How to calculate the margin and choose the best odds

calculate the margin

Today, when there are many bookmakers, it is very important to choose those that offer the lowest possible margins and in this way give their players a fair chance to win. Why are margins important and why is it important to choose the best possible odds? In order to be profitable with bets in the long run, it is especially important that you take advantage of every advantage you can get in relation to the bookmaker.

In this article we will try to explain to you how to calculate which odds are good and how margins work.

What is margin?

The simplest word is the percentage advantage that the bookmaker has over the player. Therefore, when choosing odds, it is very important to play where the margins are lower.

Here is an example:

In an ideal world, the odds on a tennis match between Federer and Nadal would be 2:00 and 2:00. According to these odds, neither the bookie nor the player would have any advantage, but there would be a 50% chance on each side. In betting jargon, this situation is called a 100% market because it is a zero margin and would be the best possible odds to play.

Unfortunately, sportsbooks don’t work that way. Every bet has a margin, more or less, but this is simply the price to be paid for a particular bet in a bookmaker and this is how bookmakers make a profit. Therefore, it is very important to know how to calculate the margins, so that you as a player will know whether it is worth taking a certain odds or not.

Of course, there are also automatic calculators that you can find on the Internet. You can find a very good one here,

How to calculate the bookmaker’s margin?

calculate the bookmaker's margin

Calculating margin is a fairly simple mathematical equation.

(1 / Federer odds) * 100 + (1 / Nadal odds) * 100 = bookmaker’s margin

In the previous example, it was relatively easy to calculate that the margin is zero, but in reality it is not. Even the best bookmakers with the lowest margins usually have lower odds.

For example, if we randomly select a tennis match between two players (A and B) that is currently scheduled, we see that two reputable bookies have quite different margins.

Bookmaker 1 offers odds of 1.80 for player A to win, and odds of 1.90 for player B to win. If we use the formula for calculating the margins, we will see that the margin is quite large, namely 8.19%. On the same match, bookmaker 2 offers odds of 1.87 (player A) and 1.98 (player B). Bookmaker 2’s margin is 4.00%.

So in the long run it is much more cost effective to bet on tennis at bookmaker 2 because they have more than half the margin compared to bookmaker 1.

Therefore, it is necessary to constantly calculate the margins and to play in bookmakers that offer the lowest margins on the market. This will increase your chances of long-term profit from sports betting.

Margin rate and quota

Margin rate and quota

A logical question arises as to what margin is acceptable and what is actually the spread in online sportsbooks.

The most prestigious and largest bookmakers logically have lower margins, which in some sports go down to 2%, which is really great. On the other hand, there are bookmakers on the market with high margins, reaching up to 8%. However, this is still much better than the local bookmakers, where the margins are more than 10%, and on e-bets, for example, even more than the astronomical 20% (taking into account the tax on the payment). Therefore, it is much better to play sports bets in online bookmakers than in local ones.

As mentioned earlier, the type of sport also determines the margin rate, and thus you will find the lowest margins in American sports, while the highest margins are in football.


What is really important is that before you even start playing sports betting, you learn and find out where the bookmakers make a profit in relation to you. Margins and odds are one of the ways bookmakers ensure their profits in the long run.

When you learn how to calculate odds that are more valuable than the odds offered by the bookmaker, you will have an advantage over a large number of players. Knowledge is power, use it to win this complex game called sports betting.

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