Understanding Betting Odds

For those of you interested in online betting, understanding betting odds can be a daunting task. However this needn’t be the case, as a basic understanding of how odds are calculated should allow even the beginner to understand and implement them in their betting activities.

What are Odds?

In essence, odds are a reflection of the likelihood of a certain outcome taking place in a specific event.

“What on earth does that mean?”, you might ask.

In every event where there is betting involved, all outcomes have a certain chance of taking place.
Odds are simply an interpretation of those chances, and the odds presented by bookmakers merely reflect such chances to the best of the bookmaker’s abilities, minus the bookmaker’s edge.

Most online bookmakers offer up to three different choices on how you want to view your betting odds: Decimal, Fractional or American.

Decimal Odds

Decimal odds are commonly used in Europe and are therefore sometimes referred to as European odds.

To convert a chance into decimal odds just put the probability as a percentage and divide it into 100.

100/%Chance = decimal odds

So, if you believe that something has a 50% chance of winning, then:

100/50 = 2 or odds of 2.0.

Say then that you want to place a bet on a selection that has decimal odds of 2.0. If you win, for every pound that you stake you will receive2 pounds back. Stake £100 and you will receive back £200. This amount received back includes your original stake in the odds.


Fractional Odds

The more traditional fractional odds are often still used in the UK, and can therefore also be referred to as British odds, UK odds or traditional odds. These odds quote the net total that will be paid out to the bettor should he win, relative to his initial stake.

So if you want to use fractional odds, simply treat them like fractions. If you divide the first number by the second, you’ll get the amount that you win, not including your initial stake that will also be returned.

For example, 5/1 means that whatever your stake at those odds, you’ll get 5 times back your stake if you win, plus the stake itself. So, £1 on a 5/1 bet will give you £5 winnings and your £1 stake back.
Using the 50% chance example listed above in the decimals odds section,the fractional odds equivalent of 2.0 are 1/1 which is also knows as evens or even money.

So say that you want to place a bet that has odds of 1/1. If you win, forevery pound you stake you will win £1 and you will receive your initial £1 stake back, giving you a total return of £2. If you place a bet of £100 at 1/1, then you will win £100 and have your £100 stake returned, giving a total return of £200.


American Odds

Also known as moneyline odds, these odds are favoured by US bookmakers as their name suggests. These odds show either a negative or a positive figure when quoting the odds of a certain outcome taking place.

If US Odds are indicated with a + sign then they show the amount you would win for a £100 stake. If there is a – sign then they show how much you need to stake to win £100.

So if you are betting on an event which has decimal odds of 2, or fractional odds of 1/1, the US Odds would be +100 (i.e. you would win £100 if you bet £100). If you are betting at decimal odds of 1.5, or fractional odds of 1/2, then the US odds would be -200 (you need to bet £200 in order to win £100 more).



If you are interested in online sports betting and think that you have what it takes to profit, then it’s important that you educate yourself first before starting to bet. This will give you the best possible chance of coming out ahead in the long run.

Find bookmakers that offer odds with the least edge and therefore present the best value to you. Also, take advantage of bookmaker’s sometimes generous free bets on offer, as these can increase your profit if used wisely.

Finally, do an in-depth study on the event on which you wish to bet. Read statistics, match previews, past performances and anything at all that could have an impact on the result.

Being informed in this way will allow you to make the best possible choice, which will in turn give you the best possible chance of winning on the day.

Helping you find the best bet