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Odds Shortening Guide | Shortening Odds vs Odds Drifting Explained

If you have played at an online sportsbook before, you will have heard of odds shortening. For those that have not, what is the odds shortening meaning, though? Are shortening odds a benefit of a hindrance to the average bettor, and what are the differences between odds shortening vs. odds drifting?

In this betting guide on odds, we will walk you through shortening odds and look at why these fan favourites may be ideal for you. We will also introduce you to some of the best bookmakers in the world. Make sure you also check out our “betting odds explained” guide to harness the power of sports betting odds

If you are ready to find out more, read our guide to discover the meaning of shortening odds. 

What does odds shortening mean ?

An adequate odds shortening definition would be to say that there has been a reduction in the odds available.

 ➤ To shorten the odds means that they become less profitable to players, as the chance of something happening has increased.
 ➤ By contrast, if a bookie lengthens the odds from their starting price (we explain more on how the starting price works in our SP in betting article), they believe there is now less chance of an event occurring.
 ➤ In the battle of low odds vs. high odds, it is high odds that turn the biggest profit. Low odds are more likely to see you win, albeit with smaller prizes.
 ➤ Horse racing odds shortening is the most likely occurrence. It is rare to see other sports shorten their odds as frequently as horse racing.

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How does odds shortening work?

Now that you have had odds shortening explained, it is worth looking at why shortening the odds happens in the first place. There are several reasons why bookmakers may choose to shorten the odds on something.

  1. A reduction of odds could occur because the bookie has come across some new information that changes the probability of something happening, making an outcome more likely.
  2. This can also happen when a lot of players stake money on the same bet. The bookmaker may feel as though the players know or have seen something that they have not.

Both are valid reasons to see odds suddenly shorten.

Of course, there are other betting terms alongside odds shortening that you will want to get to grips with if you want to become a seasoned sports bettor. We have got guides that discuss the concepts behind “accept all odds movement” and the best staking plan for low odds, as well as strategies for closing odds and more. However, as long as you know the basics behind odds shortening, you’ll be off to a great start.

Odds drifting vs shortening: what is the difference?

Odds drifting vs. shortening are two sides of the same coin:

  • When the odds are shortening, you are dealing with dropping odds
  • However, on occasion, the odds could drift. Odds drifting is another way of saying lengthening.

For instance:

  • If a horse is a favourite to win, he will naturally have low odds, also called short odds.
  • However, if the jockey develops a cold on the day of the race, bettors might start to fancy other horses.
  • To compensate for that, the odds on the original favourite will drift (get longer).
  • It is important that you keep up with current events to see these enhanced odds as they happen, so let us look at that next.

Spotting horses with shortening odds

How do you spot odds shortening or drifting? Learning how to spot horses with shortening odds is essential. Some players spend hours watching the markets in the run-up to an event. Any horse with tumbling odds is known as a steamer, but this could mean one of two things:

  1. On the one hand, it could be a horse that the bookie has new information about, hence the change in odds.
  2. It could also be a horse that the public fancies, and the surplus of bets has had to force the bookie to slash the odds to avoid having to pay out sizable sums.
  3. It could also be that the true probability of the horse winning has not changed at all. Instead, groups of people (usually on social media) release blogs and gossip to attract attention to the horse, usually to deviate the public away from their own bet. In these cases consider betting against the public opinion.

Your best way to find steamers and identify which horses with shortening odds are worth having a bet on is to study the markets, read what is being said, and check out the advice of tipsters. However, we have a few more tips you might like, and we will look at those next.

Top tips for shortening odds that you should know about

As promised, here are our top gambling tips for shortening odds betting. They include:


👉 Visit a tipster. They will usually have a good idea of where things stand, such as the best odds margins. They will also provide their best bet, referred to as a NAP. This would be the short answer to what does NAP mean in betting.

👉 Watch out for non-runners. These can play havoc. A horse might appear to have shortened odds, but that may be because it is about to be withdrawn.

👉 Always check out the bookmakers with the best odds guaranteed.

👉 While it helps to know how to read soccer odds, learn about horse racing odds in particular, as this will help you identify top horses to back.

👉 Make full use of guaranteed offers and look for betting sites with cash out options to boost your returns.

The pros and cons of odds shortening

There are pros and cons to every aspect of gambling, and odds shortening is no exception. Our list includes:


  • You may be more likely to win with shortened odds
  • Most bookmakers keep you informed of odds shortening
  • It also applies to live sports betting


  • Your returns will be lower with shortened odds
  • Shortened odds may just be bluster

FAQs: Your questions on odds shortening answered

If you still have questions about odds shortening, let us see if we can help you with this brief FAQ guide.

If the likelihood of an event occurring increased, the odds available on that bet will shorten. This is known as odds shortening, and it means that while you may be more likely to win, your return will not be worth as much as it was initially.

Not normally. Fixed odds are usually secure from future fluctuations. There are exceptions, but these are few.

There are plenty of tools out there on the internet that consider odds shortening, and these can be used to find the best deals.

No. Before you do that, you need to know the reason why a horse has become a steamer. If it is because it is more likely to win a race, you may wish to have a crack at it. If it is bluster, hearsay, or pure unfounded gossip, you should avoid this.

Place bets with renowned bookies online today

Now that we have covered odds shortening, perhaps you want to check out some of our other top guides? If you have got a question on “how do bookies set odds?” or fancy reading a low odds betting strategy guide, we can help. Moreover, we can also recommend dozens of licensed, secure, and renowned sites, the best odds bookmakers in the business for you to join. Do not hesitate to check out what else we have to offer at our site.