In this article we explain all you need to know about betting odds. This includes a definition of what they are and what they represent and the various formats they can be displayed. We'll also provide an odds conversion calculator and table and more.
Betting Odds Explained
Understanding betting odds is extremely important and is one of the first things you should master when entering the gambling world, even before you learn how to place a bet online.
By doing so, not only will you be able to identify how likely an outcome is to happen, but also how to calculate the return value for a given stake.
So, how do betting odds work?
What Are Betting Odds?
Betting odds are used to express the likelihood of a given outcome occurring and allow you to determine the expected return from your stake should the predicted outcome become a reality.
It is important to know however, that in almost all cases, the odds provided by bookmakers do not reflect the true probabilities, but rather what they are prepared to pay out on the event happening – or not.
This is because when constructing odds, bookmakers include a profit margin (referred to as their ‘edge' or ‘overround' – read more about that here), which in its simplest terms, means that the potential payout to a successful bettor is less than that represented by the true odds of the event happening.
There are three different ways that betting odds can be displayed.
Fractional Odds Explained
Fractional odds quote the amount that will be paid out (the numerator), should the bet win, relative to the stake (the denominator). For example, with odds of 2/1, for every £1 you place, you will make a profit of £2 (should the bet win) meaning the total return would be £3.
They are expressed in the form of ‘X' to ‘Y' where X and Y are numbers. The word ‘to' is most commonly replaced by either a slash (/) or hyphen (-). You may also occasionally see a colon (:). For example, 2/1, 2-1 and 2:1 are all interchangeable.
Also referred to as British Odds, UK Odds and Traditional Odds, fractional odds are favoured by bookmakers in the UK and Ireland and most commonly used within horse racing.
Decimal Odds Explained
Decimal odds represent the ratio of the potential returns, including the original stake, relative to the stake itself. This is done by multiplying the stake by the decimal shown. For example, with odds of 5.0, for every £1 you place, you will receive a total return of £5 (5.0 x £1).
Decimal odds are favoured by bookmakers in continental Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. They are most common on betting exchanges and popular with many punters because they are easier to work out manually.
American Odds Explained
A negative number shows how much you have to stake in order to achieve a profit of $100 while. A positive number shows how much profit you will make if you stake $100. For example, for odds of -150, you would have to stake $150 to get a $100 profit. For odds of +150, if you staked $100 then you make $150 profit.
American odds are also referred to as ‘money lines' and are favoured by American bookmakers.
Fractional Odds v Decimal Odds
The key difference between fractional odds and decimal odds is that the latter account for your returned stake to give you your ‘total winnings'. The former do not and only give you your potential profit.
There is no ‘right' format to use. However, there has been a clear upward trend towards the use of decimal odds, for both bookmakers and punters, because they are easier to understand. Ultimately however, it comes down to individual preference and what you are more comfortable with.
You Get To Chose
It is imperative that you understand the odds you are looking at. Not only can it be the difference between a winning and losing bet, but it can also help you recognise value.
The good news is that most, if not, all betting sites nowadays allow you to select which format you'd like the odds to be displayed in. This option is usually found via settings. Some bookmakers may also show a toggle button on every page for quick and easy access.
Odds Conversion Calculator
Want to convert fractional odds into decimal odds or vice versa? You can do so using our handy odds conversion calculator below. Simply enter the odds and our savvy tool will automatically do the work for you.
At A Glance Betting Odds Conversion Table
Below is an ‘at a glance' odds conversion table. Use this table to convert some of the most common fractional odds, decimal odds and american odds.
- Even Money (also referred to as ‘EVENS' or ‘EVS') is a term used when the odds provided for a given outcome occurring are exactly 1/1. In other words, when the potential profit from a bet is the same as that of the amount staked.
- Odds Against is a term used when the odds provided for a given outcome occurring are greater than 1/1. In other words, when the potential profit from a bet is greater than that of the amount staked.
- Odds On is a term used when the odds provided for a given outcome are less than 1/1. In other words, when the potential profit from a bet is less than that of the amount staked.
ThePuntersPage Final Say
Bookmakers use betting odds to translate the probability of a given outcome occurring into a more usable form in order to offer betting. The odds can be displayed in either fractional, decimal or american formats.
Grasping this concept and fully understanding how betting odds work should not only lay the foundation for your betting knowledge, but should also help you be a more successful bettor.