How Are Football Odds Actually Calculated?

We’ve all been in a situation where, despite our own blind optimism and high hopes for the season ahead, we are quickly brought back down to Earth when we realise that the bookies think differently. We might think that we have all of the know-how, or we might just have a gut feeling that this season is going to be the one, but that doesn’t change the fact that the experts think differently. If you have ever wondered how exactly the bookies calculate their odds for each team and what the process actually entails, this handy explainer could help you find out.

League data

First, let’s start with the essential odds themselves, without any margin or market factors. When compiling odds for each team, a quality football betting platform like bet365 will look at a huge range of metrics and data on each and every squad and player, such as:

Squad stats

Put simply, this includes the performance, wins, draws, and goals of the team in question over the past several seasons. Such calculations will also look at who they are up against and compare historical wins and losses against those opponents.

Player history

When calculating football odds, every single player comes under the microscope. The algorithms and calculations used by the bookies will look at every goal, assist, save, red card, and penalty that a player has ever been involved in. It will look at the recent time spent on the pitch, injuries, and transfer history, among myriad other factors.

Match conditions

Finally, the actual conditions of the match may play a role in the calculation of some bookmakers’ odds. Weather conditions may play a role, as well as whether the team is playing a home or away match. All of these factors can have a sizeable impact on the outcome, so they must be taken into account.

Cashflow calculations

Bookies act as market makers, so the conditions of the betting market will also influence the odds. For example, bookies will use previous data to calculate how much will be wagered on a particular outcome. In order to prevent themselves from losing all their money, odds will be substantially lower on popular outcomes.

Everyone wants to bet on Real Madrid, which is why many odds for this team will have almost no value, as the bookmaker would lose everything every time that Real Madrid wins. Conversely, unpopular outcomes have much more lucrative odds, in order to encourage people to wager on them.

Don’t forget the juice

The ‘juice’ is also known as the margin and it describes the little extra that bookies take off the top in order to make a profit. Typically, bookmakers will price odds at a slightly lower level than the ‘real’ odds would suggest, in order to give themselves a margin and make enough money to pay out everyone’s winnings. Although the juice is usually a modest sum, it is essential for sportsbooks to operate.

And that’s how the world’s top sportsbooks calculate football odds. Keep this in mind next time you are placing a bet.

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