You can win at Gambling – Here’s Why

Gambling is a wide subject. Sports betting is one activity that is regarded as gambling. There are also casino games.  A widely popular means of gambling is spreadbetting.  But other types of gambling include bingo, lotteries, and poker machines.

Some types of gambling are winnable – that is you really can beat the bookie – and some really will lose you money no matter what.

Types of gambling that will lose you money are those where you have a negative expectation. On the other hand those where you can use your skills to get yourself a positive expectation. An example where you can get yourself a positive expectation is BlackJack.

As you probably know, Blackjack can be beaten by so-called ‘card counters’.  The reason it works is because as cards are played out of the deck, the remaining deck will have a concentration of particular cards that may give players a positive expectation or not as the case may be.  When a Blackjack player is sure of the positive expectation, he or she bets big.  In this way, the game is winnable.

Roulette is a casino game that is engineered by casinos to always be in favour of the House.  For the punters therefore it is, as they say, a “mugs’ game”.  It is a losing proposition.  However, there are rumours that some people have managed to get themselves a system, where they tilt the game ever-so-slightly in their favour and have been able to take the  casinos for millions.  Not surprisingly, their methods have been kept a closely guarded secret.

Bingo is an out and out mugs’ game.  There is no system that can beat ‘bingo’. Lotteries are also a sure fire way of losing money. The payouts are rarely above 50 cents in the dollar.

Games you can win though are the ones where you can get yourself an edge on the house or bookie.  “An edge” is another expression for “positive expectation”.

For example, you can often take out spread bets on a very large number of events, for example, presidential elections, football games, pool games, quiz shows, basketball games and horse and dog racing.  Winning doesn’t usually mean that you’ve picked a winner, just that you’ve beaten the point spread on the bet.

For example, if you are spread betting on sports, those with their ear to the ground and knowledge of the form of the teams and other factors such as weather and the state of the sports grounds, can find profitable bets.

Let’s take for example a football match. Barcelona and Newcastle are playing in Spain. We can do a research and view that in 5 last games Barcelona at home had 4 wins and one draw and Newcastle away from home had 2 draws and 3 loses. We can also see that the second team will have absences of important players. Using this research and common logic that says that Barcelona is one of the best teams.  However, it would be a mistake to bet for Barcelona without having regard to the spreads being offered by the bookies, in fact it might, in this example, be better to bet on Newcastle. It all depends….

More in a later post.

Handicapping – Winning Through Superior Knowledge

Handicapping is one technique that bookies use that you can pick up and use against them.

By handicapping bookies try to determine who has the greatest chance of winning a particular sporting event and then adjust the odds so that they can make money.  Handicapping requires a great deal of knowledge and major bookies employ sports experts who can help them set the appropriate odds.

The good news is that this means you can beat bookies at their own game.

First of all you will need to have information about the sports, the teams and the players.  It’s good to know about past matches, history and the past form of the team. This information combined with the experience you get over time will help you to understand the handicapping process.

The goal is not so much to pick winners, but to work out when the bookies have mispriced the odds.

Guys that make money from sports betting have great lives.  They watch a lot of sports and get to know them extremely well. It seems ideal: you can grab a cup of coffee, relax and open a sports magazine or a newspaper, switch on the television or just listen to sports radio where ever you are.

Every match you hear about will give you the opportunity to start thinking about the real chance that this or that team has to win. Once you understand that you can start searching for odds that bookies have set and see which ones have been mis-priced.

Have a look at what professional tipsters say and whether they have accurately assessed the likely outcome of a sporting event. The fact is you can’t make money from them, because bookies will have already adjusted the odds to take into account this tip, no matter how good that tipster is.

Therefore, people who make money from sports betting don’t go public with their ideas, they need to place their bets without the world knowing.  People who are very good at it, might successfully sell their tips to a select few trusted customers.

Winning with Odds – Converting British and Moneyline Odds

When betting internationally, you might want to be able to covert odds from several bookies to a common form, so that you can compare them easily and so that the odds are in a form that you better understand.

In this article we look at how British fractional odds and US moneyline can be converted, the one to the other.

US moneyline odds use a positive number say +200, which means you will profit $200 if you bet $100, or a negative number, say -200, which means that you need to bet $200 to make a profit of $100.

British fractional odds use the style of 5-1, which means you bet $1 to win $5, or in the form 1-5, which means you need to bet $5 to win one.

As the perceptive will immediately see, conversion is really easy.

Moneyline to Fractional Conversion

Let’s say we have a fight match between Tito Ortiz and St. Pierre. Tito Ortiz is offered at -150 and St. Pierre at 200.

St. Pierre is offered at a positive number.  To convert to fractional odds we divide that number by 100 and put it on the left-hand side of the fraction.  So, 200/100 = 2.  So, +200 is equivalent to odds of 2-1.

Tito Ortiz is being offered at a negative moneyline. In this case, to convert to fractional odds we remove the minus sign divide by 100 and put the resulting figure on the right-hand side of the fractional odds.  So,  150/100 = 1.5.  Therefore the fractional odds are 1-1.5.  We however rarely see fractions in the fractional odds.  To remove the fraction multiply both sides by 2. So, 1×2 = 2 and 1.5 x 2 = 3 and the fractional odds are 2-3 or ‘three to two on’, that is you need to be $3 to win $2.

Fractional to Moneyline Conversion

Let’s consider a Premier league football match say Manchester United vs. Fulham. ManU are the odds on favourite at 4-5 and a Fulham win is being offered at 3-2. Let’s convert this to moneyline.

Divide the bigger side of the fraction by the smaller and multiply by 100.  If the right-hand side is bigger add a ‘minus’ sign if the left-hand side is bigger then leave it as a positive number.

So, in the case of 4-5 of odds.  5/4 = 1.25.  Because the right-hand side is bigger we add a minus sign, -1.25. Now we multiply by 100 and get -125.  So the money line for ManU is -125.

In the case of 3-2 we divide three by two, 3/2 = 1.5.  We leave it as a positive number and multiply by 100. So, 1.5 x 100 = 150.  So the money line for a Fulham win is +150.

See, easy!

Bookies’ Tricks: How Bookies Make Money with the Overround

There are several ways for a bookmaker to make money.  Chief amongst these is running what they call a  “balanced book”.  A bookmaker’s book on a sporting event is balanced when he makes money no matter what the outcome.

Consider a soccer match. There are three outcomes a home win, a draw or an away win.  Let’s assume the true probabilities are as follows:

Outcome True Probability True Odds
Home Win 1/3 2-1
Away Win 1/3 2-1
Draw 1/3 2-1

Only one outcome is possible, so if the bookie offers those odds, he will not make any money. For example, say a bookie accepts $100 from several punters and is therefore holding $300. If the Home team wins, he will payout $200 and return the original $100 stake, leaving him with nothing for his time and effort.  Bookies, obviously won’t be happy with this. The way they deal with it is to adjust the odds away from the true probabilities:

Outcome True Probability True Odds Offered Odds
Home Win 1/3 2-1 9-5
Away Win 1/3 2-1 9-5
Draw 1/3 2-1 9-5

So, athoughl the chance of each outcome is 33.3%, the bookie is offering odds of 9-5 equivalent to 35.71%. If you add up the ‘true probabilities’, we get 100%.  However, if we add up the probabilities corresponding to the offered odds, we end up with 107.14%. This 7.14% above 100% is known as the overround or sometimes ‘juice’ or ‘vig’ and is where the bookie makes his guaranteed profit.

So if, as in the previous example, the bookie accepts $100 on each of the outcomes and is holding $100, if, say there is a home win, he must pay out $180 in winnings and return the $100 stake, for a total of $280.  However, there is a clear, guaranteed $20 profit for the bookie.

Let’s now look at a slightly more real world example.

Consider a football game  Barcelona is playing against Poli Ejido. Barcelona is the favourite to win and decimal odds are offered at 1.25. For a draw the odds are 6.67 and the odds offered for a Poli Ejido win are 20.0. The punters have staked a total of €500,000, with most money being staked on Barcelona to win, as follows:

Outcome Odds Amount Staked Potential Payout Bookie’s Profit or Loss
Barcelona wins 1.25 425,000 531,250 -31,250
Draw 6.67 62,500 416,817 83,333
Poli Ejido wins 20 12,500 250,000 250,00

Barcelona is the clear favourite and the odds have been set accordingly. However, from the bookie’s point of view the odds are not correct. The reason for this, is that if Barcelona wins (and there is a high probability that this will be the outcome) then the bookmaker will suffer a loss of €31,250.  This is an example of an improperly balanced book.  But what if the bookie juggles the odds ever so slightly:

Outcome Odds Amount Staked Potential Payout Bookie’s Profit or Loss
Barcelona wins 1.15 425,000 488,750 11,250
Draw 5.0 62,500 312,500 187,500
Poli Ejido wins 17 12,500 212,500 287,500

Here, we see that regardless of the outcome the bookmaker has a guaranteed profit of at least €11.250.

Although this article has been about how bookies make money, the above example,where the odds for a Barcelona win are mispriced,  shows where a discerning punter can potentially make money.

Decimal Odds and British Fractional Odds – Converting from One to the Other

Fractional odds make it easy to calculate how much a winning player will win but the decimal odds system makes it easier for the player to calculate how much the bookie will pay if the player is successful.

Converting Fractional British odds to European decimal odds

This is very simple. You first use division to convert the fraction and then you add the number one (1).

So, if the fractional odds are 20-1 (pronounced 20-to-1), we divide 20 by one and add one (20/1 + 1 ), which gives decimal odds of 21.0. If the fractional odds are 1-20 (pronounced “1-to-20 on”), we divide one by twenty and add one, so 1/20 + 1, giving decimal odds of1.05. When the odds are 1-to-1 also known as “evens” or “even”,  the decimal odds are 1/1 + 1 or 2.0.

An example is when we bet on a horse in UK races. If the horse is favorite and pays out 4/7 then we divide 4/7 = 0.57 and we add 1. We get European decimal odds of 1.57.

Now if we bet on an underdog being offered at 15/1 we divide 15/1=15 and we add 1 and we get European odds of 16.0. In other words the bookie will payout 16 times your stake for a profit of 15 times your stake.

Converting Decimal odds to Fractional British odds

To convert decimal odds to fractional odds we reverse the process.

Say for example, we want to bet on a horse that is being offered at 3.0, that is if we bet $100, we would receive a payout of $300 from the bookie, should the horse win. To convert this to fractional odds subtract one and put the resulting number on the left hand side of the formula.  So, 3.0-1 = 2, giving us odds of 2:1, or two to one.

Obviously, it can get a bit more complicated if the fractions are more complicated.  So, if the decimal odds are 2.75, subtracting one gives us 1.75.  However odds of 1.75:1 are not nice to read or look at. Instead we can multiply both sides by 4 giving odds of 7:4 (seven-to-four), that is, if I bet $4 dollars and win, I get a profit of $7, taking home a total of $11.

The process is similar if the decimal odds are less than 2.0.  Say, a win on a horse is being offered at 1.5. If we subtract one, we get 0.5.  However, odds of 0.5:1 are not very easy to understand (if I bet $1 I get 50 cent profit).  Here, we would multiply both sides by two, giving odds of 1:2 or one-to-two on. That is if I bet $2, I would profit by $1 and take home $3.

The conversion is very simple and you don’t need to use a calculator most of the times. It is also very easy and fast.

Converting Odds: American Moneyline and European Decimal

When you bet internationally, sometimes, you’ll want to convert some types of odds to others. Perhaps, so that you can compare odds from different bookies or so that you can simply have the odds in a format you are more comfortable with.

Moneyline to Decimal Odds

To convert American moneylines to European decimal style odds there are two formulae depending whether the number has a positive+ sign or a negative – in front of it.

If the money line odds are positive, then divide the figure by 100 and add 1.

For example to convert a moneyline of +300:

  1. 300 / 100 = 3

  2. Add 1 and then you will find the number 4. This is the decimal odds.

In other words, if you bet $10, your final payout will be $40 (with a profit of $30).

If, on the other hand, the moneyline is negative, for example, -200, then we remove the negative sign, divide 100 by it and add one.

For example, if the moneyline is -200, we first remove the – sign. We take 100 and we divide it by the moneyline odds, in this case 200 and we add 1. I.e. 100/200+1=1.5. In which case, if we bet $10, we would receive a payout of $15, for a total profit of $5.

Decimal to Moneyline

Where we want to convert decimal odds to moneyline odds then we reverse the process.

For example, if a bookie is showing odds of 4.0, we take this figure subtract 1 and multiply by 100. So, (4.0 – 1) x 100 = 300.  The moneyline is therefore +300, that is if we bet $100, we will receive $300 profit (or a total payout of $400).

If the decimal odds are less than two, say 1.4, then we subtract 1, divide 100 by the resulting number and add a negative sign.  So, 100/ (1.4 – 1.0)  x -1 will give us a moneyline of -250.  In other words we need to bet and risk $250 for a possible profit of $100 (and a $350 payout from the bookie)

What could be simpler!

Betting on Soccer and Eliminating Draws with Asian Handicapping

Soccer is famous for its low scores and common draws.  This can cause problems for both bookies and punters because there is no clear outcome. Asian handicapping was invented to deal with this.

It’s called the “Asian” Handicap because it was first designed in the East. It is now becoming  one of the favorite types of betting in Europe.

In every soccer game there are three outcomes. The first team wins, there is a draw or the second team wins.  One effect of Asian handicapping is to eliminate the draw.

This gives you the chance to bet that one team wins. The bookmaker gives the handicap in a specific team, so this way it balances the bet so an equal number of punters will bet for each side.

Asian Handicap is given as 0.25, 0.5, 075, and 1 and so on. Let’s see our following examples.


Home Team

Away Team

Home Team odds

Away Team odds

Asian Handicap

  1. Juventus





  1. Inter





  1. Manchester United





  1. Barcelona





In the above examples we see in the Asian handicap column two numbers. The first indicates the advantage of the home team and the second number the advantage of the away team.

  1. In the first match Parma has an advantage of 0.25. Meaning if we bet on Juventus and they win 1-0 and over we win the bet, if they lose or have a draw then we lose. If we bet on Parma and the game comes in a draw or Parma wins then we win.
  2. Empoli has an advantage of a half goal. Any draw or win of Empoli favors them so if we bet on them and one of these two possible outcomes end we will win the bet. If we bet on Empoli and Inter wins, we lose the bet.
  3. This is the same case as the above example games with Birmingham having 0.75 advantages.
  4. This is a bit different. Villareal has 1 goal advantage before kickoff. Meaning if the game is draw or VIllareal wins then the winner is the punter who bet on the away team. If Barcelona wins by one goal difference like 1-0 or 2-1 etc. then we have a draw. If we bet on Barcelona and they win by two goals we win the bet. Example is the score 2-0. With the advantage of the one goal given to Villareal the match ends 2-1. The winner is Barcelona.

Asian Handicapping is very common online and it’s spreading all over the world. It provides different odds and a way of dealing with the low scores and common draws in soccer.

Understanding Fractional or British Style Odds

If you’re betting on sports in the UK or Australia you will come across fractional odds, sometimes called British-style.

This way of displaying odds shows the profit you win for your stake.

Fractional odds are displayed in the forms 2/1, 2-1 or 2:1 and would be pronounced “two to one” or often “two to one against”.

The first number of the odds represents a multiple of your winnings (or profit) should you win, while the second number represents the stake. So if, for example, you see 2-1 odds,  you would win double your stake.  Consider a two-horse race. One is the favorite with  odds of 2/1 and, the other one as an underdog, less likely to win. For this one the bookie offers higher odds of 5/1. If you bet £100 on the favorite and it wins you win £200. Alternatively,  if you bet £100 on the underdog and it wins then your profit is 5 x £100 or £500. Including your original stake you would receive £600 from the bookie.

We see this odds system all the time in the UK and Ireland. It is  commonly used in horse racing, dog racing and football.

Let’s say you were to bet £10 on a horse to win with the odds of 5-1. You would get back 5 x (£10) stake plus your original stake (£10) or £60.

If you were to bet £20 on a horse with the odds of 7/2 then you will receive from the bookie £20 x 7 times/2+£20 (stake) or £90.

Sometimes we’ll come across cases where the second number of the odds is bigger than the first. This is most commonly founded with favorites. An example is where the odds are 1-5 (pronounced “1 to 5 on”. Put simply, this means you need to bet 5 to win 1. To work out your winnings you multiply the first number with your stake and divide it with the second number. In the above case where the odds are 1-5, were you to bet 20 divide it by 5 and you get 4. This means that if you place a bet of £20 you will win £4. The total payout from the bookie being £24.

Betting in Europe – European Odds

Betting in Europe or on a betting exchange like BetFair means you will come across European decimal-style odds.

Decimal odds are great in that they make it easy to work out your payout. They may offer the easiest way to calculate your profit and so most online bookmakers offer the option to display their odds in this style.

It is easy to calculate the profit by multiplying the value of the bet by the decimal odds value. I.e. we have the following odds of two basketball teams. New York Knicks that offer the price of 1.90 and Chicago Bulls that offer 2.00. If you bet €100 on the Knicks then you need to multiply your bet: €100 x 1.90(decimal odd) = €190. This is the exact payout. The same thing you do in case you bet on the other team. You bet €100 so you multiply it by 2.00 that is offered by the Bulls and the outcome is €200. This again is the profit.

Decimal odds are commonly used in European football. Let’s take an example of a Saturday football match between Omonoia Nicosia and ALKI for the Cyprus football championship. The football match will have one outcome of the possible three (1st team to win, draw and 2nd team to win).  Let’s assume that the bookmaker offers these  odds:

Omonoia WIN 1.50
DRAW 3.60

If we bet €100 on Omonoia to win then we multiply  €100 by for a total payout of €150 for a €50 clear profit.

If we bet on a draw then the mathematics works out like this: 3.60 x €100 = €360. That is a total payout of €360 for a €260 net profit.

And if we bet  €100 on ALKI to win then: 5.60 x €100 = €560, for a €460 net profit.

So simple.

Decimal Odds are the easiest way to calculate the total payout and it is the most common style in Europe. You will meet it also online as most of the online bookmakers use this option.

Betting in the US – Understanding Moneyline Odds

If you are going to be doing in gaming in the US, then you are going to come across moneyline odds.

Moneyline odds are used when you are betting on the outcome of a sporting contest, for example, who wins and who loses.

Depending on whether you are betting on a favorite or on an underdog, moneyline odds show two things. Either how much you win on a $100 bet or how much you need to bet to win $100. This is determined by whether the odds are negative or positive.

In this way, there is a plus  (+) sign or a minus  (–)  sign in front of the odds to show whether you are betting on the favorite or the underdog. A plus (+) sign means you are betting on an underdog and the number shows how much you would win on a $100 bet. A minus (–)  sign means you are betting on a favorite and the number shows how much you need to bet to win $100.

To understand better let’s say that we see odds of +110. This means that if we bet $100, our total payout would be $210. Meaning we have $110 clear profit. If the odds are -150 then to win $100 clear profit we would have to risk a stake of $150.

One example is a baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Chicago Cubs. The Yankees are expected to win and are the favorites.  Because the Yankees are favourites the bookie sets negative odds of -400. This means you must bet $400 to win $100. Because this side is expected to win the bookmakers make you risk a large amount to balance the bet.

On the other hand, we might have the Chicago cubs as the underdogs. Since most of people would bet on the favorite, the underdog’s payout price in case of winning is increased to make the bet more intriguing. In this case the Cubs might set postive odds of 400. Hence, if you bet $100 then your payout will be $500, with a clear profit of $400.

So that’s moneyline odds. What could be simpler?