Calculation of Odds: Probability and Deviation

Calculating odds is a science, and statisticians/analysts, who can do the job competently, receive good annual salaries (GBP 50k-80k; €60k-95k: Quantitative Analyst).

These jobs are paid so well because the results form the backbone of each bookmaker’s business. The better an analyst understands his job, the bigger the potential profit margins for the bookmaker. In order to make long-term profits, a good understanding of odds calculation is therefore also essential for any bettor.

Man with 4 arms and juggling with calculator, abacus, note pad and penImage: alphaspirit (Shutterstock)

Probability of Football Match Results

Odds are based on the probability that a certain event occurs: for example a home win, a draw, or an away win in football games based on historical data. But what is the current probability of each of these outcomes and how are percentages computed? Also, from where does one get the data from?

The following diagram shows the distribution of results for the English Premier League for home win, draw, and away win during the last five complete seasons:

Results: English Premier League - 2005 to 2010 – Diagram

Looking at the graph, one can see that the distribution of results is rather similar for each year.

Without considering factors such as matches between strong or weak teams, teams under new management, rain affected games or anything else one can think of, fixtures in the English Premier League, according to the statistics, show on average 24.46% of all games were drawn, 27.35% ended in an away win and 48.16% were won by the home team:

Results: English Premier League - 2005 bis 2010 – Data from: www.sportpress.com

Only twice (of 15) did results fall outside of ± 2% residual from the average figures, being drawn games in 2005/2006 (-4.2%) and away wins in 2009/2010 (-3.4%):

Absolute deviation: English Premier League 2005 to 2010

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Last Update: 11 March 2011

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21 Responses to “Calculation of Odds: Probability and Deviation”

  1. scott
    29 May 2016 at 10:58 am #

    The minimum odds are computed as follows:
    Home win: 2.08 calculated odds multiplied by (1 minus ‘error’ 4.14%) = 1.99

    The maximum odds are computed as follows:
    Home win: 2.08 calculated odds multiplied by (1 plus ‘error’ 4.14%) = 2.17

    am i just being really stupid beacuse i cant seem to get these same answers when i do this sum??

    many thank!

    • Soccerwidow
      30 May 2016 at 7:29 am #

      Hi Scott, here’s the calculation a little bit more in detail. Hope it helps.

      2.08 calculated odds multiplied by (1 minus ‘error’ 4.14%) = 1.99
      1 minus ‘error’ 4.14% >> 1 – 0.0414 = 0.9586
      2.08 × 0.9586 = 1.9939 (rounded: 1.99)

      2.08 calculated odds multiplied by (1 plus ‘error’ 4.14%) = 2.17
      1 plus ‘error’ 4.14% >> 1 + 0.0414 = 1.0414
      2.08 × 1.0414 = 2.1661 (rounded: 2.17)

      Best wishes,

  2. Jimbo
    20 October 2016 at 5:03 pm #


    I just came across an app that offers the chance to win 50,000 to correctly predict the odds of two entire leagues.

    As an example it says if I can correctly predict 100% premier league results this weekend (10 games) + (10 games of the Spanish League)

    What is the average chance per game or the chance winning the 50,000?

    • Soccerwidow
      28 October 2016 at 6:32 am #

      Do you have to predict the expected odds (antepost), or predict the actual results which will be played? These are two completely different things.

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