Explaining Betting Odds

Essentially, the concept of betting odds is very simple: taking football as an example, if one team is stronger then they will attract a short price and your profit will be smaller but if the weaker side causes an upset and wins the match, your return, based on longer odds, will be considerably greater.

That’s a very simple principle but when bookmakers across the world publish those odds in different formats, it can be confusing for some punters. So, if you’re unsure whether a price of 7/2 gives more value than one at 4.50, read on.

Traditional Fractional

For UK players, fractional odds are the most familiar and for many years, this was the only system we saw in all the physical betting shops. Because it’s so familiar, it’s easy for us to understand it even though, it may not be the most logical way of calculating your returns.

Let’s go to horse racing as an example: You study the form and pick a horse at a listed figure of 5/1 and stake £10.00 on a straight win. If that horse comes home in first place then your return is calculated as follows:

£10.00 at 5/1 >> 5 x £10 = £50.00
Plus stake returned – £10.00
Total returns = £60.00

Obviously, other fractions such as 7/4, 11/10 and others will produce more complicated calculations but they work on the same principle. Work out your profit based on those odds and then add on your stake which will be refunded.

Modern Decimal

The practise of using decimal odds to calculate returns is widespread in mainland Europe but many UK bookmakers are using this as their preferred format. A good example is Unibet who have a strong presence in the UK but originate from Scandinavia and have adopted this method as standard practise.

Let’s look at that horse race again and apply decimal odds to work things out. Instead of being listed at 5/1, the runner will be quoted at a decimal equivalent of 6.00 and the calculations work like this.

£10.00 at 6.00 – 6 x £10.00 = £60.00

And that is it! There is no stake to return with a decimal price so the working out is far easier. You still get the same value and the same overall profit but the simple way in which this works means that many UK punters are starting to look at this format in preference to fractional.

If you’re not a mathematician, decimal is a great format for spotting value. We know straight way that 4.33 is a better price than 4.00 but how does 17/4 compare with 7/2? It’s not for everyone, but decimal does have some advantages.

American Odds

Although this system is rarer, it is favoured by many bookies based in North America so for UK customers with a wide portfolio of sites, it’s worth taking time to understand it. The first thing to bear in mind with American Odds is that the price can either be positive or negative, depending on whether your selection is odds against or odds on.

As an example, if you see a price of +200 then its fractional equivalent is 2/1 or for decimal, it would be 3.00. So, if you back an outcome at that price with a £10.00 stake then you win £20.00 and with American Odds, you get your stake back so you can add on £10.00 bringing that return up to £30.00.

If you are familiar with a certain format and you see an alternative figure, it’s very easy to convert as there are a number of options across the net. Just type in something like Decimal to Fractional Odds in a search engine and you will see a number of options returned.

With so many bookmakers around, you should still be able to stick with your preference, but the varying odds systems are really very easy to understand.