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Betting Odds Explained: The Start Point For Every Punter

  • Written by Martina Maritato
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If you’re new to betting, one of the first things you should do is learn how betting odds work. Understanding what odds are, how they work and what they represent is the first step in developing a basic understanding of betting. Bookmakers try and make things as simple as possible and here at Bet & Skill we’re here to tell you all you need to know about betting odds and the different variations…

If you want to learn about betting there really is only one place to start - odds.

Odds are the determining factor of whether you place a bet or not and give you all the information you need to know from the favourite outcome of an event to how much you’ll receive as a winning payout.

Understanding the varying types of odds is absolutely vital if you want to succeed in sportsbook betting, if you don’t you’re placing wagers ultimately on luck. And that’s never a winning formula.

Odds may look a confusing and daunting thing to the untrained eye, but they really aren’t difficult to understand.

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UNDERSTANDING BETTING ODDS: WHAT THEY TELL US   Firstly it’s important to understand exactly what betting odds tell us. Ultimately, they tell us two things, the probability of an outcome occurring and how much you will win by placing ‘x’ amount.

The shorter the odds are on an event, the more likely that outcome will happen. The longer the odds the less likely it will happen. In the bookmakers opinion of course.

It perhaps goes without saying that the outcomes with longer odds will offer better payouts than those with shorter odds, as you’re playing more of a risk with your selections.

The odds will allow you to calculate your returns, with different ways of doing so dependent on how the odds are displayed.

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DIFFERENT VARIATIONS OF BETTING ODDS EXPLAINED 
There are a number of ways in which odds are displayed, with the two main being Fractional and Decimal. However, American odds are also available and popular in the United States, so are worth knowing too.

Below you’ll find all you need to know about the different types of odds, including what they are and how to calculate them…

Decimal Odds


Decimal Odds are particularly popular in the UK with football betting and offer odds in decimal form.

The lower the number, the more favoured the outcome of the selection. The higher the number, the less chance of the selection coming through in the eyes of the bookmaker.

For Example:

Let’s say you wanted to place a bet on the first goal scorer of a Premier League fixture between Brighton and Liverpool. The odds would look a little like this…

  • Mohamed Salah - 3.80
  • Daniel Sturridge - 4.50
  • Roberto Firmino - 5.00
  • Divock Origi - 5.00
  • Xherdan Shaqiri - 5.50
  • Sadio Mane - 5.50
  • Glenn Murray - 9.00
  • Florin Andone - 10.00

There would be a full list of all players with odds, but you get the picture. From this selection, Salah is the favourite to score first has he has the lowest decimal odds, while the bookmakers believe Florin Andone has the least chance of scoring first from eight players.

How To Calculate Decimal Odds

From the odds you’d then be able to calculate how much you can win by placing a bet. This is done incredibly easily, with you simply having to multiply your stake money by the decimal odds.

So, using the odds above, let’s say you were to place £2 on Sadio Mane to score first. To calculate this you would use the following formula…

2 x 5.50 = 11

This would give you winnings of £11 if Mane did score first in the game.

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Fractional Odds

Fractional Odds are equally as easy to understand, with selections with short odds having more chance of winning than those with longer odds.

The favourite for an event will therefore be the outcome with the shortest odds. The way odds are displayed, using the same goal scorer market as above, are as follows…

  • Mohamed Salah - 14/5
  • Daniel Sturridge - 7/2
  • Roberto Firmino - 4/1
  • Divock Origi - 4/1
  • Xherdan Shaqiri - 9/2
  • Sadio Mane - 9/2
  • Glenn Murray - 8/1
  • Florin Andone - 9/1

Fractional Odds can give you a clear indicator of a selections probability. To calculate it you simply take the right hand number from the fraction and divide it by the total of both the right and left hand side of the fraction combined. To turn that into a percentage then multiply by 100

For Example:

If you wished to figure out the probability of the favourite you would use the following formula:

5 / 19 = 0.26 x 100 = 26%

This therefore suggests that betting on Mo Salah to score first has a 26% chance of winning.

How To Calculate Fractional Odds

Calculating Fractional Odds is another easy process using the two numbers within the fraction.

The number on the left of the fraction is how much you will win if you place the number on the right as a stake. You would also receive your stake money back on top of this, so if you placed a bet on an outcome priced at 2/1 and you bet £1, you would receive £2 in winnings and then your stake of £1, giving you a total return of £3.

For Example:

If you wished to place a bet on Roberto Firmino at 4/1. The amount you wish to stake is £5. To calculate your winnings you would multiply the left hand number by five (as you’re placing five times the stake).

4 x 5 = 20

This would give you winnings of £20, plus your £5 stake back giving you a total return of £25.

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American Odds
American Odds are a little less popular in the UK but are being used more than ever before with the major bookmakers like William Hill and Paddy Power.

They’re very different to Fractional and Decimal Odds and are displayed as positive (+) and negative (-) numbers.

The negative numbers are the more favoured odds and the positive the more outside shots. The lower the negative number, the more favoured an outcome is, with the higher the positive being the outcome with lower chances of winning.

For Example:

Using the same Brighton v Liverpool fixture and first goal scorer, odds would look as follows:

  • Mohamed Salah - +280
  • Daniel Sturridge - +350
  • Roberto Firmino - +400
  • Divock Origi - +400
  • Xherdan Shaqiri - +450
  • Sadio Mane - +450
  • Glenn Murray - +800
  • Florin Andone - +900

The numbers displayed as the odds allow you to work much you will earn in accordance with £100.

How To Calculate American Odds


You calculate American Odds in two ways dependent on whether the selection has a positive or negative number.

For positive numbers, the number displayed is the amount you will receive as winnings for every £100 bet, with your stake returned on top of that.

For Example:

If you wanted to place a bet on Mo Salah, you would receive £280 plus stake for every £100 bet.

Let’s say you wanted to bet £10 on Mo Salah, the calculations would give you a profit of £28, plus your £10 stake giving you return of £38.

If you wanted to bet on a number with a negative number, the odds represent the amount you need to wager to receive a winning profit of £100.

Taking the Match Result market from Brighton v Liverpool, the odds would look as follows:

  • Brighton - +900
  • Draw - +450
  • Liverpool - -333

In this instance, Liverpool are clear favourites with odds of -333. This means you would need to bet £333 to earn a profit of £100, giving you a total return of £433.

If you wanted to lower the stakes, you’d have to bet £3.33 to earn a profit of £1, for example.

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