Yes, sports betting is so much more than a game of chance.
It works on the basis of probability and likelihoods — only with the chance to win money.
Or lose it.
As with any battle, there are two sides. Punters, who are looking to win money, and bookmakers, who want to take it.
It is bookmakers who compile odds on any given event. It could be a horse race, a football match, a snooker tournament or even the outcome of a television talent show. And once they compile those odds, then gamblers can stake their money on who they think is the likely winner.
This is where it gets interesting.
For example, if a bookmaker is pricing up a football match, Manchester United could be available to back at even money. This means that the bookie believes there is a 50 per cent chance of them winning.
If their opponents are priced 4-1, it means bookmakers think they have a 20 percent chance of winning. This can be calculated as 1 / (4+1) = 0.20.
So where do you stake your money? That depends on your viewpoint. Are United worthy favourites? Are they in form? Have they any injury worries? What was the result the last time the two sides met?
But punters must also look at the price the bookmaker is offering. If you back United at even money (odds of 1-1) and they win, for every £1 you bet, you win £1.
But if you decide to back their opponents at 4-1 and they win, then for every £1 you bet, you win £4. So if you make a £10 bet, then you win £40, plus you get your £10 stake back.
If the team you back lose, then you lose your stake money.
But backing favourites all the time does not necessarily guarantee a profit. In horse racing, for example, only around 33 per cent of races are won by favourites. And because their odds are often short – less than 2-1 – it means you would lose more money than you win.
Conversely, backing a winning horse at 16-1 would earn you a major profit. But not many horses win at that price.
The best punter always has an edge and is able to work out if a horse or football team is overpriced. Again, they might see a horse is priced at 8-1, but they think a more realistic price is 3-1. It is then that they make their move. Their selection may not win, but over time they are likely to win more money than they lose.
The opportunities for punters are now almost limitless. There is the chance to bet on any major football league in the world, with markets stretching as far as how many corners will be awarded.
And if horse racing is your sport, then as soon as the UK racing finishes for the day, so American racing starts. And then the racing in Australia.