Betting Odds Explained – The Ultimate Guide To Betting Odds

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Last Updated on: 22.02.2023

In this article, we’ll 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.

Want to convert fractional odds into decimal odds or vice versa? You can do so using our handy odds conversion calculator. Simply enter the odds and our savvy tool will automatically do the work for you.

What are Betting Odds?

Most of you reading this will roughly understand what sports betting promotions odds are and have basic answers to question like how do odds work. In this part of our betting odds explained guide, we will break that understanding down to two key points:

On one hand, they are a reflection of probability according to the bookmaker. In other words, how likely they think an outcome is to happen – at least in theory. Other factors can also play a part in this, such as promotions, market fluctuations, the overround, all of which we will cover later in this article. Perhaps more accurate is that betting odds are a rough approximation of how likely they think an outcome is to happen.

Ultimately though, the end result is what matters. So perhaps we should look at it from a more bottom-line perspective. The second way of thinking about how betting odds work is that odds are a way of understanding how much you get if you win in relation to your stake.

Betting odds are both a reflection of implied probability and a way of understanding potential returns.

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We’ll be explaining why they betting odds so important to online bookmakers, how they are set and how other things like promotions can affect them. Ultimately, how betting odds work. Vitally, we'll also provide an odds conversion calculator and table and more, including our picks for the best bookmakers out there for odds, so you can have all the tools you need to make the most out of betting odds in our exclusive betting odds explained guide.

The Importance of Having Betting Odds Explained When Choosing a Bookmaker

Here at The Punters Page, we’re all about helping you get the best betting experience possible. There’s a lot of different facets to this, from tactical advice to a look at the best promotions, That said, there is nothing we provide which is more important than our guidance on which betting sites are right for you.

Getting the right operator is like ensuring you are standing on a solid foundation upon which everything else can be built. And if the betting site is the foundation, then quality odds may very well be the concrete, as there is nothing – perhaps beyond security – more important to their quality as offering decent odds.

How This Odds Understanding Relates to Strategy

Following on from our previous point on betting odds explained, always remember that how much money you can potentially win only matters in relation to the stake. For instance, two sets of odds could both at a certain point win £1000, but one may see you need to bet £5 for that potential return, another £500. This is an extreme example, of course, but the important point is that the quality of the end result is all relative to how much you need to put down to see that return.

This is where our two basic betting odds explained points about what betting odds are and how betting odds work converge, so let’s return to them for a moment for some strategic advice. The odds are a reflection of how likely an event is to happen. They are also a way of understanding your potential return. Finding a good market, a smart market to bet on, is about finding one where you think the operator is wrong on both accounts.

For instance, let’s say a bookmaker thinks a team has roughly a 20% chance of winning, but you think they have a much better chance of winning. Say you think that the odds are actually closer to evens. This would be a good market to bet on, because this difference of opinion means that the potential return, which these odds also represent, is very generous should your opinion be proven correct.

That’s why being able to understand how do odds work and how odds translate is vital from a strategic betting odds explained perspective, because recognising where you think the bookmakers have made a mistake in their predictions is so important to smart betting. Without those fundamentals, you’re essentially left guessing what the quality markets are because you don’t accurately know what likelihood the odds represent.

In order to help you with understanding betting points, we have broken down the three common types of odds format, with examples and explanations of how each of translates to both an implied probability, and cash return. This is the crux of explaining betting odds.

Fractional Odds into Implied Probability: Betting Odds Explained

Do note that for fractional odds into implied probability, as well as into cash and into decimal and American odds, we will be using the same example for the sake of simplicity in helping you understand the core concepts like how do odds work together. Rest assured these formulas are just as useful with any other example.

Here are three really simple examples of how fractional odds can be converted into implied probability:

  • 1/1 odds represent a 50% implied probability.
  • 3/1 odds represent a 25% implied probability.
  • 9/1 odds represent a 10% implied probability.

In order to calculate fractional odds, we will utilise the last example. Let’s say the first half – 9, in this instance – is represented by X. The second half – 1 in this instance – is represented by Y. The formula for implied probability is Y/(X+Y), or 1/(9+1). Or 1 divided by 10. This comes out as 10. Or, 10% implied probability.

Fractional Odds into Cash Betting Odds Explained

Now we know how fractional odds converts into implied probability, let’s see how it turns into cash. We’ll use the same examples for the sake of simplicity.

  • 1/1 odds would mean that for every £10 you bet, you would win £10.
  • 3/1 odds would mean that for every £10 you bet, you would win £30.
  • 9/1 odds would mean that for every £10 you bet, you would win £90.

This is an even simpler formula. Let’s once again use 9/1, and say that 9 is represented by X, and that 1 is represented by Y. All you do is say you win X for every Y that you bet. In other words, a £10 bet here would get you £90.

It really is as simple as that. This allows you to both understand what the fractional odds represent both in terms of how likely an event is to happen according to the bookmaker, and how much you would win should this wager be successful.

As an example, you could, using this information, see that a horse you are backing is given a 10% chance of winning. If you think they have a much better chance that than that, then that would be a smart market to back because you are looking to get 9x your return. That is one basic calculation for smarter betting.

Decimal Odds into Implied Probability Betting Odds Explained

Here we are going to do the exact same thing but this time with decimal odds, so you are prepared no matter what odds are thrown at you.

  • 2.0 odds represent a 50% probability.
  • 4.0 odds represent a 25% probability.
  • 10.00 odds represent a 10% probability.

The formula for working these out yourself is also very simple. You simple divide 1/decimal odds and then times that by 100. That is your implied probability. Let’s use 10.00 as our example. 1 divided by 10.00 is 0.1. If you multiply that by 100, you get 10%. Other examples can look more complicated than that, but the formulas are always the same.

Decimal Odds into Cash: Betting Odds Explained

Understanding how decimal odds convert into cash is very simple as well.

  • 2.0 odds would mean that for every £10 you bet, you would win £10.
  • 4.0 odds would mean that for every £10 you bet, you would win £30.
  • 10.00 odds would mean that for every £10 you bet, you would win £90.

The way this works is simple. You multiply the decimal amount by your stake, and then take off the original stake amount. In other words, if we once again used the latter example, we would multiply £10 by 10.00, which would be £100, but we then have to take off the stake, which would be £90.

American Odds into Implied Probability: Betting Odds Explained

American odds aren’t as common in European markets but are also vital to getting a full understanding of how do odds work.

  • +100 odds represent a 50% probability.
  • +300 odds represent a 25% probability.
  • +900 odds represent a 10% probability.

The formula for the implied probability is 100 divided by the American odds + 100 x 100. So, once again using the final example listed, we can do 100/900 +100 and then multiply that by 100. That comes out at 10, or 10%. Nice and easy once again.

American Odds into Cash: Betting Odds Explained

This is the last point on our journey into understanding all the different key types of odds and how betting odds work!

  • +100 odds would mean that for every £10 you bet, you would win £10.
  • +300 odds would mean that for every £10 you bet, you would win £30
  • +900 odds would mean that for every £10 you bet, you would win £90.

This is possibly the easiest one to understand of all, because the American odds numbers are simply how much you would get if you bet £100. So, if we say that if you bet £100, you would get £900, using that final example for the last time, then logically, if you bet £10, you would get £90.

Which Odds Option is the Best?

You will have no doubt noticed that in our above examples, we used the same equivalents as much as we possibly could. There are a couple of reasons for this: one of those reasons is to make each of them as easy to understand as possible. You can see easily how do odds work and how these principles can be applied not only to other odds examples of the same type, but into different odds examples as well. We want you to easily see how betting odds fraction to decimal works, for instance.  And if you have any further issues, you will also be able to convert between decimal types and into implied probabilities at a snap using our odds conversion table below.

But there is another point to using equivalent examples and that is to show that no option has a real-world advantage over another. They are simply different ways of relaying the same information. In other words, there is no option that is objectively better than the others.

There can be, however, one which is better for you and this comes down to two key points. One of these is what is available via your preferred bookmakers. Now, often this is something you can choose so it’s not something you need to give too much concern to. However, it is worth pointing out that for UK and European users, American odds – as their name would suggest – are much less common. So, on many bookmakers, you may need to choose between decimal and fractional.

Beyond that, the only thing you really have to consider is which you find easiest to understand. Often, this is just down to which odds type you are more used to using. But really, you don’t need to analyse it. As we said, one is not objectively better than the other, so as long as it is available, it simply comes down to your personal preference. And whatever you choose, with the help of our odds conversion calculator and betting odds table, they will be simple and easy to utilise and understand.

How Promotions Can Affect Odds

888Sport Treble Odds Offer

You may think of odds as a static, solid offer that the bookmaker provides you and you can choose whether to accept. However, they are actually a fair bit more fluid than that. Some of the things that can impact odds will be covered in the “How do bookmakers set their odds?” section of this article, but here, we are going to look at one often overlooked element, and that’s promotions.

An odds promotion could be called something like a Bet Boost, Price Rush, In-Play Goal Boosts, Double/Triple Odds, New Customer Enhanced Odds promotions, Best Odds Guaranteed promotions or Enhanced Placed Terms and enhanced odds accumulators. These are just some examples and there’s plenty more names out there, but all of them must improve the odds in one way or another to be considered this kind of promotion. Beyond that, there’s quite a bit of scope to what they can consist of.

At a basic level, an odds boost simply gives you better odds than you would otherwise receive. These are usually either on selected markets or you can pick a limited amount of markets you would like to boost depending on the promotion. Price Rushes are enhanced odds available in a short time frame. In-Play goal boosts are pop-up promotions where you can get odds on a player to score in a short time period, maybe 30 seconds for instance. Best Odds Guaranteed is where you not only get a boost, but an assurance that you are getting the best odds available.

Enhanced place terms are usually applied on horse racing betting (but can be found on any sport that offers each-way betting) and increases your place terms – say, from 3 to 4 – giving you a better chance of winning. (Do note that there’s some discussion on whether this is a type of odds promotion, but we view it as being close enough to be considered among them). There’s also double/triple odds, which increases odds by twice or three times the value as the initial odds, along with new customer enhanced odds which are only available to those registering a new player account, and enhanced odds accumulators which are, as the name suggests, only available on accumulator bets.

That is right, not only can promotions affect odds, but there is a lot more variety than you might think. They are also much more common than may expect. That’s why we put together our comprehensive guide to what we think are the finest enhanced odds promotion around. This also includes a great deal more information on the different kinds of offers and how to make the most of them. But if you don’t make the pilgrimage to that page – and we highly recommend you do if you are interested in seeing how to get even more out of your odds – then rest assured that these are something you can regularly enjoy and take advantage of to further improve your odds.

Why Are Quality Odds So Important?

The reason we all want better odds is really remarkably simple. If we have better odds, we get more money when we win. And that difference can be significant in many instances.

We have picked a random market from the day of writing to use as a typical example. Coventry has 17/11 odds to beat Queens Park Rangers from SportNation. This translates to 39.3%. They have 6/4 odds from the majority of other bookmakers we have looked at, which is 40%. This is, therefore, an additional winning of 0.7%.

This is a really moderate example. All these are across very high-quality bookmakers on a popular market, meaning the margins are usually kept tight. But even so, if you could manage to make that extra money in every winning, as a baseline example of what is possible, you can be talking about a lot of money over an extended period.

Maybe you think around a percentage isn’t huge for one bet, but when you talk about extra money over longer periods, even this conservative example comes out to quite a lot. In addition, quality odds are the hallmark of a quality bookmaker. There are few better reflections of the likely standards of the site than this, as it is one which directly affects their bottom line, and indeed, yours.

Don't miss our detailed guide on how to calculate your betting odds payout.

How Do Bookmakers Set Their Odds?

After all this talk about how betting odds work, you’re probably wondering how bookmakers actually go about setting their odds. The goal here is not only to satisfy your curiosity, but also to show you that the techniques used by the bookmakers aren’t infallible. Although they are to be respected for their efforts and ingenuity, they are as flawed as any attempt to predict the uncertain is always likely to be.

The first comes from data analysis. When we advise you to do your research, that is what this is all about, because that is exactly what the bookmakers are doing. They use both expertise and complicated algorithms in order to try and give an accurate probability to possible outcomes. We talked before regarding how do odds work and how they are a way to understand implied probability, and this is a big part of where that comes from. However, there are other things to take into account.

Unlike you, the bookies also have cash projections and betting behaviour to consider. In other words, they not only need to consider what they believe is the likelihood of events, but also how to make money should the market be heavily weighted one way. Bookmakers want to avoid big losses when possible, and this can impact market fluctuations as well.

Speaking of market fluctuations, odds are also impacted by other bookmakers. They need to ensure they are competitive with them and are anchored to a range of implied probability by their competitors to an extent. It is very complicated, but the things which make it more complicated are to the detriment of the bookmaker – we’ll be discussing this and how to take advantage of that fact, at the end of this section. Indeed, we haven’t yet considered margins.

The Overround

Margins, or the overround, is essentially how the bookmaker attempts to ensure that they can make money consistently considering all of these variables. The way it works is simple. If you have all possible outcomes, all implied probabilities should come to 100% because 100% means certain. However, they will come to over that amount and that is known as the bookmaker’s margin. That number is the edge the bookmakers has on you and how they consistently make money and stay in business.

Some people view the overround as being proof of betting being unfair. While we will certainly concede that this represents an advantage that the operator has over the bettor, we disagree as long as the overround is reasonable.

The bottom line is that the operator, for all of their complexities, are essentially doing the same as you. Through all of the odds they put out there, they are making a prediction on what they think the outcome of a set of events will be. And there is no magic formula to those predictions. They do not have a secret. They have research, and algorithms, but as we will discuss shortly when we talk about Kickform, you have all of those things at your disposal as well.

And on top of that, you do not have the same market anchors that they do. In other words, people may think the bookmakers’ position is rock solid, but that is not the case. They are every bit of capable of getting things wrong as anyone else is, they just do everything they can within their power and expertise to make the smartest predictions possible. Once again, that’s exactly what we advise you to do.

Without the overround, we might have much fewer places to bet, and much fewer markets to bet on. With that said there is a limit to how much operators can get away with here and for it to still be considered fair. Around 110% as a percentage of all markets, so a 10% overround, is a rough rule of thumb as to the upper levels of acceptable, although it is worth noting that some markets, take e-sports for instance, tend to have higher margins.

Why Might Odds Change?

There are plenty of different reasons odds can change, including many of the things we’ve already mentioned. There could generally be fluctuations in the market via competitors, betting activity significantly in one or several directions of a mixture of these factors. They can also change due to promotions as we have discussed. But there’s also change due to real world activity.

If it is before a game, it could be due to player news like injuries or weather. During the game, odds change rapidly as events on the field – or indeed, on whatever sporting surface is relevant – change the likelihood of events often incredibly quickly. Being able to react rapidly is therefore a vital part of your success in this case – as well as to the quality of live betting and live streaming from your chosen bookmaker.

Recognising the Right Markets for You

We’ve discussed strategy earlier in the article. We concluded there that a large part of success is recognising when operators have made mistakes in their implied probability – in other words, where we think their predictions are wrong. And this is absolutely true. What we would add, for your consideration, now we’ve also discussed the practicalities of how operators work, is the advantage you have over them.

An operator has a huge number of different things to consider when it comes to making their predictions, and that is what odds are. Ultimately, all you need to consider is whether or not their predictions line up with yours. While this may not be strategic advice, we hope that this thought can give you some confidence in your ability to recognise when these opportunities arise. And you have all the tools to do it at your disposal.

In order to recognise those right markets, you can utilise our odds conversion table and calculator to see what their implied probability is, then consider whether you agree with that probability. And if you want a huge dose of extra help in that regard, utilise our Kickform tool in order to back your predictions up with science for the most carefully considered bets possible. There’s no such thing as a guaranteed bet, but there is such a thing as more intelligent betting, and we think all this knowledge – and with the tools we have provided – you can achieve exactly that.

Is There a Bookmaker That Always Has the Best Betting Odds?

The short answer to this is no. If there was one bookmaker that was always giving out the best odds, we would have a much more straightforward table, and indeed, a more straightforward article. The fact is that on any given market, there’s a fairly ample shortlist of names that regularly come out as the best bookmakers for betting odds. Some are better on certain markets or sports, but there’s certainly no guarantee that any operator, no matter how good, will provide the absolute best odds.

However, there absolutely are bookmakers that are more consistent than others in providing the best odds. We actually did tests to see which of the best bookmakers for odds would come out on top when compared across a series of days and markets. We have a table featuring our final results below, and you can check out our full article about betting comparison experiments if you want more information. And below is our final betting odds table for the winners if you just want to see the end results. But in short, the answer is no, but the answer to the question “are some bookmakers generally better for odds?” is a big yes.

Rank Bookmaker Points
1st bet365 214
2nd Betfair 98
3rd 888sport 95
4th Unibet 65
5th William Hill 55
6th BetVictor 47
7th Ladbrokes 46
8th Paddy Power 39
9th Betfred 27
10th Coral 14

This table is the result of testing odds on the best bookies for football, several Tennis events , Golf across several days, Horse Racing markets aplenty, Cricket games from far and wide, Snooker matches and tournaments, and not to mention American Sports markets.


  • 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.
  • Favourites is a term used to describe the event or team or competitors viewed as most likely to win. They would be reflected by “Odds On” odds, hence the term “Odds On Favourites”
  • Probability is a term which refers to the likelihood of an event occurring. Odds are a reflection of probability and a way to understand the level of probability it is implied that the operator expects that specific outcome to have. For example, 1/1 fractional odds are the same as 2.00 decimal odds and +100 American odds, and they all imply a 50% probability, or, they there is an even chance of an happening.
  • Bet Boosts/Enhanced Odds Promotions are terms reflecting any kind of promotion which offers better odds as its bonus, both of these terms are used interchangeably, and many other names are also used across different operators. But these remain the most common.
  • Each Way Betting is a term where your bet covers your pick to either win a race or to come in other positions laid out as part of the betting terms, say second of third. Term most commonly seen when betting on horse racing.
  • Money Line Odds is a common term used for American odds, and the terms are generally interchangeable.
  • Bet Slip is a term used to describe the ticket that includes your important betting information including the stake, odds, and return. Traditionally an actual physical ticket or piece of paper, they have made their way into the online world where they perform the same function. You will find all the key information about your ongoing bets here, and it is often found at the right-hand side of your screen.
  • Overround/Bookmakers Margin are terms which refer to the percentage above 100 all possible converted implied probabilities of an event come to. If you had two teams to win and a draw as markets, logically all converted implied probabilities should come to 100%. Because this means certain, and we know that logically, one of these events must occur. But they will go over, and that is the overround/bookmakers’ margin, it is essentially the edge the bookmaker has on the players and how they manage to make money the overwhelming majority of the time when all the different markets are taken into account.

Betting Odds Explained FAQs

Absolutely. There are operators that consistently have better odds than some other operators.
No there is not, no bookmaker has a monopoly on the best odds. However, some do have the best odds more commonly than others, but it depends on the market.
They are a way of understanding both the implied probability of an event and your potential return should you bet on that market.
The three key types of betting odds are decimal, American and fractional. A full explanation of how they work can be found in this article.
No. All of them are simply ways of expressing odds, it has no impact on the quality of the odds.

ThePuntersPage Final Say

One of the things we always try to make clear at The Punters Page is that for all our advice, all our in-depth sportsbook reviews, analysis and all our talk about smart betting, we always want you to keep the fact that betting is supposed to be about enjoying yourself at the absolute forefront of your mind.

And that is true.

But we think this analytical approach can and should be part of that goal. With our help none of this needs to be hard work like it once was. On top of that this approach does come with its own rewards, not just in terms of making smarter bets but also in your ability to better understand your favourite sports and markets in the long term makes you have a new and deeper appreciation for the games that you love. Getting the best odds is just one part of our measured, thoughtful approach to betting. And there’s nothing fun about getting poor quality odds.

Although it might not initially appear to be the most thrilling part of the betting experience, figuring out where to get the right odds for you, your preferred markets and betting strategies, is a vital part of getting the most out of your betting. And not just from a tactical point of view.