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Betting Odds Explained

Betting Odds Explained

There are three types of odds formats used throughout the world, and it really just comes down to three separate ways of displaying the same information.

Fractional odds

Fractional odds are considered the benchmark for UK-based bookmakers and the horse racing industry worldwide.

Represented as a fraction such as 5/1, the left side of the fraction represents the number of bets you will receive (for a win), while the right side of the fraction represents the number of bets you need to make.

For example, an even-money bet (bet £1 to win £2, a £1 profit) is reflected as 1/1 in fractional odds.

A bet where you would receive ten times your original stake is referred to as 10/1 odds. It’s important to be able to tell the differences between fractions as a 13/5 bet pays out less than 11/4, despite 11/4 “looking” like a worse bet thanks to the smaller numbers. Fractional odds are the preference for straightforward bets on straightforward betting sports.

Example: When fractional odds include a number larger than one on the right side, many betters have difficulty understanding the exact bottom-line payout on their bet. For example, how much would you make on a £1 bet at 13/5?

You can figure this out in two ways. While each way is essentially the same thing, some people will find one way easier than the other.

The first way has you dividing the left number by the right number (13/5=2.6). If you remember your 6th year math lessons you’ll know that anything you do to one half a fraction, you must do to the other, this gives you a new fraction of 2.6/1. Now it’s obvious, that on your bet of £1 you’ll make a profit of £2.60.

The second way is to divide your actual bet amount £1 by the right side of the fraction. As mentioned earlier the right side represents the number of bets you need to make to win the amount on the left side. If your total wager is £1, and that is made up of 5 parts then each part is worth £0.20. Simply multiply that amount by the left side of the fraction and you have your result: 13*£0.20 = £2.60.

Decimal Odds

The majority of people dislike calculating with fractions in their head, or at all. This common dislike for fractions has seen decimal odds become the preferred betting metric for many of the world’s largest markets, especially the betting exchanges.

Decimal odds are arguably the easiest way to express wagers. An even-money bet in decimals is reflected as odds of 2.0.

It can be a little confusing if you’re used to fractional odds as 2/1 isn’t the same as 2.0- it’s actually 3.0. In decimals odds you include the stake in the total. A 10/1 wager is reflected in decimals as odds of 11.0.

Example: If you’re looking at placing a £1 bet at 6.0 odds, you stand to make a £5 return on your bet. The odds are simple, just multiply your bet by the odds provided, and that’s the total amount you’ll get back from the bookmaker. Subtract your original bet from the total to discern your total profit from the bet.

American Odds

While they may be a little unconventional-looking if you aren’t used to them, you can rest assured that most Americans feels the same way about fractions and (especially) decimals.

American wagering is based around money-lines and point spreads and they tend to use a +/- system. In American odds, an even-money bet is expressed as +100. If you are taking odds of 10/1 or 11.0, they are reflected in American odds as +1000.

The first thing to understand is that the + or – is not a mathematical symbol. This number simply represents whether you will earn more or less than the total amount of your bet. The numbers themselves are all based on £100.

Example: At odds of +150, you win £150 for betting £100, a £50 profit. This means if you bet just £1 you’ll get back £1.5.

Since it’s based on £100 the best way to calculate positive odds are to think of the odds as percentages. If the odds are +140, that’s 140% of your bet. £1 * 140% = £1.40. Subtract your original stake of £1 and you’re left with £0.40 profit.

If the odds are negative you’re seeing how much you would need to bet to make £100. So at odds of -250 you would need to bet £250 to make £100.

You can use a similar formula for negative odds as you did for positive odds, only instead of multiplying your bet by the odds percentage, you need to divide it. Also, this calculation only gives us the profit, meaning you no longer need to subtract your original stake.

At the odds of -250 (the American representation of 2/5) you would find your profit with the calculation £1/250%=£0.40.

There you have all of the commonly used methods of displaying betting odds. Without understanding what the odds actually mean, it’s impossible to understand if you’re getting good value on your wager or not.

Now that you understand the types of odds used across the various betting markets, you can explore the types of betting markets available. For the beginner punter, we recommend you start by reading about how spread betting works.

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