The online betting market is growing bigger in Africa.

With a lot of young people being drawn towards betting, here are some of the must-know terms that are commonly used in Africa for sports betting.


how to understand betting oddsIn sports “betting odds” are not the chances of an event of occurring, but the means to calculate the payout from a bet. In a way, they are similar to chance odds, but not exactly the same. For those wanting to understand betting odds, we explain not only what they are but how to read them.

Before deciding on a betting site, select the ones that have matches you have interest in and have at least a little knowledge about. It is also essential to compare different betting platforms for a particular match you are interested in to know where you are getting the best odds.

Sports Odds Explained

Let say the odds presented by an oddsmaker of Tottenham Hotspurs winning the match are 1/4 against Everton. Simply said betting odds are the discernment of these chances of happening to the eyes of the oddsmaker, the oddsmaker is an analyst for the online sportsbook you are using to take on the bet.

So gambling odds are not exactly a representation of which team has the best chances of winning, but according to supply and demand of the bet, that is gamblers buying one team to win more than the other, the odds will change according. The more the balance shifts to one side the lower the paying odds for the favourite and higher for the underdog or long shot.

With American Vegas Odds point spread and money lines odds are otherwise called “the line”. These type of bets are very popular with American sports like American Football and baseball, not so much with soccer.

There are mainly three types of odd formats which are commonly used:

  1. Decimal Odds
  2. Fractional Odds
  3. American Odds

Let’s take a look at all these three formats in detail for a better understanding of football odds.

1. Decimal Odds

Gambling Odds

Decimal Odds format is the one that is commonly used throughout Europe and in countries such as New Zealand and Australia. This is why Decimal Odds are also referred to as European Odds by American bettors. Africa also uses this system extensively now. Decimal Odds can be better explained through the use of an example:

Earlier, we had considered that Everton had a small chance to win the match against Tottenham Hotspur. To determine the decimal odds we divide 100 by the percentage of chance for the outcome to occur.

I.e. For Everton, 1/4 = 0.25

Stake: £100

Winnings: £100*0.25 = £25.00 With those odds you win 25% of you stake, not much value in that bet. You want to aim at 50% or more just to even consider a bet. Value Bettors claim only break-even bets and forward are to be considered of any value, that is bets that payout 100% or more.

When calculating your full return though the sportsbook will give you are higher value because it includes the initial stake in your payout, to include it add a 1 to your odds:

£100 * 1.25 = £125.00

Decimal OddsLet’s take a look at another football odd in the UK example:

Leicester vs Manchester United

The odds of Arsenal winning the match are 1.5. This means that if you bet on Leicester to win the match then you’ll get 150% the amount you bet if Leicester were to beat Manchester United.

So if you bet £100 on Leicester winning the match you’ll get £150 in return + your stake back.

2. Fractional Odds

Fractional odds

Fractional odds are the system of odds commonly used in the UK. Let’s use an example to learn how do sports betting odds work:

  • Arsenal win the Premier League – Let the odds of an Arsenal championship be 4/1.
  • 4/1 means that for every one time you can win you could lose four times. So the chances of Arsenal winning are at 20% while chances of them losing are at 80%.

Reading these odds, Arsenal should be a the top of the table but under the 3 favourites to win. Not a bad spot to take the bet, especially if they seem to be winning lately with losses at the beginning of the championship and their rivals seem to be weakening.

Fractional Odds

Suppose you have placed 10£ on Arsenal to win the Premier League at odds of 4/1 and Arsenal managed to do so. Then you will get in return £10*4/1=£40 + £10 (The money you initially bet) = £50.

*In fractional odds sportsbooks add the stake to the calculations by including a “1” to the fraction:

£10*(1+4/1) = £10* 5 = £50.00

3. American Odds

This is the system of odds commonly used in the US also known as American odds or Vegas odds.

Understanding American sports odds are a little bit more complex than the previous systems. The team which is considered to be the favourite is given a (-) sign to it. While the team which is considered to be the underdog is given a (+) sign.

So in a Chelsea vs Fulham match where Chelsea is considered the favourite (-150) while Fulham (+175), who will be referred to as the underdog as the less likely team to win.

Simply put you need to bet 150£ on Chelsea winning the match to earn a winning of 100£ if Chelsea manages the win. This is the disadvantages of betting for the favourite but it is a safer bet.

If you are expecting a surprise victory by the underdog (Fulham) then for every £100 on them you will win £175 in return. Underdogs pay large for their risk.

Live Betting

Live betting is very popular nowadays in sports betting especially, in Africa.

This is where one can live stream the game/match and get access to live stats and live dynamic odds. Most betting platforms/sites have this popular feature that contains more than enough options to be leveraged when betting.


A bookmaker is a licensed entity or individual who sets betting odds and accepts bets in a particular jurisdiction.

Selection of a bookmaker is the first step for every bettor. Bookmakers have various terms around the world like a bookie, sportsbook, linemaker or book.

Cash Out

Cash-out is the opt-out option that lets bettors withdraw their money before the game ends.

A bettor can withdraw a portion of their winnings before the match/game ends, which is known as partial cash out. Bettors also have the option to withdraw the entire amount of winnings from their bet. It is an additional safeguard provided to users of betting platforms so that they do not feel the burden of bets especially if they are of large amounts.


A stake refers to the amount of money at risk that is invested dependant on the outcome of a game/match when betting on sports.

A stake is also called a wager at times but the difference between the two is that a wager can be a part of the stake if there are multiple bets involved.

Multiple Bets

The term is pretty self-explanatory. It is when a bettor places more than one bet on a ticket.

This creates something that is popularly known as a betslip where each prediction must be correct to win the bet. There are some bookmakers that do reward bettors who get only 1-2 predictions wrong out of a total of 10-12. Multi betting may be risky but the returns are multifold and it can be very fruitful.


This is the amount a bettor/punter earns after a win.

The payout includes the original stake/wager placed more often than not.

First Deposit Bonus / Welcome Bonus

It is common for bookmakers and online betting platforms/websites to offer a first deposit bonus/welcome bonus to its users.

Customers can claim their welcome bonus once they register by opening an account with the betting company or make their first deposit. This is also sometimes called a sign-up offer on several platforms.


Deposit Method

This is one of the mandatory requirements for registering on a betting site/application.

Many betting platforms partner with mobile network providers or payment systems that facilitate the smooth deposit and withdrawal of money for betting. Customers can deposit money into their betting account through credit cards, debit cards, vouchers, bank transfers, and mobile wallets to name a few. All one has to do is select the deposit method they prefer.

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A wager is an act of betting a sum of money on the outcome of an unpredictable event.

A wager forms a part of the stake. It also refers to the amount of money that is risked on a result of a game/match. Another common word used for a wager is bet.

First Half Bet

As the name suggests, the bettor places a bet on the result of the first half of a game.

The outcome of the full game bears no consequence on the bet and the bettor wins or loses their money at the end of the first half. The bettor can cash out as soon as the first half ends if they win. The odds for first half bets are almost never the same as the result for the end of the game.

Asian Handicap

Asian Handicap Betting

Asian handicap betting is a way of football betting where it is said that the favourite to win is ‘handicapped’.

This means that the team is expected to win comfortably. Asian handicap betting does not offer a tie or draw. It is either win or lose, which means the bettor loses in case of a draw when betting on the favourite.

Closing Line

Odds are dynamic in nature. To avoid this, you can settle using the closing line.

Odds are posted by bookmakers before the game, which is generally fixed till some news is announced of player injuries or line-up announcements, the weather, and all other considerations that could lead to fluctuations in the odds. Odds change throughout the game given how it progresses, right up till the end of the game. To avoid this problem, one can select the odds before the game as the final odds to avoid the risk of fluctuations. This is called a closing line. The closing line in simple terms is known as closing odds as the odds are ‘closed’ at before the game begins.

Point Spread

Point Spread Betting ExplainedPoint spread betting is usually used in high scoring games such as Rugby and American Football, cricket and basketball. Unlike Money Line Betting where the bettor just needs to predict the winner, the point spread gives the underdog a certain point’s advantage over the favourite.

In other words, a handicap is used to make the bet more attractive to the eyes of the bettor as the teams are placed on a level playing field by giving the weaker team a certain point’s advantage on the overall result. 

Football Point Spread Bet Example

Let’s understand point spread betting better through the use of an example:

Liverpool FC is facing AFC Wimbledon at Anfield. At first glance, Liverpool is the sure winner and is everyone’s favourite.

Money bookers Odds:

Liverpool:              -2

Wimbledon:         +2

Here Liverpool FC is favoured to win against AFC Wimbledon by at least two goals, the minus sign will always be given to the favourite. Placing a bet on Liverpool to win against Wimbledon would require Liverpool to win by more than two goals for the bet to pay off.

Possible results when betting on the favourite, Liverpool:

Liverpool 3 – 0 Wimbledon  *Bettor wins

Liverpool 2 – 0 Wimbledon  *Push, this is a tie and the bet money is returned.

Liverpool 3 – 2 Wimbledon *Bettor loses

On the other hand, AFC Wimbledon is given a two-goal advantage on the end result, the plus sign will always mark the underdog. Placing a bet on Wimbledon would require for the team to win or lose by a minimum 1 point. Losing by 2 points ends in a push and losing by more the bet is a loss.

Possible results when betting for the underdog, Wimbledon:

Liverpool 0 – 1 Wimbledon  *Bettor wins

Liverpool 2 – 1 Wimbledon * Bettor wins

Liverpool 2 – 0 Wimbledon  *Push, bets are returned as this is a tie.

Liverpool 3 – 0 Wimbledon  *Bettor loses

So is Liverpool still a sure bet?

After watching this the underdog might sound appealing as Liverpool needs to win by more than 3 goals without Wimbledon scoring any goal, something hard to accomplish in football even if you got a super player team. Wimbledon could just post most of its players on its goal area and keep the scoring low. This is where your handicapping skills come into play…

  • What is more likely to happen?
  • How does the Wimbledon coach usually respond to superior teams as a visitor?
  • Do they get at least a scoring player?
  • Is Liverpool strong on its offence this season?

These are the questions that sports bookers do to themselves for determining odds. These should be the questions you should be doing to yourself as well. In terms of developing a handicapping system, there are several computer handicapping software that could come in handy.

Sportbooks use the point spread to even up the chances of a bettor winning or losing with either team and necessary in order to create liquidity.

Here is Another Point Spread Example:

Point Spread examples

Manchester City: –      -4

Portsmouth: –              +4

If you are betting on Manchester City they need to win by more than four goals for your bet to payoff.

Similarly, if you are betting on Portsmouth you can win the bet if Portsmouth loses by less than four goals.

Understanding the Push in Point Spread Bets

Sometimes bookmakers in order to avoid a push place the odds in decimal points, here Liverpool will be given an odd of (-2.5) instead of (-2) so there will be no chance for a push as no score in football ends this way.

Pick’em Bets

In a Pick’em game, when both the teams are considered equal in skill there will not be any point spread or the point spread is the same either way. So bettors can win the bet if his team manages to win the match, which is basically a money line bet.

Money Line bets or Point Spread bets – Which is better?

Money Line Bets are easier to bet on because you just need to trust you instinct on who the winner is going to be. On the other hand point spread bets even up the team selection and it’s harder to choose.

The one major difference between the two is Money Line offers a bigger reward for the underdog but with bigger odds of losing, and a smaller reward for the favourite but with less risk of losing the bet.


over under scoreTotals bets, also known as over/under bets, do not focus on the eventual outcome of the match like the money line and point spread do. All you have to do is bet on whether the total score of the match will be OVER a certain number of goals or UNDER a certain number of goals; this is the sum of all goals made in the match, not just one team. So if Arsenal 3 – 1 Manchester United = The total score is 4.

Simple, right?

Over-under bets have been gaining huge popularity in recent years because all bettors have to do is correctly predict the number of goals in the match and decide if they want to be under or over that number.

An average football game has somewhere between 2.4 to 2.8 goals per match total. In the English Premier League, it was approximately 2.62 goals per match for 2014 and in 2013 2.8 per match. La Liga (Spain’s premier football league) it’s 2.58 goals per match by the end of the year 2014.

Oddsmakers usually set the line at 2.5 goals; hence over-under betting is also called 2.5 goals betting.
*Oddsmakers set the over/under on odd numbers so there is no push or tie.

Totals, Over/Under bet – Premier League football example

Chelsea is facing Bolton in the third round of the FA Cup at home.

The odds of the game are not dependent on whether Chelsea manages to beat Bolton but how many goals are gonna be scored in the match.

The Oddsmaker has set the line at Over/Under 3.5 goals with the odds of being over 3.5 goals at 2.0 and the odds of the game having fewer than 3.5 goals at 1.1.

Over bet example:

Now if you bet 50£ on Over 3.5 goals then you will win the bet if four or more goals are scored in the match and you’ll lose the bet if only three or fewer goals are scored in the match.

Under bet example:

Liverpool is facing Manchester United in the finals of the champion’s league.
The Oddsmaker has set the line as Over/Under 2.5 goals.

Let’s look at three separate score lines for this match.

Liverpool 3-2 Manchester United
Liverpool 2-1 Manchester United
Liverpool 0-1 Manchester United

If you had bet for Under 2.5 goals then you would lose money if the scoreline ends Liverpool 3-2 Manchester United.

A Liverpool 2-1 Manchester United score puts you barely on the winner’s side with an Underscore of 3.
You will win the bet and get your investment plus the profit back if the scoreline was Liverpool 0-1 Manchester United.

And if you’ve gone with the Over?

If you had bet on Over 3.5 goals then you would lose money for the final scoreline of 0-1.

The bet would be also lost if the scoreline was 2-1, and you will win the bet if the scoreline was 3-2.

over under scoreWhen to bet the Over/Under

Usually, when a team like Manchester City is facing an underdog team like Burnley, bettors tend to bet on Over/Under bets because the chances of a high total score with Manchester City trampling Burnley are high. But oddsmakers know this and will set a hard Over/Under for the bettors.

Like any other betting format such as point spread and money line, Total or Under Over has its own risks, deciding to use it is totally dependent on the comfort of the bettor. Some bettors specialize on scores, other on who will win or lose and others on the players of the match.

Rookie bettors might try beginning their sports betting journey with Over/Under not because it is easy, but because it is simpler to understand than other betting odds.


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