Fractional Odds

Also known as British odds, fractional odds can be seen in sportsbooks and racetracks across the globe. Fractional odds are often used for NFL wagering in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and can also be seen in other markets, particularly when it comes to futures and prop bets.

The term is a bit of a misnomer, as the “fraction” in fractional odds doesn’t represent the odds of winning. Fractional odds aren’t even always written as “fractions”, with some bookmakers opting to separate the numbers with a colon or the word ‘on’ or ‘to’ but typically the numbers will be separated with a slash.

WHAT ARE FRACTIONAL ODDS?

One of the oldest forms of odds in usage today, fractional odds are listed as a fraction, with the first number representing the return and the second representing the bet.

For example, let’s take a matchup between the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons, played in Atlanta.

Carolina 39/20
Atlanta 5/12

In this situation, a $20 bet on the Panthers wins $39, while a $12 bet on the Falcons profits $5.

HOW TO CALCULATE PAYOUTS WITH FRACTIONAL ODDS

Of course, most bets are not going to be for the exact number represented in the fraction, which can sometimes make it difficult to calculate winnings.
When your stake and the fraction odds don’t fit, the easiest way to calculate fractional odds is to convert them to decimal odds. To get the decimal odds, simply convert the fraction to decimal form and add one.

Here’s the formula for the Panthers:

39/20 = 1.95 + 1 = 2.95

The stake x 2.95 = the payout

In this case, a $100 bet on the Panthers would win $295 ($195 profit).

When dealing with a heavy favorite, the decimal will be below 1. For example, let’s look at the Falcons:

The Falcons (5/12 = .42 +1 = 1.42)

A $100 bet on Atlanta nets only $42 in profit.

FRACTIONAL ODDS AND THE POINT SPREAD

NFL bookmakers typically want action on both sides of the game. As with other types of NFL betting odds, fractional odds are usually attached to a point spread.

In the Carolina – Atlanta game mentioned above, Atlanta needs to give some points to accomplish this. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has a long history of performing well on his home turf, but the Panthers are not pushovers, so let’s set the spread at 5.

Our new line will look something like this:

Carolina +5 10/11
Atlanta -5 10/11

Now, a bet on either side will cost $110 to win $100, with the remaining money going to the sportsbook.

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FAVORITES, UNDERDOGS & EVEN MONEY

As shown above, when the larger number is to the left (Carolina 39/20), this always signifies that the team is an underdog and the payout will be high. When the number is to the right, this either signifies that the team is favored (Atlanta 5/12) or that both sides are relatively equal (Carolina +5, 10/11).

In fractional odds, even money is written as 1/1, and means that the bettor doubles his stake. 1/1 is commonly seen in horse racing, but it can also be seen in NFL wagering. Let’s say that Atlanta gives up one more point, making the spread 6:

Carolina +6 5/6
Atlanta -6 1/1

In this situation, a $100 bet on Atlanta profits $100, while a $100 bet on Carolina profits only $83.

FRACTIONAL ODDS & FUTURES

Outside of the United Kingdom and Ireland, one of the more common usages of NFL fractional odds is with futures bets, particularly as related to the Superbowl.

In many ways, NFL futures are set up like a horse race, with all 32 teams fighting for the same elusive prize. The NFL has (relative) parity, but there is still a huge gap between the top teams and the cellar dwellers. Fractional odds fit well with this type of wager.

Looking at 2018, top teams, like the Patriots, Eagles and Vikings, slot in around 10/1, while outside contenders, like the Jaguars and Falcons, are closer to 20/1. Competent teams like Seattle, Oakland and Denver, are around 40/1, while the Dolphins and Bills, who have virtually no shot, are 150/1.

Because of the difficulty of winning the Lombardi trophy, fractional odds work great here, as every team can be listed with a x/1 fraction.

WHY LEARN FRACTIONAL ODDS?

Fractional odds are a big help at the race track or in the UK, but most of the time the difference between American odds, fractional odds and decimal odds are a matter of familiarity. Though some may see the relative similarity as reason not to stray from one’s comfort zone, the more NFL wagering concepts understood, the better your chances are when placing bets.

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