Betting has evolved so much throughout the years to the point where it is now a favorite past time for many and the markets available to bet on range from mainstream sporting events to the really obscure.

Throughout this article, we will look into the history of betting and help explain how the gambling industry functions.


Betting odds, in theory, represent the probability of a sports outcome occurring. Therefore you will be able to work out how much money you will make from your bet based on the amount of money staked.

Odd NameExampleDescription
Decimal5.0To calculate the payout with decimal odds all you need to do is multiply your stake by the odds. For example, a bet of $10 will return $50. This amount will include your stake so the Profit will come to $40.
Fractional4/1On the left-hand side, you will see how much profit you will make from the stake on the right-hand side. In this example, a bet of $10 will return $50. Profit = $40
American+400With American odds, there will be a plus sign before the amount to indicate the amount you would be in profit for every $100 spent. When there is a minus sign before the amount the opposite will occur. In both scenarios, you will have your initial stake returned and the profit indicated by the odds.
Hong Kong4.0With Hong Kong odds all you have to do is multiply your stake by the odds. In this example, a bet of $100 will result in a profit of $400. The odds here do not include the stake that will be returned.
Indo+4.0There are two types of Indo odds. Positive and negative. A bet placed with odds at 4.0 would mean that you will make 4 units for every one unit wagered. Plus the amount you staked.
Malay-0.2500When displayed as a negative number, Malay odds represent the unit amount a better would be risking to win $1.
Implied Probability20%Implied probability refers to the chances of your bet winning. If your bet needs to win 1 in 5 times to break even your implied probability will be 20 %.
Summary of the common odd types.
different types of betting odds
The different types of betting odds.


Bookmaking is nowadays extremely sophisticated. Many factors go into deciding odds. These factors will depend on the number of people betting on an outcome, the previous form of the teams or individuals competing. Even the weather can play a significant role in changing the odds.

Bookmaking is a pillar of online betting and it has complex mathematics behind it to make bookmaking profitable to the bookmaker.

Betting Markets

Betting Markets refer to the particular sport you are betting on. As betting has evolved it is now possible to bet on markets within markets. In football, for example, it used to be the case that you could only bet on the outcome of the match but these days it's possible to bet on many things in the game which don't center around the final result.

In recent history, the amount of sports available to bet on has grown considerably. Now most bookmakers offer multiple sports to bet on as well as occasional nonsporting events such as general elections.

Sports Betting

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Sports betting is where you can bet on the outcome of sporting events. Some of the most popular sports markets in Europe being soccer, tennis, and golf. However, the number of sports available to bet on bookmakers can be over 30. In the US and North America, American Football, Basketball, Baseball, and Ice Hockey tend to be incredibly popular. Cricket is also a massive betting market in India, the UK, and Australia.

The Premier League has the most number of bets placed on it but other events such as golf majors, snooker tournaments, and the six nations rugby receive many bets. There are also many obscure markets available for most mainstream bookmakers. For example, it is possible to bet on football matches in Japan and Handball matches in Finland. Each country has its own set of popular sports to bet on, like the US with NHL and NBA.

Horse Racing Betting

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Horse racing betting is one of the most traditional forms of betting. There are races all over the world daily meaning that horse racing is something that can be bet on with frequency.

There are multiple types of bets that can be placed on horse racing that include single bets where you back a horse to win the race outright to place bets where you can bet on a horse to finish in the first few positions.

Greyhound Racing Betting

greyhound racing betting

Greyhound racing betting is similar to horse racing as there are typically 100's of races every day throughout the world. Races are over in about thirty seconds which can result in a thrilling gambling experience.

Greyhound betting is very common in Australia, Ireland, and in most of the United Kingdom. The welfare of retired racing greyhounds has been a concern for years now, which has penalised the sports as a whole especially with younger bettors.

eSports Betting

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eSports betting is a recent phenomenon. ESports can be defined as professional gamers competing against each other as they would in any other sport.

As eSports have become more popular bookmakers started adding it to their available markets. There are now a few bookmakers that solely focus on eSports.

Politics Betting

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Some bookmakers have markets dedicated to politics betting. This is most common when there is a world event that is covered hugely by the media, such as a US election or the Brexit talks.

Politics betting is likely to only be seen on more mainstream bookmakers.

Financial Betting

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Financial betting refers to betting on the speculation of the market. Meaning that it is possible to bet on if a particular financial market will increase or decrease in value.

If the market moves in the direction you have predicted you will be able to cash out for profit.

Betting Types

It used to be the case that the types of bets available were extremely limited. However, today there are so many bets available that in this article we can only give a brief overview of the types of bets available on the market.

Fixed-Odds Betting

Fixed odds betting is when punters bet against odds that have been set by the bookmaker. The 'fixed' part meaning that there will be no fluctuation on the payout whatever occurs.

This is the most traditional type of betting. When you enter a betting shop on the high street, the odds you will see advertised and on screens are, nearly all of the time, fixed-odds.

Betting Exchange

Betting exchanges have revolutionized the gambling industry. Betfair and Smarkets are the most popular exchange sites available.

The odds on an exchange site are not set by the bookmaker, they are set by other users of the exchange. If you were to back a bet you will be betting on the outcome to occur. If you were to lay a bet you will be betting against that outcome to occur.

Betting exchanges are viewed in a similar way to the stock market. This is because it is possible to open and close trades for various levels of profit without the high risk of your account being closed.

Parimutuel Betting

Parimutuel betting are types of bets that can be placed on horse racing, greyhound racing, and a few more racing competitions. The money collected from gamblers instead of going to a bookmaker goes into a tote pool (a totaliser, or totalizer).

After the market is closed all the money in the tote pool will be dispersed equally to the people who hold winning tickets. It is important to note that tote sites will take between 10 and 20 % of the total pool. In parimutuel (pool betting), odds fluctuate until the last and final wager has been accepted and definitive odds are only available once the race starts and all bets are off.

In-Play & Live Betting

In-play betting is when punters can place bets on a game that is currently taking place.

Many like this form of betting as you can watch the game you are betting on making the experience more exciting. You can also get a feel for the game and place a bet according to what you think will happen based on what you are watching.

Most mainstream bookmakers will offer their own streaming of certain sport events.

Spread Betting

Spread betting is a very risky type of betting. This is because the amount of money you win or lose will be depending on a specific outcome of a game. For example. If you were to bet on the amount of goals in a game, the odds and stake might mean that you will make $5 for every goal that happens above the 2.5 over/under market. In this instance you can only lose $10.

However, if you bet on the under market, there is no limit to what you can lose.

Daily Fantasy Sports

Fantasy sports involves selecting players from a league and collecting points when they do well during a season. Different organizations will have different scoring systems but all of them will revolve around players being successful.

Payouts for these can be huge and various payouts will be based upon the weekly and yearly performances of the players you have selected.

Betting Systems

A betting system is where a strategy can be employed to help people become successful in betting. Good betting systems are usually math-based and the amount staked will be dependent on some factors such as the odds on a selection and percentage of bankroll.

Some betting systems are risk-free. These don't return a lot of profit but for many punters like these systems as it can be a reliable outcome. While other systems that carry more risk will have the potential to have higher payouts.


Arbitrage betting is where you bet for and against the same outcome in a sporting event on different sites in order to make a guaranteed profit. This can be done by betting on different bookmakers or it can be best done using one bookmaker and an exchange site.

Matched Betting

With no-risk matched betting, it is possible to use the bonuses bookmakers offer and use them in such a way you are making a risk-free profit.

There are several advanced strategies full-time matched betters employ to make a profit but the most basic exploitation of these offers is as follows.

You place a bet on a bookmaker to activate the free bet and then you lay against this bet using an exchange site to more or less break even. You then do the same process with the free bet meaning you will make a profit whatever the outcome.

You can repeat this system with every bookmakers that has sign up offers.


Hedging a bet is a strategy that involves placing a bet against your original bet. This is an advanced strategy with the aim of either minimizing losses or guaranteeing a profit depending on how the original bet is looking.

This bet has to be executed while the match is in play and it will be beneficial to have a plan in place for what to do in different scenarios.

Kelly Criterion

The Kelly Criterion comes with two basic components. The first component is the probability of the win and the chances that any given trade will provide a positive amount.

The second component is the win/loss ratio. This consists of the entire positive trade amounts divided by the totality of the negative trade amounts.


The Martingale system consists of doubling your bet every time you have a losing bet. This system applies to bets with odds that are even. Therefore it is most commonly applied on the black or red selection on roulette. Another name for this is the parlay betting system.

Oscar's Grind

Oscar's Grind is a betting system that can be employed on bets where both the outcomes are of equal value. For example a coin flip. The idea of this betting system is to quit when you have achieved one unit of profit.

When there is a losing bet you shall bet the same amount and continue doing this until you win. After you win one you should double the stake of the previous bet. If you are one unit of profit ahead you can start the system over again.


The d'Alembert works in a similar way to the martingale system. Only this time instead of doubling your stake you will need to add one unit to your stake.

Therefore if you bet $1 on red and the bet loses the next bet will be $2. If this bet loses again you shall stake $3 and so on.

Labouchere System

To use the labouchere system you will first need to decide how much money you want to win.

Then you will need to write a system like the one below. Then take the amount from the left hand side and the amount from the left hand side and add those two numbers together.


When the bet is won we will need to cross these two numbers from the list. If our bet won our new system will look like this.


To follow the system correctly you shall complete this system until you have won the money you set beforehand.

Insurance System

With insurance system you need to place bets on 1-12 and 24-36. Then as insurance, you will need to place bets on 1-18 and 19-36 with a stake that is twice the value of the amount placed on the previous bets.

Negative Progression Systems

The negative progression system is based on increasing your bet size after every losing bet. Additionally, when you have a winning bet you will need to decrease the size of your bet.

Positive Progression Systems

Positive progression systems encourage punters to bet more when they are winning and less when they are losing. The theory here is to minimize your losses and to capitalize on your winnings.

Paroli System

The Paroli System works in the opposite direction of the Martingale system and is regarded as a less risky system.

If you have $1 and your bet loses, you will need to stake the same amount again. If the bet wins though you will need to double the stake for the next spin to $2. If successful again the next stake will be doubled to $4 and the bet following will need to be $1 regardless of the outcome of the previous bet.

History of Betting

The first record of sports betting dates back over 2000 years ago. The Greeks introduced the Olympics to the world and this event was known to be gambled on.

Gambling then moved on to gain popularity in Rome where it became more socially accepted and in some instances legalized. The Romans used to bet on gladiator games and after some time the business of gambling spread throughout the rest of Europe.

In more recent history, horse race betting became very popular in England. This later spread to the US and in both countries, it still remains hugely popular today. During this period if you wanted to place a bet you would be limited to placing them either at a race track or a betting shop.

The advent of online betting in the early 2000s transformed betting considerably because now virtually everyone can place a bet without having to leave their home.

Today, betting is popular all over the world with very few countries not being able to take part in gambling whatsoever. It is especially popular in Europe though which can help explain why the biggest bookmakers originate from this continent.