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Not all sports betters are brilliant mathematicians, so in this article we intend to look at some of the very basic mathematics of sports betting.

The first thing we will look at is the probability of winning. If a bookmaker is offering 2/1, then for every £100 that is bet the punter will get back £300 which consists of winnings of £200 plus the original £100 stake. The amount of money put at risk (£100) is 1/3 of the total return if the bet is successful. This means that the bet would need to win one in three times for it to break even.

For clarity let’s look at another example. Assume that the bet was offered at 5/1, then £100 wagered would return £600, so the money risked is 1/6 the amount returned. In order to be successful the bet would need to come in more than one times in six. The respective values 1/3 from the first example and 1/6 in the second are called the implied probabilities of the bet.

Next we will look at value bets. A value bet is a bet that has more chance of making you money than it does have of losing you money. This is very closely related to the conditional probabilities described above.

Assume, as in the second example, that the bookmaker is offering odds of 5/1 so, as has already been described, you would get back £600 if you won. Consider that the probability of winning the bet is higher than the odds offered, say 2/9. Then the value of this bet would be the odds offered multiplied by the probability of winning, that is: (5/1) x (2/9) = 10/9 = 1.11

Identifying value bets is the key to success in sports betting but it is a difficult thing to do, particularly when it is impossible to be certain about the absolute probability of winning. Sports betting is not the same as betting in a casino because it is never possible to factor in every conceivable contingency. Far from being to its detriment, it is precisely that factor which makes it so interesting and exciting. There are many places online for you to have a free bet, to assist in understanding the above.