Betting Odds Explained: A Beginners Guide To Fractional & Decimal Odds

I always think that being a very good gambler is a learning curve and to be a good gambler, you need to learn as much as possible about how it works. I have seen many people in the past placing bets without really understanding what they are doing, and anything about the sport they are betting on. This can cause them a lot of problems, especially if they do not really understand the gambling side of things.

One area that a lot of people struggle with is how to understand the different odds that are available and the different formats in which they come in. It doesn’t matter which format you use, you should understand the difference and be able to work out what odds are the best in a quick way so you can quickly bag yourself the best available price. Should you not understand the odds, you could find yourself eating into your profit by not taking the best possible odds when you have the chance.

Backing at the wrong price can make you lose money, rather than making a profit while backing at the best odds every time will give you an even bigger profit. Constantly backing at the wrong odds is an expensive error to make, so make sure you fully understand the odds, in a variety of different ways, so that you are always getting yourself the best deal.

There are two main odds formats used by betting websites, these are fractional odds and decimal odds. Both of these methods can be complicated to understand when you first look at them, but it is vital that you get to grips with them as soon as possible. Once you fully understand them you will find yourself making much better gambling decisions, as well as making those decisions much quicker so you can always get the best price available. This will lead you to become a better gambler who makes good decisions and most importantly, one who makes the best profit they can.

Fractional Odds

The traditional form of odds is fractional odds. These are the old-fashioned format and the ones that you will see if you go into a betting shop on the high street. These can be hard to understand at first, especially the smaller odds that are around evens and the ones that show a selection is odds on. Due to them being hard to understand at the start, many young gamblers who bet online are turning to decimal odds. However, I prefer and would always advise people to use fractional odds because they are still used in betting shops. If you use decimal odds, but need to go into a betting shop then you will struggle to understand what odds are available to you.

As the name suggests, fractional odds are displayed as fractions. The fractions show stake and returns for a specific unit, although unlike decimal odds, the specific unit can vary when using fractional odds. This is the main difference, decimal odds are always shown to a one unit stake while fractional odds can be shown to many different units.

Fractional odds shown using one unit stake are odds like 2/1 or 6/1. These odds show your returns plus your stake for one unit, so in the example of 2/1, the one unit stake gives your winnings of two units and a total return of three units back to you. As far as fractional odds go, these are certainly the easiest to learn and understand and are the starting point for anyone wanting to start learning fractional odds.

The second common way of showing fractional odds is with a unit stake of two, these are half odds in between the ones listed above to give the bookmakers more flexibility. These can be odds like 7/2 or 9/2 and they are always placed in between the odds above. In these two examples, 7/2 is actually 3.5/1, while 9/2 is actually 4.5/1. Bookmakers will use these odds as a stepping stone, so instead of changing a price from 5/1 to 4/1, they will first lower it to 9/2, and then move it to 4/1.

Using the price 9/2 as we have above, the odds shown give you a return of nine units for your stake of two units. This means a total return of 11 units for a two unit bet. These are commonly used fractions so make sure you understand how the work and the returns you get. To work out what you will receive back for just one unit, simply half the returns for a two-unit bet.

The final odds to speak about are the most complicated type of odds and the main reason why people turn to fractional odds. These are very common in football when the odds are smaller so for a football gambler it is vital you get to grips with these if you are going to use fractional odds. This section covered odds like 6/4, 11/8 and 7/5. To be the best possible gambler, you need to be able to understand these odds, work out which one is best and make a split-second decision about which price you should be taking. In the above example, 6/4 is the best price available, and the one you should be choosing when backing your selection. The quicker you can work this out the quicker you will be able to place the bet, taking the best price and maximising your profit if you win.

The quickest and easiest way to compare the odds is to try and convert them into the same unit stake if possible. That is available to do with two of the odds listed above, but not the other one. 6/4 can be converted into 12/8, which quickly shows you that it is a bigger price than the 11/8 that is available. You can’t do this every time, but you can do it sometimes and that will allow you to make quick decisions.

Decimal Odds

Decimal odds are used online and the people who use them are often new, young gamblers who struggle to work with fractional odds. While the high street betting shops work in fractions, if you play online you can set your preference to be either fractional or decimal. The decimal odds are pretty simple to work out in comparison to fractional odds and they always show the returns to a one unit stake. This means you don’t have to work out different fractions and you need no calculations to compare what odds are available. In decimal, 2/1 is actually shown as 3.00. The simplest way to work this out is to know that when using decimal odds, the odds show what you would receive back for a one unit stake, including your stake money.

Decimal odds work well for big prices like the one above but where they are really useful is when you are comparing smaller odds. Earlier we showed that with a bit of working out we know that 6/4 is bigger than 11/8 and 7/5. However, when using decimal odds it is much easier to see which is the best available. 6/4 is 2.50 as a decimal, 11/8 is 2.38 and 7/5 is 2.40. By comparing the three decimal odds, you can quickly see that 2.50 is the biggest and will give you the most profit. It is this ease of working out smaller odds that make decimal odds so appealing to football backers and sports people who bet at smaller odds.

In Conclusion

If possible, I would always recommend that punters should try and learn both methods so that they know they can use any method they need to depend on the situation. Decimal odds are the way to go if you are a sports backer, who will never visit a betting shop. However, if you need to use a betting shop from time to time, you will have to understand how fractional odds work.

Me personally I use a combination of both, especially if I am in a hurry and need to quickly place a sports bet. I will always use fractional odds when I am backing horses, but decimal odds when I am quickly placing a football bet. When I don’t have time to work out whether 7/5 is better than 6/4, decimal odds are a great alternative and save all the working out.

I think both types of odds will remain in betting, although I do believe that decimal odds will continue to grow in popularity thanks to internet betting and young gamblers sticking to just betting on football. Those people have no real reason to learn how fractional odds work, and will never need to use them. However, for those that do need to use them, learning how they work is vital to you making the most profit you possibly can from your bets.

Take time and learn both types if you can, it will help you in the long run and will ensure you are never stuck when it comes to placing a bet.