However, the sooner you start the learning process the better; so, in this article, we’re going to learn about calculating odds, and how to decide when to place money (as well as how much).
Things you have to know when learning how to calculate odds
The first thing you need to know about betting odds is that they’re basically simple maths. In fact, most bookmakers and betting apps now provide their odds as “Decimal” numbers, which makes calculating odds simpler than it has ever been before; some bettors prefer to use the more traditional “Fractional” odds, as this is what they are used to. It’s worth knowing how to work with both, as you’ll see them in the process of learning the ropes. Here’s a quick guide to reading betting odds.
Being able to calculate odds will help you compare different bookmakers for the odds they offer on the same market. So, for example, if one bookmaker is offering “longer” odds for a bet you’re thinking of making than their competitors, it’s with the longer odds that you want to go. Once you know how to calculate odds, working this out becomes straightforward – and being able to work out your potential winnings at a glance will speed up the learning process.
How to calculate odds in betting: Decimal and fractional
Knowing the likelihood of a certain result is something that’s not unique to experienced bettors – many people who’ve never placed a bet can tell you the chances out of 10 that, say, Barcelona will beat Juventus. How are odds calculated in football? Bookmakers do exactly the same as us – they weigh up probabilities and make an educated prediction.
Betting odds are relatively simple to understand when you know the principles behind them. You’ll see decimal odds expressed as a decimal number – for example, 2.50 – and the higher the number the more money you stand a chance to win; higher numbers represent longer odds, which is another way of saying that the outcome you are betting on is less likely to happen.
Fractional odds, for their part, are expressed as fractions – such as 5/1. The most important number is the numerator (the figure before the “/” sign) because, as with decimal odds, the higher it is the more money you could win. The denominator (the number after the “/”) will usually be a 1, but not always. The lower it is, the better, as it represents the amount you need to bet to win the amount expressed as the numerator.
That last point reflects the other important factor in calculating odds – how much you win depends on the amount that you are prepared to bet. The more you are prepared to bet on an outcome, the more your potential return from that bet. It’s an example of the risk/reward balance; the more you are prepared to risk, the higher your reward may be.
We’ll give a more practical rundown of how odds work in a moment, so you can see these principles in action, but for now, given the above, you can see that decimal odds are simpler to calculate. For beginners, they will usually be the odds they choose to go with (don’t worry, any online bookmaker will offer the option to pick how your odds are displayed, but the default is usually decimal).
How it works: Decimal odds in a practical test
If you are looking to place a bet on a football tournament – let’s take the World Cup as an example – then your bookmaker will have odds available to help you decide whether to place that bet. They will be displayed, as mentioned above, in the form of a decimal number so, for example, you may see “Brazil 6.00, Germany 6.00, France 6.50”. This means that Brazil and Germany are equally likely to win, in the eyes of the bookmakers. France are a little less likely, but still have a good chance. Meanwhile, Nigeria are listed as “251.00”; they’re distant outsiders.
- If you place a bet of £1 on France, and they win, you will win £6.50.
- If that bet is £2, you would win £13.
- If you placed that £2 on Nigeria, and they won, then your winnings would be £502.
- You calculate winnings by multiplying your stake (the amount you put on the outcome) by the odds offered for the team to win.
- Knowing how to calculate odds ratio in this way will help you judge whether your bet is one worth making. It’s even easier in practice, as online bookies will calculate odds and winnings for you when you place your bet, so there’s no need to do the maths yourself.
One thing to remember about decimal odds is that they include your stake in the price, so your £6.50 won on France includes the £1 you placed.
Other options to decimal odds
Fractional odds are the traditional way to calculate odds probability; although you’re more likely to see decimal odds the first time you bet, you’re more likely to hear people talk about — for example — “Leicester City’s remarkable 5,000/1 league win”. While decimal odds have the advantage of simplicity, fractional odds are more familiar; and they aren’t impossible to calculate, either. As an example, let’s compare the decimal odds in the above example to their fractional equivalent.
The same bookmaker offering odds for the World Cup, in fractional, would list Brazil and Germany as 5/1 and France as 11/2. Nigeria, as outsiders, would be 250/1. You may have noticed that the numbers in these examples, aside from being fractions, are different from the decimal ones. This is because your stake is only considered lost if your bet loses; with decimal odds, as you’ll remember, it’s counted in your winnings. A £2 bet on France would win you £11, but you’d also get your £2 stake back – so it’s exactly the same as if you bet with decimal probability odds.
Best bookmakers for variety of odds
Max. Wert Bonus Type
Get the Bonus 1 98 / 100 25 Claim your £25 bonus with bonus code OPENODDSNew customers only. 18+. T&C’s Apply. begambleaware.org Novibet bonus 18+. KYC Verified. UK new customers only. Max £25 free bet, Min of 3 selections in acca | Min odds per selection 7/10 | Free bet stake not returned | Certain markets/sports/payment methods restrictions apply | Free bet valid for 30 days. 2 97 / 100 30 79.5New customers only. 18+. T&C’s Apply. begambleaware.org STSbet bonus 18+. New depositing players on STSbets.co.uk only. Promotion from 11/02/2020 until further notice. First deposit min. £10. Qualifying bet: min. £10 accumulator bet with at least two selections with min odds of 1/2 (1.50) per selection. Bonus: 50% of the amount of the first bet. Max bonus £40. Min 6x wagering with bonus on min odds of 1/2 (1.50) before withdrawal. Deposit method restrictions. Bonus valid for 7 days. Full T&cs apply. BeGambleAware.org. 3 96 / 100 30 £30 FreebetNew customers only. 18+. T&C’s Apply. begambleaware.org Betway bonus New UK & Ireland customers only. Min Deposit: £10. First deposit matched up to £30. 1 x wagering at odds of 1.75+ to unlock Free Bet. Debit Card & PayPal deposits only. This offer is valid for 7 days from your new account being registered. Terms apply 4 92 / 100 30 Bet £10 get £30 free!New customers only. 18+. T&C’s Apply. begambleaware.org William-Hill bonus New customers using Promo Code P30 only, min £10/€10 stake, min odds 1/2, free bets paid as 2 x £15/€15 (30 days expiry), free bet/payment method/player/country restrictions apply. *By entering the Promo code in the box above you agree to the full terms and conditions of this promotion as displayed below. 5 87 / 100 100 £100 in bet creditsNew customers only. 18+. T&C’s Apply. begambleaware.org Bet365 bonus New Customers only. Up to £100 in Bet Credits. Sign up, deposit £5 or more to your account and bet365 will match your qualifying deposit in Bet Credits when you place qualifying bets to the same value and they are settled. Min odds/bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. T&Cs, time limits & exclusions apply. 6 86 / 100 30 Bet £10 Get £30New customers only. 18+. T&C’s Apply. begambleaware.org 888 bonus New customers only • Max Bet €5 • €10 deposit using promo code • Free bets are granted within 72 hours and expires after 7 days • Free bet stakes not included in returns • Deposit balance is available for withdrawal at any time. withdrawal restrictions & full T&C’s apply. 7 82 / 100 10 £10New customers only. 18+. T&C’s Apply. begambleaware.org Grosvenor bonus 8 80 / 100 £30 Stake £10 get £20 in free betsNew customers only. 18+. T&C’s Apply. begambleaware.org Betfred bonus 9 75 / 100 30 £30 in Free BetsNew customers only. 18+. T&C’s Apply. begambleaware.org PaddyPower bonus New customer offer. Place a single £10 (or £5 e/w) Sports bet in the 13:45 York on Friday, 21st of August and get a £5 free bet for each of the subsequent race. Deposits using Credit/Debit cards or Apple Pay only. Free bets are only valid for the specified race and are awarded when the qualifying bet has been settled. Free bet stakes not returned with winnings. T&Cs apply. 10 74 / 100 £10 Up to £10 on first depositNew customers only. 18+. T&C’s Apply. begambleaware.org Smarkets bonus 1. Once the bonus is credited to your account, losses will be refunded up to the bonus amount. 2. You must deposit at least the qualifying deposit of £20 (or currency equivalent) in a single amount with your first deposit to be eligible for the rebate. 3. To withdraw rebated funds, you must bet at least the qualifying deposit on any combination of markets within the promotional period; otherwise rebated funds will be forfeited. 4. Unused bonuses expire after seven days of being credited to a user account and will be removed after this period. 5. Users making their first deposit by Skrill, Neteller, PayPal or a virtual/prepaid card will not qualify for this promotion. 6. The sign up offer is strictly limited to one per individual, family, household address, email address, same payment account number, and shared computer. 7. This promotion cannot be used in conjunction with any other sign-up promotion. 8. Smarkets standard terms for promotions apply. 11 74 / 100 10 £30 insuranceNew customers only. 18+. T&C’s Apply. begambleaware.org Genting-Bet bonus 18+ New Customers. Qualifying bet is first settled bet £/€10.00+ (£/€10 E/W) at odds 2.0+ placed within 28 days of registration. If bet loses, free bet equal to your qualifying stake (max £40) credited, use within 7 days, Stake not returned. Multiples require each selection odds of 1.4+. Full T&Cs Apply. 12 72 / 100 30 Get £30 in bonuses!New customers only. 18+. T&C’s Apply. begambleaware.org BetVictor bonus New Customers only. Deposit and place a £5 qualifying bet at odds of 2.00 or greater within 7 days of opening a new account; excludes cashed out bets. Receive 2x £10 Sports/Virtual Sports Free Bets, valid on set events only at odds 2.00 or greater, expires in 7 days, plus a £10 Casino Bonus, expires in 7 days. Wager the Casino Bonus 35x to withdraw winnings. Payment Cards only. Geographical Restrictions and T&Cs Apply. 13 60 / 100 100 100New customers only. 18+. T&C’s Apply. begambleaware.org Paddy-Power bonus
Why it’s important to know how to calculate odds in betting
It’s important to be able to calculate these odds for yourself, because they let you see at a glance which bookmaker to place your bet with. If you’re looking at two or more potential bookmakers, you want to go with the one who will offer you the best possible return on the bet you place. Sometimes, this will mean checking out an online odds comparison site, or you may read about the odds offline in an article.
In the former case, when checking online, the odds are likely to be listed as decimal, whereas offline fractional is still more usual. If you have seen both decimal and fractional odds quoted and are not sure how to calculate odds of winning, you could end up losing out on a better value bet. If you’re comparing between two different bookmakers who offer fractional – for example, you’re in a city centre and want to pick a betting shop to place your wager – it’s also important to know how to calculate betting odds. You always want to be able to maximise your winnings. If you don’t know how to calculate odds winnings to the value of hundreds can easily be lost.
A sound principle to work by is that if you’re researching the odds by going to bookmakers’ sites for yourself, stick to decimal as much as possible. That said, if you want to be able to maximise your chances of making money from betting, you should make the effort to learn fractional so as to have all bases covered. For an easy option, use a betting odds calculator to help you work out how much you can win.
The importance of simplicity is obvious to the novice bettor – while more experienced punters can talk about Asian Handicap and Trixie betting like true natives, you’ll need a gentler introduction to calculating odds and placing bets. Some of the best bookmakers for rookies to try their luck are as follows.
Option 1: Grosvenor Sports
Particularly popular with football fans, Grosvenor Sports started out as an online casino operator and are most popular for their generous bonus structure. As an insight into these bonuses, ask yourself how are odds calculated in sports? Well, in Grosvenor’s case, when you sign up they’ll calculate those odds and then double them for your initial bet – meaning you can turn a promising 10/1 bet into a very attractive 20/1. That’s incredible value and potentially very lucrative.
Their site is also highly mobile-responsive and user-friendly; wherever you happen to be, as long as you can get an internet connection you can take advantage of any promising tips you happen to hear or read about. It even lets you carry out your own research, by providing a handy stats rundown on teams, results and – if you’re looking to bet on a specific match – info on the previous meetings between the teams or players involved.
Option 2: Betway
Betway have steadily gained a reputation over more than a decade as one of the most customer-friendly sites for sports betting. Much of this is down to their extremely responsive customer services which are accessible 24 hours a day in a number of languages. They’re also highly popular because their website is extremely easy to use. They know how to calculate betting odds, with prices that aren’t wildly generous nor excessively short, and with their regular Enhanced Odds promotions, you can find some excellent value.
Among other advantages for bettors using Betway, they offer a very wide range of events to bet on – they are among the market leaders in this respect – though a rare drawback is that they don’t have a live streaming service as some others do. This means you’ll need to find another way of following an event once you have money on it, though their in-play options do mean that if you want to cash out early it’s very easy to do so.
Calculating odds a key attribute for any bettor
Being able to calculate betting odds and compare them at a glance – including on those occasions when you see them in different forms – will make you a more intuitive bettor who can find the value in markets wherever you see them. Although it can seem like an information overload at first, once you’ve run through it a few times you’ll find it’s pretty much second nature to perform the maths in your head.
When you put an ability to calculate odds together with an instinctive knowledge of sport, you’ve got two of the most powerful tools a bettor could want – and a pathway to greater enjoyment.