a particular opponent.

In Conclusion

Before you place a bet, consider the factors outlined above. Consider the history of a team, the weather conditions, the match venue and the team morale before you place any bet.

Experts analyse every detail before concluding and presenting their thoughts on outcome and gameplay – successful bettors research and monitor players, use quantitative models in sports betting, and look at the team in full and training to deduce their outcome.

Analysing and deducing each aspect takes hard work. Professional bettors build their careers through hard work, research and dedication. Learning various formulae and stat analyses can help to bring the most probable outcomes to the fore.

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    Author: Katerina Gadzheva
    badged_holderCertified Betting Expert
    Katerina Gadzheva
    Katerina has 10+ years of experience in iGaming. She has been a player long before that. Using her skills as a content writer and first-hand knowledge of the online gambling industry, she reviews and compares online casinos for Silentbet.