How Odds work: Everything about odds at BettingOnline

What Are Odds and How Do They Work?

One of the most important aspects of sportsbetting that you really need to understand everything about how odds work in sport. This is pretty much the most important part if any bet, as these odds are what determines whether it is a bet that is actually worth making. The amount that you can potentially win on any bet you make is determined by calculating the stake compared to the odds.

These can look quite tricky at times, and sometimes it’s not easy to decipher which ones are better than others, particularly when dealing with fractional odds. Here, we are going to take you through everything you need to know about how odds work in a sport so you can fully understand what you are doing when you place your bet.

What Exactly Are Odds?

In sportsbetting, odds have 2 different purposes. The first, and most obvious, use is to calculate the amount you will win when you place your bet. When you make your bet at your chosen bookmaker, they will offer you the odds of the bet at that specific time. This is what will impact the amount you are potentially going to win. Obviously, the higher they are, the bigger the win.

They are also used to mirror the expected outcome of the game or event. If an outcome has particularly low odds, then this would imply that this is likely to happen. If they are very high for any outcome, then this means it’s an unexpected outcome. As you can imagine, this makes sense. If you bet on an expected outcome, you would expect to win less than if you were to bet on a very unexpected outcome.

If you were putting a bet on Manchester City Vs West Brom, it would be highly likely that Man City would be considered as the most likely team to win. Therefore, if you were to place a bet on Man City, it stands to reason that your winnings would be much lower than if you took a chance on the underdogs.

The Different Types of Odds

In general, depending on where you are and the online bookmaker you choose to use, they come in 3 different formats. The most commonly used in the UK is Fractional Odds; Decimal Odds are used mainly in Europe and Moneyline odds are popular in the US. It is likely that at some point, you will encounter all 3 types. Because of this, it is best to know about them all.


Fractional Odds

This is the most common format within the UK, although Decimal Odds are also becoming more widely used. These are possibly the trickiest out of the 3 different formats. However, when you get used to them, they aren’t as difficult as you might think.

As you may have guessed, these are displayed in a fraction format. So, you may have a bet that is 4/1 – which is a ‘four to one’ bet. Simply put, you can win four ‘units’ for every one ‘unit’ place – i.e. you win £4 for every £1 bet. As you can see, 1/1 would be an even bet, so for every £1 you bet, you would win £1.  It really isn’t that tricky at all.

When the second number is 1, it’s very simple. However, it starts getting a little tougher when you get odds such as 7/4, 12/11, 3/2 etc. The maths here is a little more difficult to work out. If you have odds of 7/4, you can win £7 for every £4 you bet. So, if you were to place a £1 bet, your winnings would be £7 divided by 4; this would give you a win of £1.75.

When the first number is bigger than the second number, this is an ‘odds against bet. These bets will give you a bigger potential profit than the amount you choose to bet. However, not all bets are ‘odds against’ bets.

If you have a bet of 1/3, this is said to be a ‘3 to one on’ bet. This means that for every £3 you bet, you stand to win £1. Obviously, these are given to the favourite and most expected outcomes in a sports event. There’s much more chance that these are successful, but you won’t win a great deal on them.

Calculating the Win

To calculate a win from your fractional odds:

A = the first number in the fraction

B = the second number in the fraction:

Profit of wager = stake x (A/B)

An Example

You have made a £10 bet at 3/2

£10 x (3/2) =

£10 x 1.5 = £15

Therefore your potential profit from this bet is £15. You would also get your £10 original stake returned so your total potential payout will be £25 in total.

Fractional Odds Chart

Here are some of the most common fractional odds and the expected payout with a £10 stake:

OddsTotal Potential ProfitTotal Potential Payout
1/1 (evens)£10£20


Decimal Odds

Decimal odds are becoming increasingly popular in the UK, and are most commonly used within Europe, Canada and Australia. This is quite possibly the most simple and straightforward way of representing the outcome.

The decimal number shows you how much the total potential payout will be (including your original stake) So, for example, you place a £1 bet on decimal odds of 2.40, you will get a total potential payout of £2.40 – so your win will be £1.40 and your return stake will be the additional £1. In this system, a bookmaker would express and even bet as 2.00

Moneyline Odds

Moneyline odds are most popular in the US. Bookies will display these as either a positive or negative number. If the numbers are positive, then this tells you how much a stake of £100 would win you. However, if it is a negative number, it tells you how much you need to bet to win £100.

So, an example of this:

You see moneyline odds of +170. You know that if you bet £100 on this, you would win £170 plus get your stake of £100 back. Your total potential payout would be £270.

If you see moneyline odds of -170 you know that you need to stake £170 in order to win £100. So your total potential payout is also £270, but this would include your higher stake of £170.

An even-money bet in this format would be denoted by +100.

Why do Odds Vary on the Same Outcome?

As you will notice when you start looking through different bookmakers, many offer different prices for the same bets. One bookmaker may give a football team  7/4 to win, whereas another might give 6/4. Why is this?

Well, these fractions represent the likelihood of an outcome as a bookmaker sees it. No one knows the exact likelihood of an outcome. There is no exact mathematical equation to work it out, so each bookmaker has a different opinion and this can result in differing offerings.

As well as this, there are other factors that can affect it. How much money a bookie has taken on an outcome can affect what it is offering and this can mean that they aren’t always a true representation of the likelihood of an outcome.

Because of this, you can make it work in your favour when making a bet. If you know enough to accurately predict the outcome of an event, if you research different bookmakers and what they are offering, you can start making a decent profit. If you can combine sports knowledge with sports betting knowledge you can certainly make some money.

Don’t forget to check out our How Sportsbetting Works guide…