What Does Odds On Mean In Betting?

odds on bet exampleThe term ‘odds on’ is one that regular punters become familiar with very quickly. Indeed, it even has usage outside the arena of betting, as somebody in a casual conversation often utters the term to emphasise how a particular event is almost certain to happen.

This shows the broader cultural impact that betting continues to have, but in a literal sense, what does ‘odds on’ actually mean? In essence, odds on simply means that there is a very likely chance of something occurring – in this case – a successful bet outcome. In terms of betting, if a horse, player or team is odds on, the bookmaker believes there’s a greater likelihood of them winning than not.

If the phrase ‘evens’ in betting refers to a 50% chance of success, then ‘odds on’ generally means that the scales are tipped slightly (or not so slightly) in your favour (e.g. a 60% or 70% chance of winning rather than 50%).  It is the opposite of odds against.

How The phrase Is Used In The Betting World

meter showing probabilities from unlikely to certain with needle near certainIf you are a die-hard fan of sports betting, you often hear an event being called odds on. The term is used in the sports betting world and in general conversations to explain that a given event is looked upon as a near certainty. Odds on can only be applied when the odds are less than 1/1, 2.00 or evens. The term isn’t applicable if the odds are greater than or equivalent to evens.

Just one entrant in a race, match or competition can be odds on. It isn’t possible to have two entrants that the sportsbook believes will likely emerge the winner. As a result, the odds on selection are always the favourites for betting.

For an example of what this looks like in practice, let’s use a simple coin toss. Here, so long as the conditions are neutral (i.e. the coin isn’t damaged or tossed in an unfair manner), then there is a 50/50 chance of the coin landing on either heads or tails.

However, if we were to toss said coin twice in a row, suddenly the odds of it landing on tails both times would drop to a one in four chance – or 3/1 in betting terms. This means that there are now three alternative outcomes to the one you desire.

Crucially, if we change this and instead consider the likelihood of it landing on heads once and tails once – regardless of the combination – the arithmetic changes once again.

Here, the chance of this outcome is 50/50 because the second coin just has to do the opposite of the first. This would be expressed as ‘evens’ by bookmakers, and from there, any outcome which is more likely to happen than not would be regarded as “odds on”.

Applying this to the coin analogy, any bet that predicted tails turning up on either coin toss would be 1/3, with a 75% probability of happening. Thus, any person who made that bet would then be “odds on” to win.

Odds On Practical Examples

example odds on market

Let’s take an example of an FA Cup game between a Premier League team (at home) and a Championship side (away). Obviously, the odds for the Premier League team would be low, say 1.07, while those for the Championship side will be 17.00. In this match, the odds for a draw can be 8.50.

The Premier League side is a heavy odds-on favourite to win this game. For a £1000 wager, the payout would be £1070. That is a profit of £70, which means an odds-on bet will always pay less than your initial stake if your bet wins.

Several selections can become odds on. For example, a greyhound might start ante-post at odds of 2/1 and drift into odds on. The actual winning chances did not change the confidence gamblers have in emerging the winner. And that means odds on wagers are not only favourites but can also reflect accurate probabilities.

Odds On Betting and Multiples

odds on multiple bet exampleWhile odds on bets offer fewer winnings than the original stake, you can increase your returns by building multiple wagers such as accumulators, trebles and doubles. For instance, if you place a four-fold accumulator bet that includes odds of 1.22, 1.66, 1.06 and 1.25, the total odds will be 2.69. If you stake £1000, you will get £2690. However, this technique of betting isn’t without its disadvantages. The more you increase the number of bet selections, the higher the likelihood your bet will lose since one losing selection damages the whole wager.

Betting knowledge and research are the foundation of building up your gambling bankroll in the long run, even with odds on bets. Remember that not each odds-on favourite will emerge a victor, and it’s your responsibility as a bettor to evade backing potential slip-ups. Factors like player injuries, suspensions, form and home ground advantage are worth considering before you place your odds-on bet.

Odds On bets Aren’t Especially Valuable For Players

wooden figure holding blocks saying price and valueShould a punter put £1 on that particular coin bet at odds of 1/3, they would only make a profit of 33p, as this is viewed as more likely to happen than not. To summarise, then, ‘odds on’ essentially denotes any price that is shorter than ‘Evens’ – as it has a high probability of occurring.

What’s also important to note is that, in a sporting context, ‘odds on’ will frequently refer to a big favourite in a given event. Tight contests, like football matches, for example, may not even have an “odds on’ outcome, but if one team is vastly superior on paper, they will generally be heavy odds on favourites.

The favourite is most visible in horse racing. You will see an ‘F’ alongside the horse’s odds when they are the clear or standout favourite. If more than one horse has the same odds of winning according to the betting market, this will be displayed as ‘JF’ – which stands for joint-favourite.


As we have shown, odds on is a simple and effective way to describe an outcome that is likely to occur – generally in a sporting context. So, when making your bet selections, look out for odds of 1/3 or 1/5 as you do so, as they would be classed as the ‘odds on’ bets we previously laid out.