Betting Odds Explained

Odds on betting – Explained

Learning how to understand betting odds and read them correctly is the first thing you must do if you wish to bet online or offline.

The principle of betting odds is to tell you, the ‘punter’, how likely it is that an event or outcome will happen. This includes telling you how much you can win for a desired stake amount.

No bookmaker can predict the future, that is why all events’ odds are based on probability. Odds are important because you can’t bet without them.

The Basics

Placing a bet is the method of predicting what the outcome of a sporting event will be.
Bookmakers display odds on what the probability is of the event outcome, e.g. win, lose, draw.
2 simple forms of understanding probability are the roll of a dice and a coin toss. Choosing a number on a dice is a one in six chance that it will happen and choosing the side of a coin is a one in two chance.
In betting, this outcome ‘chance’ is displayed as odds.
Odds are most commonly displayed in one of two ways; fractional or decimal.

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Fractional Odds

Fractional odds are displayed as numbers separated by a forward slash, e.g. 5/1.
When a bookmaker tells you the odds based on the above they will say ‘five to one’.
These odds are just mathematics showing the probability of the event outcome and how much you will get back if you predict the outcome correctly.

The number on the left of the forward slash is the amount you receive if your bet wins.
The number on the right is the amount you bet to receive the amount on the left.
For example; 5/1 will give you 5 units back for every 1 unit you bet, in addition to getting your stake back.
So if you bet £1 at 5/1, you will receive £5 + £1 stake back if successful, giving a total of £6.

Other examples are:
8/1 – You will receive 8 units back for every 1 unit you bet + your stake.
7/2 – You will receive 7 units back for every 2 units you bet + your stake.
6/4 – You will receive 6 units back for every 4 units you bet + your stake.
If the number on the left is higher than the number on the right, it means that it is less likely to occur.
However, in fractional odds, the number on the left is not always greater than the number on the right.
If the left number is less than the right, it is known as ‘odds on’, meaning the event prediction has a good chance to happen.
For example; 1/2 means that for every 2 units you bet, you will get 1 unit back.
In addition, often bookmakers display odds as ‘Evens’, which is the same as 1/1 and will give you one unit back for one unit you bet.
Shorter odds (e.g. 1/2) mean less return than 2/1, but also mean that the event outcome is more likely to happen.

Decimal Odds

Decimal odds are exactly what it sounds like – odds of the event, displayed as a decimal number, e.g. 4.00.
To calculate how much you can win using decimal odds, multiply the odds by your bet amount.
For example; odds of 4.00 x £1 (or currency equivalent) equals £4 return. £3 win plus £1 stake.
Decimal odds automatically factor in your stake amount to the price, which is the main difference from fractional odds.
Decimal odds of 4.00 is the same as 3/1.

Examples of decimal odds:
5.50 – You will receive 5.50 multiplied by your stake, e.g. 5.50 x £1 = £5.50 return.
1.70 – You will receive 1.70 multiplied by your stake, e.g. 1.70 x £1 = £1.70 return.
All examples are done in the simplest of forms using 1 currency unit stake. However, you can easily use the same calculation for any stake amount, such as:
If your stake is £5.50, and you multiply this by odds of 4.70, your return will be £25.85.

Betting Favourites

Almost every betting market has a favourite when it comes to outcome.
This means that it is most likely to win over the other participants, be it horse racing, greyhounds or tennis etc.
Favourites are usually the shortest odds out of all potential winners. In horse racing, the favourite is represented by F. Sometimes the 2nd favourite or even joint favourite is also displayed, which are represented by 2F and JF.

Fractional Vs Decimal

When it comes to choosing how you want to display odds, there is no right or wrong answer.
It is purely down to the preference of the person placing the bet.
Many online bookmakers provide automatic odds selection so that you can select how you want the odds displayed.
Fractional odds are more old-school and used to dominate every type of betting market. However, in 2018 we are seeing the continuous rise of decimal odds for sports betting as they are generally easier to work out and calculate. In addition, people prefer decimals on sports betting exchanges as they can clearly see when odds change by only a slight margin.

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