If you’re new to betting, one of the first things you should do is learn how betting odds work. it is vitally important because it allows you to understand the probability of an event happening and what your potential earnings will be. At first, it may seem confusing. but read this betting odds explained guide to help understand.
in betting, the odds represent the relationship between the amounts wagered by the parties in a bet or wager. therefore, odds of 3 to 1 mean that the first party (the bookmaker) bets three times the amount wagered by the second party (the bettor).
Reading: What are odds in betting
- 1 what is probability?
- 2 using betting odds to calculate probability
- 3 using betting odds to calculate winnings
- 4 what about decimals?
- 5 betting example
- 6 decimal odds vs. fractional odds
- 7 use our tool to convert betting odds to your favorite format
- 8 in summary
- 9 frequently asked questions about betting odds
- 10 more reading
what is probability?
At the most basic level, betting gives you the ability to predict the outcome of a certain event. if your prediction is correct, you will win money.
for any given event, there are a certain number of outcomes. take rolling a die for example. If someone rolls a die, there are six possible outcomes. therefore, if you bet on the person rolling a ‘one’, there is a 16.67% chance of it happening.
using betting odds to calculate probability
Whenever you see two numbers separated by a forward slash, ie 4/1, this is known as fractional odds. From this, you can calculate the probability of a given event occurring with a calculation. For ease of explanation, let’s replace the numbers with letters, i.e. 4/1 becomes a/b. here is the calculation: probability (%) = b / (a+b).
- 9/1 can be calculated as 1 / (9 + 1) = 0.10 – there is 10% probability that the event will happen.
- 4/1 can be calculated as 1 / (4 + 1) = 0.20 – there is a 20% chance probability that the event will happen.
- 1/1 can be calculated as 1 / (1 + 1) = 0.50 – there is a 50% probability for the event to happen.
- 1/4 can be calculated as 4 / (4 + 1) = 0.80 – there is an 80% chance that the event will occur.
hooray! we are making progress. given a fraction, we can now say how likely (the probability) the thing we are going to bet will happen. Now let’s find out how much money can be won using betting odds.
using betting odds to calculate winnings
betting odds allow you to calculate how much money you will earn if you place a bet. Let’s use the same examples as before, with the same substitution of numbers for letters, i.e. 4/1 becomes a/b. simply, for each value of b you bet, you will win a, plus the return on your bet.
- 9/1 for every €1 you bet, you will win €9.
- 4/1 for every €1 you bet, you will win €4.
- 1/1 for every €1 you bet, you will win €1.
- 1/4 for every €4 you bet, you will win €1.
what about decimals?
Decimals are much more common on exchanges such as betfair, but all major betting sites give you the option to view betting odds in this format. they are an alternative to viewing betting odds in fraction format and are easier to calculate in our opinion. here is the calculation: winnings = (odds * bet) – bet. Let’s illustrate it with some examples
- 9.0 can be calculated as (9.0 * £10 bet) – £10 bet = £80 win.
- 4.0 can be calculated as (4.0 * £10 bet) – £10 bet = £30 win.
- 2.5 can be calculated as (2.5 * £10 bet) – £10 bet = £15 win.
- 1.25 can be calculated as (1.25 * £10 stake) – £10 stake = £2.50 winnings.
To make all of this information a little easier to understand, here’s a quick example of a bet on a soccer match.
if you were rooting for arsenal to beat liverpool 2-0, you could see the odds of that outcome as 4.0 (decimal) or 3/1 (fractional)
you can immediately calculate how much your potential winnings would be if your stake was £10:
- 4.0 can be calculated as 4.0 * £10 stake – £10 = £30 win
- 3/1 for every £1 you stake you will earn £3 – £30 win
- remember, you will also receive your original bet.
You can also use our bet calculator to calculate your winnings. use betting calculator
decimal odds vs. fractional odds
One way is not better than the other, but there is certainly an emerging trend towards using decimal odds. Traditionally, fractional odds have been used in the UK, especially at racecourses and on high street. there are two key differences.
Decimal odds are usually easier to understand. Based on this, there is a movement to attract more people to horse racing by making it more accessible to the average bettor. Ten years ago, if you went to glorious Goodwood or Cheltenham, all odds would be displayed as fractional odds. now, they are mostly all in decimals.
The second difference between the formats is that fractional odds only represent winnings and do not include the return bet compared to decimals which do include the bet. The transition from fractional to decimal odds largely began with the growing popularity of betting exchanges like unibet and ladbrokes.
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For the odds to change slightly, it’s really hard to marginally increase or decrease the odds without creating huge fractions. these are difficult for the punter to calculate and are not a good way to display betting odds explained.
use our tool to convert betting odds to your favorite format
You may find that your favorite online betting site presents the odds exactly as they are likely to be. but sometimes you may need to convert them to understand them.
Our odds conversion tool will allow you to view odds in any format you like. Not only that, but it will tell you how likely the selection is to win!
Betting odds represent the probability of an event happening and therefore allow you to calculate how much money you will earn if your bet wins. As an example, with odds of 4/1, for every €1 you bet, you will win €4. there is a 20% chance of this happening, calculated by 1 / (4 + 1) = 0.20.
that’s it! Hopefully, that’s explaining betting odds. You should now have the knowledge to read betting odds, understand how likely it is to happen and how much you stand to win.
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frequently asked questions about betting odds
which is better, decimal or fractional odds?
There is no right or wrong when it comes to odds formatting. you should only use what is most familiar and easiest to understand
what should I do if the probabilities are displayed in decimals and I normally use fractions?
You can always use an odds converter. but on most online betting sites you will be given the option
why is the use of decimal probabilities more common these days?
UK bookmakers traditionally used the fractional odds format, but the use of decimals is becoming more common. This may be because it is easier to calculate potential earnings. or because they are more widely used throughout Europe.
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