Whenever you place a bet on any sporting event, bookmakers will publish their ‘odds’ on the likelihood of your chosen outcome taking place. For example, if you think Team A will beat Team B in a specific match then the bookies will set those odds accordingly.
If Team A is a strong unit then the odds will be short, and you won’t receive quite as much money if they win. On the other hand, if Team B is strong and you choose to back Team A, the odds will be longer and your returns much higher.
When you’re betting, the odds you receive may be calculated in different ways, and essentially, there are three different classifications – fractional, decimal and American. The bookmaker in question may allow you to choose between all three, or alternatively, they may stick to a certain classification before they can be altered. But before you part with a penny, you must be aware of what each set of odds actually means.
Fractional odds are the ones that most gamblers in Great Britain will be comfortable with. The familiarity makes it easy to establish which the favourites are in any particular event and which are the rank outsiders.
As an example, if you back a football team to win a match at odds of 5/1 and you stake £10.00, you receive £50.00 back if that team wins, but you will also receive your original stake of £10.00 making a return of £60.00 in total.
One of the common complaints with fractional odds is that it can be difficult to compare prices between individual bookmakers. For example, unless you are an experienced gambler or a particularly skilled mathematician, do you know whether odds of 5/2 are better than odds of 23/11?
Even more confusing are the odds on figures: how does 1/5 compare with a price of 2/13? There are many more comparisons that are even more confusing, and with some bookmakers using unfamiliar sets of odds such as 43/17, it’s no great surprise that more and more punters are looking at decimal odds which are far easier to understand.
A typical decimal price may be something like 5.00 or 2.50. For this example, let’s assume that you’ve backed a football team at odds of 2.5 to win a match and you choose to stake £10.00 on the final outcome.
If that particular team wins, then you collect 10 x 2.5 = £25.00, and those are your winnings in their entirety. One of the key differences between decimal and fractional is that decimal odds do not return your original stake, but this doesn’t mean you’re disadvantaged.
The odds setters will look to provide the same prices as those providing decimal odds, so they are intended to be just as competitive.
Another point to remember is that decimal odds do not drop below 1.00, and they are never negative. The equivalent of fractional odds on price would therefore be between 1.01 and 1.99, and the shortest they could possibly be is 1.01.
At first glance, decimal odds may seem a little confusing, but many punters prefer them once they begin to understand how they operate. In fact, they are far more straightforward and simple than fractional prices, and we could see more and more bookmakers moving over to Decimal Odds in the future.
As the name suggests, American Odds originated in the United States, but you will sometimes come across them in other parts of the world. American Odds can be either positive or negative and while they are similar in many ways to decimal odds, they can seem a little more confusing when you first see them.
The easiest example is to start with the positive set of odds, and you may see the outcome of a particular event priced at +400 using this system. If you take that bet at +400 then your total return is £50.00 – £40.00 of which is your winnings and £10.00 your original stake.
However, you may also see an event priced up at -250, effectively an odds on situation. If you take that price of -250 then your total return is £14.00 = £4.00 plus your original £10.00 stake.
Those based in the UK will rarely have to deal with American odds, but there is a growing rise in decimal prices. Ultimately, you still have a choice, and most bookies, and the majority of comparison sites will publish both decimal and fractional odds on their site.