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Betting Odds Explained?

Odds are the numbers used by online bookmakers to show how likely something is to happen. They give you a quick indication of how much you could expect to win if your bet wins. This guide will introduce you to the world of odds, the different ways they can be used and what they mean to you and your matched betting journey.

With so many numbers appearing in different formats, betting websites can be overwhelming for the beginner. But as long as you can get to grips with a few simple mathematical ideas, it’ll all become a lot easier. This guide will show you how betting odds work.

How betting odds work 

Betting odds are usually expressed either as fractions (e.g. ‘3/1’) or as decimals (e.g. 4.0). Fractions were traditionally used to bet on horse racing and were most popular in high street betting shops in the UK, before the advent of internet gambling.

As the web has become more popular as a place to bet, European decimal odds have become more commonplace. Moneyline, or American, odds are favoured by US bookmakers and punters, and are often expressed as positive and negative values (e.g. +250, -400).

While the differences may seem confusing at first glance, they’re simply different ways of expressing the same thing.

How to read betting odds

Once you understand betting odds and the differences between them, reading them becomes easy.

Fractional odds explained

Fractional odds tell us how much we stand to win in relation to our stake.

The number on the left side of the fraction is the amount we stand to win if we stake the amount on the right side of the fraction.

So, if we bet £1.00 on England to win the World Cup at odds of 9/1, we’ll win £9.00, plus our £1.00 stake back, giving us total returns of £10.00.

Here are some other examples…

5/1 – We’ll win £5.00 for every £1.00 we bet
6/4 – We’ll win £6.00 for every £4.00 we bet
1/2 – We’ll win £1.00 for every £2.00 we bet

Decimal odds explained

Decimal odds show us how much a winning bet will return, inclusive of our stake.

We simply multiply our stake by the odds, to get our total returns.

So, if we bet £1.00 on England to win the World Cup at odds of 10.00, we’ll win £10.00, which includes our £1.00 stake.

Here are some other examples…

6.00 – A £1.00 bet would return £6.00
2.50 – A £4.00 bet would return £10.00
1.50 – A £2.00 bet would return £3.00

Converting odds

To convert decimals to fractions, subtract 1 from the decimal and find the nearest whole integer. So, if you have odds of 4.5, this becomes 3.5/1, which you can turn into 7/2 by multiplying both sides by 2. To convert fractional odds into decimals, divide the first number by the second and add one, e.g. 7/2 +1 = 4.5.

Which odds should we use for matched betting?

When it comes to matched betting, we need to use decimal odds.

That’s because decimal odds are simpler and much easier to compare at a glance, which is an essential part of the matched betting process.

The betting exchanges display their odds as decimals, so it makes sense to use decimals at the bookmakers too.

To illustrate just how much easier decimal odds are to compare than fractions, take a look at the following graphics…