The Ultimate Guide to Short and Long Odds

Even though you have heard the terms short and long odds over and over again, there is a possibility you do not know what they mean. There is no shame here. Ask a casual gambler on the street to explain the terms, and they will likely look nervous and say something like “one is short, and well the other is long.” To add authority to their definition, they may use their hands close together and then far apart and end with “of course” to prevent further questioning.

Our mission is to give you a more authoritative answer to this question. Then, when asked, you can genuinely sound like the expert in front of your friends.

Short and Long odds, the basics

It is a way to describe the odds. Another way of saying this is that it is a means of communicating the chances of something happening.

‘Short odds’ is another way of saying odds on, or that this outcome will likely occur.

‘Long odds’ is another way of saying odds against, or that it is a long shot if this bet wins out.

If there is a massive mismatch between two teams, with one favourite to win by a long way, the odds on that stronger team will likely be short odds.

A little more detail

It is highly likely if the bet is described as short odds, then the odds are lower than evens. With evens, you get the amount of your stake returned plus the stake. Therefore, you win what you bet. If the odds are short, then you could be given odds of 1/2. This means you will end up with half the amount you bet as your winnings, plus your stake back. This is the bookmaker saying that this is as close to a sure thing as possible and they are not going to offer better odds and therefore risk their profit margin.

Long odds are the other way around. The bookmaker is convinced that the outcome you select will never happen. You are choosing to back a heavy underdog. At this point, they may offer the long odds of 7 – 1, where you will receive seven times the amount you bet, plus your stake back. You are rewarded for taking the risk.

How to act on these definitions

It’s all well and good knowing what the terms mean, but what do you do in response to the description. Sounding like an expert only gets you so far in football betting. Generally, it is worth keeping in mind that sporks books are highly motivated to get predictions right. You, as the gambler, are looking for those places when they have got it wrong.

Therefore, there is little point in betting on short odds. If the bookie is wrong, you don’t get much return on your bet. If you are wrong, which you may be because sure things don’t exist in sport, then you lose everything.

Long odds look appealing, but it is highly likely that you will lose. However, on a bet of 7-1, you only need to win once every seven bets to break even. If you are right more than this, with the bookie being wrong, then you make a profit. Nobody wins all the time, so it is best to work in a system that acknowledges this truth.

If you are a skilled bettor, a killer with the stats and you have your ear to the ground of gossip in football; then you will be right a lot more times than wrong on long odds. You need to assess the odds across a football weekend and find those places with a sports book has missed something you know. You then bet on this. For instance, you may be aware of discontent in the Chelsea dressing room. You understand that the star striker was hobbling a little at the end of the last match and is unlikely to play. The goalkeeper is also in a weak thread of form. So, even though Chelsea are playing West Ham, you calculate that the Hammers will come good in the derby, despite the bookies offering 8 – 1 on a West Ham win. This is your bet, and this is where there is the most value for your money.

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