Betting Odds And How They Work

Sports betting is a hugely popular activity in the United Kingdom and around the world. When betting, punters enjoy the sporting event with the possibility of winning some extra money. However, when first-time bettors visit a betting site, they’re often left confused over the way odds are displayed. 

It sometimes causes people to decide against betting online as they’re unsure what the odds mean and what wagering option presents them with the best chance of winning. Below you will find a quick explanation of how betting sites calculate their odds.

What Are Betting Odds

Betting odds are the statistical probability of an event happening such as a football team winning a game, a horse winning a race or, in ‘Special’ wagers, a celebrity winning an award. Although the odds are fairly similar across bookmakers, some do offer higher (better) or lower (worse) odds than their competitors. This might be purely due to another way of calculation or simply to be more attractive to players than the website/shop next door. 

It’s therefore important to compare betting sites before signing up because better odds automatically means more return in case you bet on the correct outcome. There are comparison websites like that make it easy for you to find the operators with attractive odds and welcome bonuses. 

Before you start; not all bookmakers display their odds the same way. Some use the fractional odds and others decimals. It’s similar to Fahrenheit and Celcius; the temperature itself is the same, but the measuring unit is not. 

Fractional and decimals odds

Bookmakers and online sportsbooks in the UK generally display their odds in two ways, fractional and decimal. Fractional odds have been used in the UK for decades and were previously used on racetracks or high-street bookmakers. 

Most sportsbooks are no, however, moving towards decimal odds, which has always been more popular in Continental Europe. Betfair was one of the first larger bookmakers to make the change, and as a reason, they stated that players find it easier to understand decimal odds. 

It’s also important to understand that fractional odds state the ratio of the profit won to the stake. When calculated, decimal odds indicate the amount you’ll win for every £1 wagered and include your winnings and your returned stake, which means it’s much more reliable to use when working out your returns. 

Again, which measuring unit to go with depends on your experience level and personal preference. At most online sportsbook, you have the option to switch between fractional and decimal.

American Odds

The American odds are vastly different from the two above and, as the name suggests, most popular in the United States. 

American odds with a minus sign (-) state how much you’ll need to stake to win £100. Meanwhile, American odds with a positive sign (+) state how much profit you’ll make for every £100 wagered. This makes American odds incredibly easy to understand, but it’s rare to find bookmakers displaying American odds. 

Why Odds Are Useful

Odds are essential to (sports) betting because they give you a clear idea of how much you are going to win if you predict the correct outcome of any event. They further tell you the likelihood of an event happening; if a sportsbook gives you odds of 1000:1 for a particular tennis player to win the Wimbledon trophy, you can be sure that it is highly unlikely this player will win the tournament. If s/he does, and you predicted it, it’s payday! 

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