One of the most daunting parts of betting for new punters is making sense of the sometimes overwhelming number of odds and options in a given market or event. However, with a little patience and practice, analysing the numbers and betting odds can become second nature.
Simply put, the odds assigned to a particular outcome of a sporting event represent the probability or likelihood of that outcome actually happening. While it would make life much easier if all teams went into each individual contest with a 50/50 chance of victory, in reality, the outcome is affected by a large number of variables. Some teams are stronger than others or perform better at home, while others might have a mounting injury list – all these factors can affect the odds a bookmaker calculates and assigns.
Generally, bookmakers display odds in three different ways to cater for different users. The three odds display options are fractional, decimal, and American. In the next section, we will explain how each one works.
Fractional odds are the most popular among punters in the UK and Europe. They are quite similar to decimal odds, but they are displayed in a slightly different manner. The way they work is as follows. Bookmakers display the odds as a unit stake, meaning that a bettor sees their potential winnings instead of their potential winnings + original stake. For example, a 10/1 selection gives a punter £10 profit on a £1 bet.
Proving more popular among bettors outside of the UK and Europe, decimal odds provide a much clearer idea of how much a punter stands to win on a successful selection. For example, decimal odds of 5.0 on a £10 stake would return £50 to the successful bettor. This would include £40 winnings plus the original £10 stake. Often, bookmakers display the odds to two decimal places (e.g. 1.24, 2.25), to help bettors accurately calculate potential winnings.
American odds, often called “money lines”, work completely differently to fractional and decimal odds. American odds are calculated on the potential returns of a £100 stake. A positive sign shows how much profit a punter could make on the line, while a negative sign shows how much would be needed to bring the potential profit up to the £100 mark.
There is a simple technique you can use to calculate the probability of a given set of odds. We will use fractional odds for our example, but decimal odds can be used in an identical way. For argument’s sake, let’s say you are given odds of 4/1 on a particular match outcome. If the fraction is X/Y, we can use the following formula to calculate the probability: Y/(X+Y)
Therefore, our odds of 4/1 mean that the chances of that outcome happening are 20%.
Similarly, if you reverse that fraction to make it 1/4, the same formula places the probability at 80%.
The ability to calculate your potential returns from a bet is a useful skill for a punter to have. Deducing a possible payout total can help you decide which odds are the most lucrative, while also giving you a figure to use when you want to compare bets with other bookmakers.
Of course, fractional odds display your returns without the need for calculation, while multiplying decimal odds by your stake would give you an accurate returns figure there (e.g. 4.0 is 4x£10 = £40 returns). Calculating the return on American odds can prove a little trickier, so your best bet is to use a conversion tool to convert them into either fractional or decimal odds.