High Odds That Make Bookies Confident

(Angelos Charisteas (first from left with white shirt), scoring Greece’s winner against Portugal in the final at Euro 2004)

Everyone involved in betting knows about this — some events are just ridiculous and nearly no one believes they will happen.

There are few types of those ‘crazy’ bets:

  • Odds range 4 to 7: Usually a bet on underdog. Can work out, especially in tennis, halftime/fulltime football betting or exact score that is likely to happen
  • Odds range 8 to 15: Suspicious bet — attracts eyes of other guys. Winning ones are celebrated in community and screenshots/scans of wagers are all over internet. Can be a bet on a draw in basketball.
  • Odds range 16 to 100: True crazy bet. No bettor can take this seriously. Some of horses coming out of nowhere can shock, but that is it. Or betting against Bayern playing at home against soon-to-be relegating club.
  • Odds range 101 to several thousand: Insane and laugh-off bet. Usually total waste of money. For instance BWin puts odd 10001 on San Marino to win Euro 2016 tournament. BWin maybe would be interested also in putting 100000 to 1 in the game, but truth is, there is barely single person putting more than 1 Euro on that to happen.

A short story that could have made me a hero

It was early 2004 when I was waiting for a bus, close to pub and betting office. I had some extra money in my local currency, that during my student’s time were equal to 2 Euros nowadays.

I went to betting kiosk first: there was Euro 2004 football championships soon to start. Favorites were clear: home team Portugal, strong Spain, Germany, France and some other high-profile teams. Underdogs were clear too: Greece and Latvia. Maybe you start getting my point.

Odds in this betting office were just ridiculous: 400 (same on Greece and Latvia). I started to think — come on, Greece is going to play opener — that usually never ends as favorite win. That can be a fresh start!

Then the story was just epic — Otto Rehhagel became a legendary figure in Greece and Angelos Charisteas had written his name into footballing legend. Greece have defeated hosts in opening game and in final too, becoming vital part of modern football history.

The outcome? That time I had a beer in pub nearby and later on, as tournament progressed, I started to feel wasted opportunity.

Summary

To sum up this story and give article point, sometimes miracles happen. Bookmakers make themselves over-confident to attract some players to bet on total jokes. Having this fine odd at 400:1 was just overpriced failure of this Slovakian bookie. Usually the odds were about 150–200:1. I personally estimated realistic probability of Greece winning to be 1% — that meant odds of 100, 4 times more likely to happen than this bookie thought.

How to identify when the bet is pure nonsense and when it makes sense? It is quite hard because we speak about high or extremely high odds, where probability of winning is small.

  • In general, betting on high odds is not recommended. The higher risk is there, the less amount of wagers is expected to win. Also you need to find a lot of betting opportunities.
  • Some events are really ridiculous. There is no chance that San Marino will be winning Euro 2016 championships. Just forget about that, no matter how big odds there are (if your calculated chance is below 1%, just go and try Bingo instead)
  • Odds over 100 are winning really rarely. There is usually few events over century when such an event wins, so don’t expect you are going to make a living from such a bets.
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