A Guide to the Odds Format in the UK

A Guide to the Odds Format in the UK
  • Fractional odds
  • Decimal odds
  • American odds (moneyline)

If you are planning on getting anywhere in the sports betting world, then understanding odds, how they are formatted and what they mean is the very first step you should be taking. In fact, if you think about it, there’s no betting without odds and vice versa. Let’s start with what exactly are odds. They are just a mathematical presentation of the return you can expect when betting on a specific event whether it is written down or presented in a different format entirely. Different countries and parts of the world show odds differently, which can also be confusing.

Happily though, most online betting sites have an option for switching between formats so that you can use a system that you are familiar with. Depending on the site though, you may find that they only offer a single odds format. So, for those that are new to this whole system, we are going to take a look at the different ways that odds are expressed with a focus on the way they are shown and formatted in the UK. Keep reading to discover all you need to know about betting, odds and top sports in the UK.

Fractional Odds

The most common UK odds format is fractional odds. These are considered the original method of formatting and one that pretty much all bookies, both on and offline, will unfailingly use in the UK. Fractional odds are shown in this manner: 1/1 (even bet), 10/1, 1/2 or 5/2. The left-hand number in the fraction is the numerator and the one on the right is the denominator. Numerators indicate the profit that you’ll make from the bet if you are placing a bet that is equal to the denominator. So, for instance, with odds of 1/2, a £2 bet will yield £3 meaning a profit of £1.

When the number on the right (the denominator) is greater than the numerator, this is considered to be an odds on bet. It can also be written as “2/1 on” but is the same thing as a 1/2 bet. Here are some further examples of how they work: taking the 5/1 odds, if you were to place £10 and win, you would get £60 back, with a decent £50 in profit. Essentially, the larger the number the numerator is when compared to the denominator, the larger your expected profit. But it does mean that whoever you are betting on has a lower chance of success.

Popular Sports in the UK

In the UK there are a number of different popular sports that are bet on fairly regularly (these are listed below). Each of these different sports has a variety of betting options. Football is the most popular sport in this country, so it will come as no surprise that the largest number of options are attached to this game. On average 7.9 million viewers tune into a match and with so many championships, games, and tournaments, there’s always something to bet on. Tennis is a close second, particularly when Wimbledon rolls around and punters are all about placing a bet on specific players.

  • Football
  • Horse racing
  • Greyhound racing
  • Tennis
  • Rugby Union

Some Quirks of Fractional Odds

You may be wondering why fractional odds are a little strange. Well, they were actually created in the 16th Century – Shakespeare has the earliest written references to the use of this formatting system! Fractional odds have many weird little quirks. For example, they’re often expressed ‘to eight’. You’ll often see fractional bets such as 15/8 or 12/8 around, particularly on horse racing. It’s also quite common to see a bet not rounded down to the lowest denominator possible. Instead, you’ll get bets such as 100/30 or 6/4 which could just as easily have been written as 10/3 or 3/2. But this is all down to history.

Calculating Probability

If you’re really going to get to grips with it all, it’s a good idea to understand how you can calculate probability from betting odds. Odds are there to give you an indication of how likely an event is to happen. It’s something you can discern simply by dint of understanding what the odds mean (which you should do by now!). However, it’s possible to calculate further. Probability from fractional odds is done by dividing the right side number with the total of both numbers. So a 9/1 odds would be 1 divided by 10 which equals 0.10, so a 10% chance of the event occurring. Simple really!

Getting the Best Odds

Now that you’ve got all that sorted, it’s time you actually headed out there and started placing some bets. You should already know which of the sports and specific events you are planning to place a wager on. Similarly, you should know what type of bet you want to make. Finding the best odds is a simple matter of then checking out the bookies and comparing them. Most of the time they’ll be highly competitive, there won’t be much difference between them. So, pick a bookie that offers a good bonus, is safe and secure and offers a wider range of betting options.

Final Thoughts on Fractional Odds

So there you have it! It’s quite simple really when you know. Fractional odds are rooted in UK history. Aside from the fact that there are a few weird quirks, they are actually quite easy to master. It’s also a simple matter of creating the probability of the event occurring that will help you understand in greater detail which odds to choose and what player or team to put a wager on. If things are still a little unclear, give it a whirl, it will become a lot clearer once you give online sports betting a go for yourself.

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Author: Josh Slaiter
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