How do betting odds work?

  • Betting odds are used to assess the likelihood of an event happening. 
  • Less likely events tend to have higher odds and offer a larger reward, while more likely events have a lower risk attached and therefore a lower reward. 
  • Your winnings depend on how much you wager on a given set of odds. 
  • Betting odds are seen in a range of formats – they are most commonly seen as fractions but are also sometimes presented as decimals. 

A quick introduction to betting odds 

Decimal and fraction odds might seem confusing, especially if you’re not familiar with online sports betting and all the betting terms and types. This handy guide is ideal for anyone new to betting, or if you’re struggling to read the odds. 

It contains a range of useful tips and tricks that will help you better understand just how betting odds work, so you can choose odds and place your bets with more confidence. 

Here, we will highlight: 

  • The key points of betting odds and what you should look out for. 
  • How to read betting odds and make them work in your favour. 
  • Tips and tricks to help you understand betting odds more easily. 

What are betting odds? 

Betting odds are used to present the likelihood of an outcome, as well as help you understand how much you could win from a bet. They are often written out as a fraction (e.g. 2/1) or a decimal (e.g. 3.0). 

Betting odds can be applied to anything that has a set outcome and is often seen in sport, football betting, entertainment, and politics. The odds measure the probability of a certain outcome, such as the result of a sports game or reality TV show, or whether a certain party gets the majority vote in an election. 

How do betting odds work? 

Betting odds are used to determine probability and calculate the winnings from a bet and are often seen in their decimal or fractional form. Odds are commonly recognised as being even, long, or short. 

Even odds 

When something is just as likely to happen as not, it is given even odds. These are presented as 1/1 in fractional odds or 2.0 in decimal odds. In this instance, your winnings would be the same as your stake. 

For example: In the case of 1/1 odds, you win £1 for every £1 you bet. 

Therefore, if you bet £10 you’d win £10, and return £20 in total (your £10 stake plus your £10 winnings). 

Long odds 

If something is statistically less likely to happen, it is given long odds. This means you have the potential to win more than you would on even odds, but the risk of losing is higher. 

For example: In the case of 10/1 long odds (or 11.0 in decimal form), you could win £10 for every £1 you bet, and therefore your winnings exceed your stake. 

A winning £10 bet at 10/1 odds would result in £100 winnings plus your £10 stake, therefore returning £110 in total. 

Short odds 

If something has a higher probability of happening, it is given short odds. While short odds are more likely to happen, the winnings will be smaller, and therefore you’ll need to stake higher amounts for a bigger return. 

For example: In the case of 1/10 short odds (1.10 in decimal form), you could win £1 for every £10 you bet. 

Therefore, a winning £10 bet would result in £1 in winnings, amounting to a return of £11 (your £1 winnings plus your £10 stake). 

How to read betting odds 

Betting odds are most commonly presented as a fraction or a decimal in the UK. Moneyline odds, which are common in the US, are also becoming more popular. 

Reading odds can be confusing if you’re not familiar with what the different sets of numbers reflect. Here, we explain how to read decimal, fraction, and moneyline odds. 

Understanding decimal odds 

The simple rule of thumb with decimal betting odds is the bigger the number, the larger the return will be. For example, decimal odds of 3.75 will result in larger winnings than decimal odds of 1.75. 

To work out your winnings from decimal odds, simply multiply the odds by your stake. The resulting number reflects both your winnings and your stake. 

For example: If you bet £10 on odds of 3.75, you would return £37.50 – this means you’ll have won £27.50 (£37.50 – your £10 stake). 

Understanding fractional odds     

Fractional odds are a more traditional way of displaying odds in the UK. Appearing in fraction form (e.g. 2/1), you must first work out your winnings and then add on your stake to determine your total return. 

The best way to calculate your returns from fractional odds is to follow a formula: 

((stake/second number) x first number) + stake = total returns 

This might look complicated, but we promise it will make sense when you plug your numbers in. 

For example: If you bet £10 on a 5/2 bet, your calculation would look like: 

((£10/2) x 5) + £10) = £35 

For longer odds with a larger return, look out for odds where the first half of the fraction is larger than the second half. 

For example Odds of 5/1 will return greater winnings than odds of 1/5. If you were to stake £10 on odds of 5/1, then your return would be £60. However, if you were to stake £10 on odds of 1/5, your return would only be £12. 

Understanding moneyline odds 

Moneyline odds are often used in the US when betting on American sports, but they are becoming more common in Britain. They are presented as a plus (+) or minus (-) figure. 

The moneyline shows you how much you have to bet to win £100. 

For example: If you are presented with odds of +200, then your return (if you stake £100) will be £300 (your £200 winnings plus your £100 stake). 

If you are presented odds of -200 (because this event is more likely) you will have to stake £200 to return £300 (your £200 stake plus £100 winnings). 

To calculate the potential payout from a moneyline bet, simply follow this formula 

stake x (odds/100) + stake = total returns 

For example: If you are presented with odds of +200 and you bet £5, your formula would look like: 

£5 x (200/100) + £5 = £15 total returns 

Converting decimal odds to fractions 

Converting decimal betting odds to fractions takes a bit of basic maths knowledge. 

First, take your decimal odds and subtract 1 from the number. 

For example: If you have decimal odds of 3.75, subtract 1 and you are left with 2.75. These are odds of 2.75/1. 

Odds need to be made up of whole numbers, so we need to take 2.75 and turn it into a whole number. The easiest way in this instance is to multiply 2.75 by 100 and move the decimal along two places. This gives us 275/100. 

From there, we can work our way to finding the smallest equivalent fraction. 

In this case, we can divide our fraction by 25, leaving us with fractional odds of 11/4 – previously 3.75 when presented as a decimal. 

Now that you understand betting odds and how they work, you can begin to use them to your advantage. Browse all the latest sports betting odds or sign up to Grosvenor Casinos today to get started. 

How to calculate betting odds return 

Using our bet calculator, you can now work out how much a potential bet could return. 

The calculator gives you the option to select the bet type, the win odds, your stake, and whether the bet placed will be each way or not. 

As well as finding out how much your bet will potentially return, the calculator also gives you the total profit. 

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