Betting odds and odds keys explained – What they represent and how are they calculated?

The betting odds are the probability of winning expressed as a number. In Europe, these are almost exclusively decimal numbers.

In Great Britain, the odds are displayed in fractions and in the USA the so-called US-odds are common. In the meantime, almost every betting provider allows you to configure the way you prefer the odds to be displayed.

At we display the odds in decimal numbers.

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The betting odds show you exactly how much you can win. For example, if the odds are 2.20 and you bet $10, you can win $10*2.20 – which equals $22.00.

The higher the odds, the more the profit increases while the probability of winning decreases.

In a combination bet, the individual odds are multiplied together. Assuming you bet on two games with odds of 2.20, the total odds of your combination bet are 2.20*2.20 = 4.84.

Your potential winnings in this case would be $48.40.

With the odds, the probabilities are converted into decimal numbers. For example, the probability of a football match ending in a win or a draw is 100 %. A multitude of factors and calculations ultimately result in the individual odds. These include the performance potential of a club, historical data, but also the last results of the teams involved.

Of course, you can be sure that the top favourite will “win 100%”. However, one should always ask oneself what could happen under different situations in the same match. For example, if there is an early sending-off? Or a surprise goal by the underdog? What if an important player gets injured early on? Or if the opposing goalkeeper makes a great performance? What impact could a sudden storm have?

These are all factors that have to be taken into account when calculating the odds of e.g. football bets, and for this the betting providers have many, sometimes complex calculation formulas and methods at their disposal, for example the so-called Poisson distribution. Here, a final odds is found on the basis of goal statistics.

But you don’t have to be a maths genius like the French physicist Siméon Denis Poisson to get a feel for the right odds. Just imagine that A and B play each other 100 times under the same conditions and take into account all the factors mentioned above and others that can influence the final result. How often will A win, how often will B draw or win and don’t forget that there have been the strangest surprises in football.

Then you calculate the odds based on your prediction.


You think that the probability for a home win, a draw and an away win is 53% -27% -20%.

This makes it easy to calculate your personal total odds for the match: 1: (100/53) 1.89 X: (100/27) 3.70 2: (100/20) 5.00. For double chance: 1x (100/80) 1.25 – x2 (100/47) 2.13

Please note the following: The betting providers never calculate the odds on the basis of 100% because they want to generate revenue themselves. There are different betting keys depending on the provider. A bookmaker may have calculated the same probabilities as you and yet their odds look different. They don’t take 100% as a basis, but for example 94%.

Example with the same percentages:

1: (94/53) = 1.77, 94/27 = 3.48, 94/20 = 4.70.

This already results in a difference of 0.11 points for a home victory. That doesn’t sound like much, but with a bet of $100, it adds up to a difference of $11 should you win. In this case, good odds for you would be with a bookmaker who offers this home win at odds of at least 1.89 or higher. Otherwise, you might want to consider whether the better bet would be the other side… So another relevant factor besides the betting odds is the betting strategy!

Football betting odds – what do you have to watch out for?

As already explained above, the betting odds provide information about the probability of winning that a betting provider calculates for a team; in addition, each provider deducts some additional percentages in its odds key.

If the home win of the favourite in the next match is given as 1.30, this corresponds to a probability of just under 77%. (Simple calculation: 1/1.30*100 = 76.92). 

If you think this is a realistic estimate and the probability is even higher than 77%, this would be good odds and you should use them. However, if you think that the probability is much lower, such as 65% (i.e. 1.53), then you should decide against this bet.

The difference in payout on a $100 bet is still $23.

When choosing a bookmaker, you should make sure that the provider does use an odds ratio that is high. Some bookmakers use a high key in the top leagues, for example 97.5%. A 50% chance of winning is therefore 1.95. However, there are also providers with keys of only 92% or even less. For a 50% chance of winning, there is only an odds of 1.84. At first glance, the difference between odds such as 1.95 and 1.84 does not seem to be great. With a stake of $10, you win $9.50 once and $8.40 with the other provider.

But within a month you bet countless times – and with 100 correct bets the difference in winnings is already $110. Since there is no difference at all in losing, look carefully. With an average stake of $10, you can bet 11 times more often in the above example.

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