Betoptimizr betting guide: A to Z to win bigger!
What type of bets are there? How does a bookmaker make money? Why is the average payout percentage so significant? What is the difference between pre-match and in-play? Questions you may know the answer to, or maybe not. Anyhow, betoptimizr gathered all the information you need to know about sports betting: the betoptimizr betting guide. Become an even better player and win bigger!
Our betting guide consists of 7 easy to read sections:
Section 1: The player and the online bookmaker
Section 2: The profit of an online bookmaker
Section 3: Odds, inside out
Section 4: All the bet types
Section 5: Pre-match vs in-play betting
Section 6: Hedging your bets
Section 7: Bonuses
Section 1: The player and the online bookmaker
Sports betting is one of the most popular gambling pastimes for many players all over the world. Sports betting is the activity of predicting the result of a sports event by placing a wager on the outcome of that event. For most players, sports betting is an addition to the sporting match itself. It enhances the joy of (watching) sport.
You name a sport, and it is possible to place a bet on it. Almost all sports events, at all levels both professional and amateur, are prone to wagering.
The most popular sport to bet on worldwide is without a doubt football (or soccer). Horse racing is probably a good second, followed by the likes of tennis, golf, American football, basketball, baseball, darts and boxing. The popularity of specific sports bets is in some cases instigated by region. Betting on golf is popular in the UK but probably not so much in Greece.
In some countries, betting is also allowed on non-athletic events such as E-sports, political elections, talent shows, the Brexit and even the names of Royal children that have yet to be born.
In short, if there is a non-predetermined outcome, you can be sure at least one bookmaker takes bets on it!
A bookmaker is a business that offers betting propositions on sporting and other events. Other names for bookmaker are amongst others: sportsbook, bookie, betting operator and online provider.
The betting proposition is agreed upon through odds. A bookmaker determines the possible payout of a particular stake and gives the player odds on the outcome. If the prediction of the bet is correct, the bookmaker will pay out accordingly. The odds that bookmakers use is fixed, this means that the odds that are given when making a bet must be honoured at all times.
Bookmakers operate both online and offline (betting shops, horse racing tracks, casino sportsbooks). Most bookmakers are active either online or offline. A few do both, like Ladbrokes, William Hill, Paddy Power and Betfred.
Although betoptimizr focuses on online betting, the knowledge and information on this site can also be used to your advantage when placing an offline bet.
A player (sports bettor, punter, customer) is a person that places a bet with a bookmaker. In the UK, the term that is most used for persons placing a bet is “punter”. In the other English spoken countries, they are usually called “players” or “sports bettors”.
The total sum of money that is placed on a particular outcome (a bet) is called the stake. In the UK this is also referred to as the total amount wagered (or wagered amount).
The payout is the amount of money which is paid out to the bettor for every winning bet. Bookmakers, like most companies, seek to obtain maximum profits and minimise losses. At the same time, they want to take as many chances as possible. But a massive payout on a big “one-off” bet or large accumulator can be of significant influence on their financial results. To minimise their risk, most bookies implement a maximum payout on wagers, especially on multiple bets (accumulators or parlays). The maximum payouts can be found in the Terms & Conditions.
Besides a maximum payout, most bookmakers also impose restrictions on some the maximum amount a player can bet. This betting limit also allows bookmakers to minimise their risk. Betting limitations is one the biggest thorns in the side for players.
SECTION 2: The profit of an online bookmaker
Bookmaking is a business, so profit is the primary goal of all online bookmakers. To offset the operational costs like overhead, software systems, staff and marketing expenses, online bookmakers try and pay out less than the total amount staked. This is called the margin. The margin of an online bookmaker is the entire stake minus the payout of all winning bets.
A bookmaker makes the profit by offering the odds in their favour. They will aim to guarantee a profit whatever the outcome of a sporting event by achieving a so-called ‘balanced book’. This is accomplished by trying to get an equal number of bets on each result of the sporting event. So the odds for all outcomes need to be attractive enough for players to place a bet.
By applying a margin in the odds, the bookmaker will try and make a profit. If a significant amount of money is placed on one particular outcome, the bookmaker will change the odds to attract more bets on other results, thus “balancing the book”. Sometimes a bookmaker may also lay off the risk by placing bets at other bookmakers (hedging).
The average payout percentage
An average payout percentage of 95% means that the player will, on average, be paid 95 out of every 100 that is staked. On average, 5 of every 100 that is staked (5%) is kept by the bookmaker. This is also known as the bookmaker’s betting margin. It is evident that a higher average payout is more appealing to the players.
The average payout percentage calculation?
Calculating the average payout percentage is possible for every single bet. On a bet that has two possible outcomes (a two-way bet such as a tennis match) the payout ratio is calculated as follows: 100 / (100/odds outcome one + 100/odds outcome 2)
- Tennis player A to win: 4.0
- Tennis player B to win: 1.2
The average payout percentage for this particular example is: 100 / (100/4.0 + 100/1.2) = 92.3%
The bookmaker’s betting margin (profit) is therefore 7.7%.
On a bet that has three possible outcomes (a three-way bet such as a football match) the payout ratio is calculated in the same way: 100 / (100/odds outcome 1 + 100/odds outcome 2 + 100/odds outcome 3). An Example:
- Home team to win: 10
- Draw: 50
- Away team to win: 0
In this case, the average payout percentage is 100 / (100/1.10 + 100/9.5 + 100/26) = 95.0%
The bookmaker’s betting margin (profit margin) is therefore 5.0%.
SECTION 3: Odds, inside out
What are odds?
Odds are a reflection of the chance or probability of a particular outcome in an event. With every game, there is an absolute chance of a result taking place. The odds are merely an interpretation of the bookmaker of the probability.
Odds are expressed in either fractional or decimal. Fractional odds (for example 12/5) are most common in The United Kingdom and Ireland, while players in the rest of Europe, Australia, Canada and New Zealand prefer decimal odds (for example 2.4). Most bookmakers allow you to choose how the odds are displayed. Payouts on fractional odds and decimal odds are the same.
In decimal odds, the payout includes your original stake. Decimal odds reflect the chance of an outcome of a sporting match. To convert an opportunity to decimal odds, you need to divide the odds against the percentage you think the probability of a result will become true. So, if you think a team has a 25% chance of winning the match, then the decimal odds will be 100/25 = 4.
- Home team to win: 10
- Draw: 50
- Away team to win: 0
Should the punter bet 100 on the home team to win, he will be paid out 110.
If the result is a draw, the punter will get 850 on a 100 bet.
Should the away team win, the punter will receive 2,600 on a 100 bet.
Whenever the outcome of an event is very likely (in this case, for the home team to win), the odds are close to 1.
- In this example, the home team is a clear favourite to win a home game against a much weaker opponent – leading to odds of “only” 1.10.
- The chances of the away team to win this game are significantly lower – that is why the odds on this bet are a high 26.0.
- In many such cases, Bookmakers will offer the same match also as “Asian Handicap.”
Fractional odds are also known as British odds, UK odds or traditional odds. Fractional odds will reflect the profit a punter makes on a winning bet. The initial stake is not included in the odds. This is the most significant difference compared to decimal odds. Fractional odds are displayed in the form of a fraction, making it a bit harder to calculate your winnings.
- When the fractional odds are 1/4, a stake of 100 will pay out 125. The profit on the bet is 25.
- With fractional odds of 8/5, a stake of 100 will result in a total payout of 260, a profit of 160.
- With fractional odds of 3/1, a stake of 100 will pay out 400. The profit will be 300
Below a table that converts decimal odds into fractional odds and vice versa
Click for example
Total payout (including
a 100 stake)
SECTION 4: All the bet types
Online bookmakers can offer hundreds of different bets on a football match. 1×2 is probably the most popular bet, but there are many more to choose from. All the bet types have different risks. As a result, various odds are set by the bookmakers. An outright bet on West Ham United winning the Premier League (low probability) may have a payout between 1000-1 and 5000-1. A bet on Chelsea to win their home game against Swansea (a very high chance) may result in 1-4 odds (1,25 in decimal).
We will not explain all the bet types available, but we will take you through the most common bet types available with online bookmakers.
The single bet
A single bet is a straightforward bet on one selection on one event. Your selection must be successful in winning. In some sporting events, only two outcomes are possible (Tennis, Darts and Basketball) as these sporting events do not have draw possibility. In Football, there are three possible outcomes: a win, a draw and a loss.
An accumulator (multiple, combination, Parlay Bet, Acca, Roll Up) is a bet on some multiple selections. The winnings of an accumulator bet are calculated by multiplying the odds of all the picks with the initial stake. There are two types of accumulator: the straight accumulator and the combination accumulator. A straight accumulator consists of just one bet. The combination accumulator comprises of all possible combination bets based on the number of matches selected. The possible combinations are usually called folds.
Example combination accumulator for four matches (A, B, C and D):
- 11 bets in total
- 1 four-fold: A x B x C x D
- Three three-folds: A x B x C, A x C x D and B x C x D
- Six two-folds: A x B, A x C, A x D, B x C, B x D and C x D
With the combination accumulator, any right combination bet will win. If all four matches are winners in the above example, all 11 bets will win. If match A is a loser then only the matches without match A win (4 bets)
Accumulator bets can pay out huge amounts of money with only a small stake.
The outright bet
An outright bet is placed on the outcome of an entire competition, tournament, race or political event. Outright bets can be placed before the game (ante-post) and in many cases also during the event.
Examples of an outright bet:
- The winner of the Champions League (Football)
- The winner of the Premier League (Football)
- The winner of the Formula 1 race in Monaco (Motorsports)
- The winner of the USA presidential elections (Politics)
- The player that has the best result after the 1st round of a The Open Golf tournament (Golf)
Outright bets can be placed weeks or even months before the event starts, giving punters the opportunity to seek the best odds far in advance. The longer the time before an event the more uncertainty. Bookmakers are therefore inclined to offer higher odds.
The 2-way bet
This is a bet type with only two possible outcomes. It is most common in sports events where there are one winner and one loser. For example, in tennis, basketball, darts match or a snooker game. But Asian Handicap bets, Over/Under bets or Both Teams to Score bets, are for example also 2-way bets.
The 3-way bet
This is a bet type with three possible outcomes. It is most common in sports events where there a draw is also possible. For example, in a football match or a rugby match.
The Head-to-Head bet
In head to head betting (matchup), you mostly bet on the outcome of a match between two competitors. Usually on a broader field of competitors, such as in golf, horse racing, a cycling match or a motor race. Head-To-Head bets are often offered in sports where outright wagers are also available.
- England versus Spain in the football World Cup
- Verstappen against Hamilton in the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Monaco
- Froome against Contador in stage 12 of the Tour de France
- Rory McIlroy against Jordan Spieth in the first round of the US Open golf
- Usain Bolt versus Justin Gatlin in Olympics over the 100m sprint
The Win/Lose bet
The win/lose the bet or home/away bet is a bet type that revolves around which team (or player) wins and which team (or player) loses. There are only two possible outcomes. It is most common in sports events where there are one winner and one loser. For example, in tennis, basketball, darts match or snooker game. This is a 2-way bet.
The 1X2 bet
The 1×2 bet is a single, three-way bet with three possible outcomes:
- a home win (“1”)
- a draw (“X”)
- an away win (“2”)
1×2 bets are placed on games where a draw is a possible outcome such as in football, rugby or hockey. 1×2 wagers are 3-way bets.
The 1X2 bet with a handicap
A 1×2 handicap bet is substantially the same as a 1×2 bet with one difference: one team will get a handicap of 1 or more goals. Handicap betting is often used when one of the teams is considered to be much stronger than the opposing team. The stronger team will get a handicap of 1 or more goals to “even the odds” somewhat. This will lead to higher odds of the handicapped team. A 1×2 bet with handicap remains a three-way bet.
Please click below to view an example of a 1X2 bet with the handicap
Click for example
In the game Spain versus Macedonia, Spain gets a 3-goal handicap.
To get a result on a home win, Spain will need to win by 4 or more goals difference. If Spain wins by three goals difference, the result of this game is a draw. All other results lead to an “away win”.
The odds for this 1×2 handicap game are as follows:
- Home win (1): 1.95
- Draw (X): 4.33
- Away win (2): 2.75
Of course, the chance of Spain winning with a four-goal or more goal difference is much lower than the probability of Spain winning without a handicap.
As a result, the odds for Spain to win with a handicap went from 1.04 (no handicap) to 1.95 (with handicap).
The Asian handicap bet
This form of betting is frequently used with football betting. One of the teams within the bet gets a handicap of 0.5 or 1.5 goals, or 2.5 goals, 3.5 goals etc.
This kind of bet has two significant advantages:
- A stronger team gets a handicap, making the game more exciting and at this moment increasing a possible profit (i.e. providing higher odds) if the stronger team wins
- Asian handicap bets (with handicaps of, for example, 0.5 or 1.5 or 2.5 goals) only has two outcomes instead of three outcomes. With regular 1×2 betting, the draw is also an outcome. Many players find this a significant advantage.
Please click below for an example of an Asian Handicap bet
Click for example
For the football match, Spain against Macedonia, the odds of a bookmaker were respectively:
- For “1” (a win for Spain): 1.04
- For “X” (a draw): 23
- For “2” (a loss for Spain): 51
With an Asian handicap bet, Spain gets a handicap of say 3.5 goals. So, there is a “1” in case Spain wins with four (or more) goals difference. In all other cases, the outcome is a “2”.
The odds of the same bookmaker were for this particular bet:
- For “1” (a win for Spain): 1.95
- For “2” (a loss for Spain): 1.85
According to the odds above the match is now more or less considered even, as both teams have a similar chance of winning. This makes a bet more exciting. And with the “draw” eliminated, it becomes a 2-way bet.
The correct score bet
A potential lucrative bet where players need to predict the (exact) correct score of a sporting event. This bet type will offer higher odds than most other bet types due to the complexity of predicting the correct score. Odds on extraordinary scores (i.e. 2-5) will be significantly higher than odds on more current scores, such as 1-0 or 2-0.
The odds offered for these types of bets are usually much less attractive than for 2-way bets or 3-way bets. This is because the risk is higher for bookmakers and they need to have enough margin to compensate for this. Also, these type of wagers, have so many different outcomes that it is automatically less transparent. Bookmakers tend to take advantage of this, by gently lowering the odds.
The double chance bet
A double chance bet combines two outcomes. For example, a double chance bet on will pay out on 2 out of 3 possible results of the game. For instance, for a home win or a draw. The bet will not pay out if the away team wins.
The odds on Double Chance bets are considerably lower than odds on single bets as the player essentially get two bets for the price of one.
Please click below for an example of a double chance bet
Click for example
A bookmaker offers the following odds for Manchester United vs Arsenal:
- “1”: 2.50
- “X”: 3.30
- “2”: 2.75
The same bookmaker offers the following double chance odds:
- 47 (1: Manchester United to win + the draw)
- 55 (2: Arsenal to win + the draw)
- 40 (1: Manchester United to win + Arsenal to win)
The draw-no-bet betting type
A draw no bet a bet type with only two possible outcomes (home team wins, or away team wins). In the case of a draw, the bet is declared a “no bet”, and all stakes on the bet are returned to the player.
We see that the odds quality of these type of bets is not so attractive. The bookmaker does not like the idea that there is not a bet in the case there is a draw, just because less turnover will be made. The only way to compensate for this is by increasing the margin.
We, therefore, recommend players to play Asian Handicap bets instead.
Example of a Draw-No-Bet
Again, taking the Manchester United vs Arsenal game as an example, the bookmaker odds on the 1×2 bets are:
- For “1”: 2.50
- For “x”: 3.30
- For “2”: 2.75
The same bookmaker offers the following odds on the draw no bet:
- For “1”: 1.80
- For “2”: 1.91
The first half bet
The first half bet (or half-time bet) is a bet that is placed on the result of the first half of the game only. This can be any bet such as a 1×2 bet, Asian handicap or a special bet.
The second half bet
A similar bet to the first half bet, only this time the bet is placed on the result of the second half of the game only.
The even/uneven bet
With an even/uneven bet, the player predicts a total number on a specific event (the number of goals, the number of corners, the number of yellow cards, etc.) occurring during a match. The total number will be either even (1, 3, five etc.) or uneven (0, 2, 4, six etc.).
The Over/Under bet
The over/under bet is a prediction whether the total number of events (goals, corners, rebounds, throw-ins, etc.) is over or under the “line” that has been set by the bookmaker. The “line” is the threshold the bet must pass the be successful.
There is no draw possibility for this bet. This means you will win or lose your stake at the end of regular time (overtime and penalty shootouts do not count). The over/under bet is, therefore, a 2-way bet.
Over/under bets are very popular and frequently offered in in-play (live) betting. If, for example, a team already leads with 3-0, then the 1×2 bet is probably not on offer any more. But if you bet that over/under 3.5 goals are scored in the match, the excitement is back!
The Half-time / Full-time bet
Most bookmakers offer bets where the result for both the first half and the full-time result must be predicted. There are nine different outcomes to this bet (a 9-way bet):
- (1/1): Team A leads after the 1sthalf and Team A wins the game
- (1/x): Team A leads after the 1sthalf and the result is a draw
- (1/2): Team A leads after the 1sthalf and Team A loses the game
- (x/1): The result after the 1sthalf is a draw and Team A wins the game
- (x/x): The result after the first half is a draw and the result is a draw
- (x/2): The result after the 1sthalf is a draw and Team A loses the game
- (2/1): Team A is behind after the 1sthalf and Team A wins the game
- (2/x): Team A is behind after the 1sthalf and the result is a draw
- (2/2): Team A is behind after the 1sthalf and Team A loses the game
Example of a half-time/ full-time bet
Once again, if we look at the Manchester United vs Arsenal game, the bookmaker odds on the 1×2 market is:
- For “1”: 2.50
- For “x”: 3.30
- For “2”: 2.75
The same bookie offers the following odds on half-time/ full-time bets:
- “1/1”: 4.33
- “1/x”: 15
- “1/2”: 29
- “x/1”: 6.5
- “x/x”: 5.5
- “x/2”: 6.5
- “2/1”: 29
- “2/x”: 15
- “2/2”: 4.5
The other (special) bets
To increase the number of wagers on any given market, most online bookmakers will offer special bets to whet the appetite a little further.
Examples of special bets within the football market:
- The number of corners during a match (over or under a certain number of corners)
- The number of yellow cards (over or under the certain number of yellow cards)
- Will team A keep a clean sheet?
- Will any player score a hattrick?
- Will there be an own goal?
Most online bookmakers will offer between 20 and 50 special bets on most football games.
Players should be advised that the odds quality on these types of bets are worse than the more common bets such as 1×2 bets, Asian handicap bets or win/lose bets. This is because the volumes are lower and therefore more margin is required by the bookmakers to make up for the increased risk and costs.
SECTION 5: Pre-match vs in-play betting
In pre-match betting, the bet is placed before the match is played. This could be anything between a week and 1 minute before the game starts. Most online bookmakers offer bets five days before the matches are being played. At betoptimizr, we see quite some differences in the offerings over time by bookmakers.
In-play betting or live betting the bets are placed during a match. In-play betting odds will always change during the game, due to ever-changing circumstances. A two-goal lead, a red card for the goalkeeper, a striker that shows excellent form or even changing weather conditions can impact the odds during live betting on a game.
Most online bookmakers offer live betting on the most prominent sports. Due to the higher risks that come with live betting, the odds are usually lower on live betting than on pre-match bets.
Instant betting is bets which are on offer during the in-play betting environment. They are quick-fire bets that can be settled very quickly. Examples of instant bets are:
- Will the next attack lead to a shot on goal?
- Wil there be a goal in the next 2 minutes?
- Who wins next point, game or set?
- Will either darts player throw a 180 in the upcoming leg?
SECTION 6: Hedging your bets
Hedging a bet involves placing bets on a different outcome, or outcomes, after placing an original bet. The effect is that a situation is created where there is a guaranteed profit, whether the original bet wins or loses.
Hedging a bet on the winner of a football, tennis or golf tournament is one of the most common uses of the hedge-betting strategy. The best way to explain how hedge betting works is an example.
Please click below for an example of hedging a bet
Click for example
You have placed a bet that tennis player X wins tennis tournament and have staked 100 at decimal odds of 51.
The player manages to make the final of the tournament. If the tennis player wins, you will be paid out 5,100 – a nice profit of 5,000. If the tennis player loses, you get nothing. In this instance, you may decide to hedge your original bet by wagering on the other finalist. That way, you are guaranteed a profit, whatever the outcome of the match.
Another example. You have wagered an accumulator bet for ten matches (potential win 50.000). The first nine matches are predicted correctly. The final game is about to start, and the home team needs to win for the accumulator to pay out. If the home team wins the game, you win 50.000. You can now decide to hedge the bet by betting a substantial on the draw, and an away win.
Nowadays, most of the online bookmakers offer a so-called cash-out option. This feature gives you the opportunity to cash out on an open bet before the game has ended. However, you will get a lower payout for this cash-out option. This cash-out feature can be handy for players that have a “winning” bet and want to protect the result, even if it means taking a smaller profit.
This option is even available on “losing” bets, giving the player the chance to take their losses and recuperate a small portion of his original stake.
SECTION 7: Bonuses
Online bookmakers often give out welcome bonuses to new players. Examples of a welcome bonus are:
- a deposit bonus (deposit 20 and get 50 free play)
- a no deposit bonus (free ten bet)
- a combination of the two: (get 100% bonus plus a five free bet).
Be aware that you will need to meet the bonus terms. In order turn the welcome bonus into real money you often need to wager the total bonus money a certain number of times at minimum odds for it to be available in real cash.
Welcome bonuses are a great and relatively cheap way to get acquainted with an online bookmaker. Are the odds on offer appealing? How am I treated as a player? Are the deposit and withdrawal methods to my liking? Etc.