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A favourite refers to the outcome that a bookmaker expects to win. The outcome's status as a favourite is reflected in the odds that they are assigned.

A favourite is the opposite to an underdog - an outsider who the bookmaker does not expect to win.

How favourites are displayed with odds

It is easy to spot a favourite when surveying the odds of a competition. A favourite is always the outcome with the shortest odds, and consequently the odds that will see the smallest returns - which would be expected, given that the outcome is considered likely to happen.

Favourites are displayed differently depending on your odds format preference.

Favourites with decimal odds

When using decimal odds, the favourite is the outcome with odds closest to 1.00. The closer to 1.00 the outcome, the heavier the favourite the outcome is.

For example, an outcome with odds of 1.25 would be considered a heavier favourite than an outcome with odds of 1.75.

Outcomes with odds higher than 2.00 (evens) are considered more likely to not happen than happen. However, an outcome with odds higher than 2.00 can still be considered a favourite if the other outcomes in the same competition have even higher odds.

Favourites with fractional odds

When using fractional odds, the favourite is the outcome with the smallest fraction. If the denominator (the second number) is bigger than the numerator (the first number), then this outcome would be considered the favourite.

For example, an outcome with odds of 1/3 would be considered the favourite, while an outcome with odds of 3/1 would be considered the underdog.

Outcomes with odds higher than 1/1 (evens) are considered more likely to not happen than happen. However, an outcome with odds higher than 1/1 can still be considered a favourite if other outcomes in the same competition have even higher odds.

Favourites with American odds

When using American odds, the favourite is displayed using negative odds, while the underdog would be displayed using positive odds.

The lower the number, the heavier the favourite an outcome is. The closer an outcome's odds is to -1000, the heavier a favourite that outcome is.

For example, an outcome with odds of -500 would be considered a heavier favourite than an outcome with odds of -300.

Outcomes with odds higher than +100 (evens) are considered more likely to not happen than happen. However, an outcome with odds higher than +100 can still be considered a favourite if other outcomes in the same competition have even higher odds.

How to use favourites in sports betting

On the surface, betting on a favourite is a sensible betting strategy, as this outcome is expected to occur. However, there are no certainties in sport, and therefore backing a favourite does not guarantee success.

Additionally, as favourites are expected to win, their odds are shorter and therefore the returns will be smaller. It is a minimum risk, minimum reward strategy.

A big stake is required to see big returns from a favourite - which again is a risky strategy as, like we said, there are no certainties in sport, and this can result in big losses if the favourite is not successful.

The best way to back a favourite is to look for value in a bet by using implied probability.

For example, if Manchester United are priced at odds of 1.80 to beat Southampton at Old Trafford, this gives them an implied probability of 55.6%. However, if you consider a Manchester United win to be more like 70% likely - perhaps due to factors such as United's recent form, their home record or injuries to key Southampton players - then this would be a value bet and a favourite worth backing.

Alternatively, a selection of favourites could be selected to make an accumulator, increasing risk but also increasing reward if successful, without the need for a high stake.

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