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To understand soccer betting odds, it helps if you understand how online sportsbooks make money.  The goal for a sportsbook is to balance potential payouts among all the potential outcomes of a match so that the stakes from losing bets will cover the winning bets.  Through the odds margins built into all outcomes, the sportsbook will be left with a very small percentage of the total amount wagered on the event as revenue for accepting bets on the event.

If the sportsbook does a bad job of balancing the potential payouts, they could be left to cover the winning bets from their own resources.  This is why handicap figures and odds prices change.  When a lot of money is being wagered on one outcome, the sportsbook will lower the odds price on the heavily wagered upon outcome and increase the odds price for the other outcome(s) and/or alter the handicap.  This is the sportsbook’s effort to shift betting interest to help balance the potential payouts.

Sportsbooks build their profit margins into the odds across all potential event outcomes.  These margin percentages vary from sportsbook to sportsbook and betting market to betting market.  Since soccer is so popular, most sportsbooks reserve their lowest margins for soccer betting markets, in particular 1x2 match betting.  However, the margins for each type of soccer betting market will vary and you can see these typical margins listed at left for the most popular soccer betting markets.  

When a sportsbook has low odds margins, they are returning more money to bettors.  Thus, when you deal with a sportsbook with lower odds margins, by simple math, they will likely have some of the best odds or very close for many of the potential match results.  It is however possible for sportsbooks with average odds margins to provide the best odds for a particular outcome.   If you only intend to have one sportsbook account, the figures at left will help you maximize your win returns over time by selecting sportsbook with low soccer odds margins.  

However if you want to maximize returns, especially when betting in combination where potential payouts can range widely, you may wish to use an odds comparison site like before you bet.  Odds on accumulators and multiples can vary up to 50% between reputable sportsbooks.

At left, you’ll find the odds margins offered on each of the most popular soccer betting markets by all of the main sportsbooks listed on this site.  This will help you to determine which sportsbooks will cater to your own betting preferences. These include 1x2 match betting, Double Chance, Draw no Bet and Asian Handicap.

Do low soccer odds margins guarantee the highest-paying odds on all outcomes?

The answer to this is ‘No, but...’  Odds margins give you an example of the overall value on offer from a given online sportsbook for a given betting market.  Odds margins are yielded from all the potential outcomes on offer for the given match.  So in other words, the margins account for how much of the total amount bet the sportsbook is keeping as their fee for ALL bets on a given match.

However, you are only betting on ONE outcome, not all three as in the case of 1x2 betting.  It is highly unlikely that one sportsbook company will always have the best available odds on all your chosen match outcomes.  In general,  a 2% to 3% margin sportsbook will likely have the best-paying odds (or very close) for at least one and possibly two of the three outcomes (Home Win, Draw, Away Win).  However, these one or two outcomes might not be the outcomes that you are interested in betting upon.   In fact, sportsbooks that offer margins of 4% to 5% or even higher can offer the best odds for one particular match outcome but lower value for the overall.  Here is an example of how this can happen:

Calculating odds margins:

This formula shows you how to calculate the odds margins for 1X2 soccer betting:

(1/Decimal Odds Home Win)*100 + (1/Decimal Odds Draw)*100 + (1/Decimal Odds Away Win)*100 = margin


Barcelona - 1.65    Draw - 3.70    Valencia - 6.80

(1/1.65)+(1/3.70)+(1/6.80) - 1 = 0.0234 or 2.34% margin

                          Barcelona     Draw       Valencia

2.34%  Margin

Sportsbook 1          1.65          3.70           6.80

4.84% Margin            

Sportsbook 2          1.75          3.30           5.75             

Notice that although Sportsbook 1 offers a far better margin value at 2.34% for the overall match odds compared to 4.84% (106% over all better value), if you are interested in wagering on the favourite, Barcelona, Sportsbook 2, with the higher overall margin is actually offering the best odds for your desired match selection.

What does this mean to you in practical terms?  Knowing that your sportsbook offers good value on their odds with low percentage margins is important, especially if you only intend to have one or two sportsbook accounts.

However to ensure you get the best odds for every match of interest, it is advisable to have accounts with several top sportsbooks and use odds comparison sites to view the highest current odds and and place your bets accordingly  In doing so, you are likely to ensure returns that are 10% to 15% higher on your wins over time.

Understanding soccer betting odds margins can help you realize better returns on your wins.  Lower odds margins lead to better odds and higher payouts on winning wagers.

Soccer Odds Margins