Sports betting is simple, decide who you think will win and back them at odds given to you by a bookmaker. In 2018 this is still the mot popular way to bet but with advances in technology and huge growth within the industry we can now bet on almost anything and to a newcomer sports betting can begin to look incredibly complicated. Do you bet against fixed odds or on a spread? is it better to bet on the moneyline or do you look for a handicap and what on earth is a trixie? It can all seem incredibly confusing and I can only imagine what a beginner must think when they first log on to their bookmaker of choice and see thousands of markets presented to them, each with their own rules and terminology. This page is therefore here to help you get around any initial confusion and get you on your way to placing your first bet.

**Fixed odds**

Betting on cycling is almost always going to be against fixed odds. This means that a bookmaker decides the probability each rider within a race has of winning and then assigns this probability to a set of odds. Traditionally these odds are displayed fractionally. So for example if we look at a sprint stage in the Tour de France, the bookmaker might calculate a 25% chance that Mark Cavendish will be the victor. This would result in odds of 3/1 (excluding the overround) meaning that for a £1 bet you would receive £3 in return plus your original stake. Now this is great when we have nice round numbers but say the the stage has a very technical finish and is therefore much more open, the bookmaker may only calculate Cavendish’s chance of winning to be 22% which would give him fractional odds of 7/2. While is is still relatively simple to work out what your returns would be I prefer to use odds displayed as decimals. This simply means that your winnings (inc stake) will be ‘stake *x*odds’ which is a much easier sum to calculate than if you were using fractions. Therefore for the fractional odds 3/1 we would have decimal odds of 4.0 and for the fractional odds of 7/2 we would have decimal odds of 4.5.

Below are the prices available on bet365 for this years Paris Roubaix. As you can see the trader at bet365 thinks Peter Sagan is the clear favourite with GvA, Terpstra, Vanmarckea and Gilbert making up second group of closely priced runners. While not shown in the image there are riders for which odds have been assigned at greater than 1000s, essentially meaning the bookie rates there chances of success at 0. Think big, bulky Marcel Kittel and the GC at the Tour de France.

I often use bet365 as a starting point (mainly because they normally have there book up first) however it is important to note that not every bookmaker will see a race the same way and you can therefore find wildly varying odds depending on which bookie you place your bet with. We can therefore find great value in cycling betting markets where we believe the probability of a rider winning is greater than the probability that has been calculated by the bookmaker. For example take a look at Vanmarcke’s odds for this coming Paris Roubaix. Paddypower have him as short as 8.5 meaning a return of £85 from a £10 stake while Coral and Betfair have him at odds of 21 meaning a return of £210 from a £10 stake. That is a difference in profit of £125, nearly 170% more!

In these cases it often pays to be quick as bookmakers will shorten odds in reaction to the growing weight of money behind a selection. In other words the more people that back a certain rider the shorter the odds will get as the the bookmaker attempts to reduce their liabilities.

**Each Way**

An Each Way bet is again a form of fixed odds betting but it differs slightly in that you are betting on the rider to either ‘win’ or ‘place’. This means that there are two parts to your stake. For example for a £10 stake £5 will be placed on the rider to win and the other £5 on the rider to place (meaning top 3 or in some cases top 4 or 5). Using the example above, if Vanmarcke goes on to come second in Roubaix at odds of 21.0 (with Each Way prices being 1/4) and we had a £10 stake Each Way, we would return £30. This is because the £5 win part of our bet is lost, but the £5 place part of our bet has won. Therefore £5 at 1/4 the odds (20/1 x 1/4 = 5/1) would return £25 plus your original stake giving a total of £30.

In cycling it can be very difficult to pick an outright winner because so much can happen over the 3 weeks of a grand tour or the 6 hours of rain-soaked Milan Sanremo. Each Way betting is therefore a great way to minimise risk while still giving us the best chance at making a profit. Keep in mind however that you will still lose money on an Each Way bet if rider only places with odds less than 4/1. It will mean we lose less money than otherwise would have done and so can be good to reduce our risk but still, we would be losing money nevertheless.

**Match Ups**

Many bookmakers now offer ‘match ups’, often called matchbets. These are pairs of riders selected by the bookmaker from which you can then select who you think is going to place higher. Match Ups are great as a single bet, especially where you find value in the odds offered on a pairing, but they can be of superb value when you combine few of them into an accumulator style bet. Perhaps you see value in 3 of the 10 match ups on offer and rather than place three bets, you place one bet backing all three to occur. The odds for this accumulator will be the product of the odds of each of the 3 match ups. As a result of this we can build a betslip of good value quite quickly. Be careful not to get carried away with these. Much like an accumulator on the weekend’s Premier League football fixtures it is much more common than many people perceive for one of the selections to slip up. I normally keep selections on an an accumulator down to less than 5.

‘Oh, it’s not really gambling when you never lose’ Jennifer Aniston