Whether you have been punting for years or are only starting out, having a good grip on football betting odds can make a huge difference. Why, it can give you the extra edge and help you make more informed bets, which will more than likely lead to bigger wins! A lot of people underestimate the power of understanding odds and the inner workings of sportsbooks.In this guide, we will discuss all the nitty-gritty you need to know if you would like to up your game and wager like a winner. We’ll look at all the intricate details of how odds are calculated, including how sportsbooks work.

By the end of this guide, you will be able to take one look at the betting odds of a footy game and bet like a pro!

1. Getting Down with Data

Firstly, each sportsbook has a string of people who run analyses on all the information available on a specific game. These analyses consist of tools and formulas that give them a comprehensive view on the probabilities of a specific match, using certain failsafe statistics.

Multiple factors are analysed and considered before odds compilers and traders come to a conclusion:

  • Injuries
  • Current shape of team members
  • Current shape of entire team
  • Suspensions
  • Recent results

All of these and many other factors are carefully considered and analysed during the evaluation stages. Sportsbooks don’t bat an eye when it comes to paying for this step in the calculation process, especially for bigger events like the Premier League. This ensures results are as accurate as they can be.

2. Cash Estimates

Next up, sportsbooks need to calculate what bettors are going to spend on bets and change the odds to include these estimates. Now, you may think that so much math would leave a lot of room for error. Sportsbooks make use of sophisticated programs and algorithms that take every factor into account to come to very accurate estimates.

This part of the process ensures that sportsbooks don’t run the risk of losing loads of money, so there is a method to the madness after all. Instead of the outcome relying completely on luck, bookies ensure that they still have a grip on how much they risk losing.

These estimates also aid in attracting a certain number of bets on certain outcomes. Including cash estimates allows them to sway bettors to bet a certain way. This is to ensure that they make their cut.

3. Making Their Margins

Now that the bookies have all the data and the cash estimates, they need to make sure they are going to make some money. The first two steps ensured they could compile realistic odds. Now, for them to make money, they need to set up a margin.

You’ll soon come to see that bookies provide odds that are lower than what they ought to be. As mentioned, this is to ensure that the sportsbooks are still making money at the end of the day. In general, you can expect proportionate punting to be unsuccessful.

For example, let’s say fair odds on any bet is 2.00. The bookie will always take a percentage of that to compensate for their revenue margin. So, instead of having odds of 2.00, you end up with odds of 1.93. Whether you win or not, what is left goes to the bookie.

Whatever percentage they end up with depends on the bookie. Each sportsbook has its margins, and they vary greatly. When you wager with brick-and-mortar bookies, you will also note that their margins are higher, due to higher overheads. We’d say, in general, a great online bookie will have a 3-5% margin.

4. The Odds They Are a Changing

You’re probably wondering why odds seem to change so quickly, especially during events. After the initial calculation is complete and the bookie has “fair” odds on a match, several things can cause odds to change.

1. Cash Flow

Even though the sportsbooks’ formulas, analyses and techniques are accurate, there is always room for error. For instance, when a certain projected outcome is not met, and bettors bet in favour of something other than calculated, they must adjust the odds.

2. Circumstantial Changes

This, in our opinion, is what makes betting on footy so enticing. It’s so unpredictable! During a match, anything can change. Players can get injured or suspended and star players can make grievous errors. These are factors that cannot be considered when calculating the odds. When something like this happens, if it can have an impact on the outcome of the game, bookies must adjust the odds.

5. Taking Advantage of the System

You now have a pretty good idea of how bookies calculate the odds and make their money. But, is there a way to get past all of this and win? Of course there is! Next, we look at two key ways you can use these insights to your advantage.

a. Be One Step Ahead

We’ve established that sportsbooks calculate odds to manage their cash flow better, and we know how it affects odds and the market in general. This tactic is especially efficient with big games in the Premier League or even the World Cup.

Loads of bettors may bet a specific way due to the odds, and this can have a big influence on pricing. Sportsbooks may adjust odds when they notice this, giving you the ideal opportunity to find better betting odds.

b. Inaccurate Calculations

There is always room for error when sportsbooks calculate odds. Even though they are generally accurate, they may not be as involved with minor leagues and matches that don’t attract a lot of bettors. Sportsbooks tend to spend most of their money and attention on bigger matches.

If you follow footy matches from around the globe, you may be able to catch something that isn’t reflected in the odds. For example, if you are aware of an injury that the odds haven’t taken into account, you can use this knowledge against the bookie.


If all else fails and you are a whiz with maths, you can always try to calculate odds. We’d advise against this approach, as calculating odds is a very intricate process involving a lot of data. Chances are, you won’t be able to beat a sophisticated sportsbooks’ approach.

Now that you have a better idea of how sportsbooks calculate odds, you will be able to make informed bets. Be sure to read our guide on matched betting if you are interested in giving it a try. We wish you success in betting on the next footy match!