Odds on

The term ‘odds on’ means that a bet on a selection in a betting market has a better than even, or 1/1, chance of winning.

odds on

The term ‘odds on favourite’ is frequently used in a more casual sense by sports commentators to refer to favourites who have an exceptionally good chance of winning their event.

What does odds on mean in terms of actual odds?

While odds on can be used to refer to any betting market selection priced under Evens, there are a wide variety of prices used within this bracket.

Odds on price examples (ordered left to right)
20/21 10/11
9/10 5/6
4/5 8/11
7/10 4/6
8/13 3/5
4/7 8/15
1/2 9/20
4/9 2/5
4/11 7/20
1/3 3/10
2/7 1/4
2/9 1/5
2/11 1/6
2/13 1/7
2/15 1/8
1/9 1/10
1/15 1/20
1/100  

Using odds on in betting

It can be tempting for novice punters to look for odds on betting opportunities when getting into sports betting. That’s an easy mistake to make, given that odds are proportional to the probability of a selection winning in a betting market.

However, while odds on selections do have a very high probability of winning their event, there are a number of important things to keep in mind before backing an odds on selection.

1.      Value in the bet

By default an odds on bet is going to offer you a smaller payout than an odds against bet. Theoretically the trade-off is that you have a better chance of winning an odds on bet, so you can afford to wager bigger amounts in order to score a better payout. In contrast odds against bets allow you to place smaller bets to generate good payouts, but have less chance of winning.

While it may be tempting to go the route of more certainty of winning and betting a bigger stake, always keep in mind that there is no such thing as a ‘sure thing’ in sports, and that odds on selections can and do lose on a regular basis. So it is inadvisable to expose yourself to that risk with a very large bet.

And that’s without taking into account the fact that odds on prices do not reflect the true probability of a selection winning an event - which leads us to the overround…

2.      The overround

Every selection in a betting market at a fixed odds bookmaker has a bookie’s overround factored into it. What this means is that every price in the market is forced slightly downward to reduce the cumulative payout across the entire market, and to improve a bookie’s chances of generating a profit from the market irrespective of the result of the event.

This has a particularly big impact on odds on favourites. Because the probability of a favourite winning is indeed higher, and because money can quickly stack up behind an odds on favourite (particularly in major race events), bookies can come under significant pressure to force the price on favourites downwards to reduce their exposure in the event the favourite wins.

What this means to you as a punter is that not only do odds on bets pay out relatively small returns by default, but these returns are diminished even further as bookmakers force prices down. And worse, the lowered odds will effectively exaggerate the probability of the selection winning.

3.      Each-way betting

Betting on an odds on favourite by default eliminates each-way betting as a viable strategy. For example if you place an each-way bet at ¼ odds on a horse priced at 1/4 and that horse places without winning, you will earn a 1/16 payout on the each-way portion of your bet, while losing the win portion of your bet. A return this small is little better than a loss.

This is not a minor issue. Each-way bets, where they are available, effectively give you two chances of earning a payout. Placing each-way bets at odds that ensure the each-way portion of your bet will return an overall profit if your selection only places is one of the most critical components of a successful betting strategy in many betting markets.

So when should you use odds on favourites in your bets?

While odds on bets typically won’t make sense in single, once-off bets, they are a good candidate for multiple and accumulator bets.

Bets like Lucky 31, Alphabet and Canadian/Super Yankee bets require five selections to win in order to generate a maximum payout.

In these cases you want to be as certain as possible that your selections will win, and the large number of sub-bets used for these bets will compensate for the lower odds on your selections.

For example, you could use a Lucky 31 or Canadian to bet on five odds on favourites in the early rounds of a men’s grand slam tennis tournament.

Top seeds in these matches will typically be encountering much lower ranked players. Although they will sometimes be upset in these matches, they will win the vast majority of these encounters.

You won’t generate the types of massive payouts these big multiples can generate using odds against selections, but will generate better returns than you would betting on individual selections.

For example using the following players in one-sided first round encounters in the French Open:

  • Lajovic 1/8
  • Fokina 1/7
  • Tsitsipas 1/10
  • Agut 1/6
  • Stephens 1/10

You can generate a £12.87 profit on a £26 Super Yankee or a £11.51 profit on a £31 Lucky 31.