Understanding the online betting odds

Traditionally bookmakers such as Blue Square have always used fractional odds, but following the growth of online betting exchanges such as Betfair there has been a shift to the use of decimal odds.

Quick odds conversion chart

There is one key difference – decimal odds include your stake, fractional odds do not. Perhaps this is best explained with an example:

You fancy England to beat France in an International football match. At the bookies in town the odds in the window are 5/4. You get home and look at the online betting prices, and find a website showing odds of 2.4. Help! You want to bet £100 that England will win the match, but where is it best to place your bet?

On the high street, lets take the fractional odds first.

5/4 = 1.25

As mentioned above, this does not include your stake. So if your bet is a winner, this amount is multiplied by your stake and is the profit you will receive.

£100 * 1.25 = £125 profit.

When you go to the bookmaker to collect your winnings it will be the original stake (£100) and the profit (£125). You get a total of £225 back.

Now onto the world of online betting, lets look at decimal odds.

The odds for the online bet are 2.4.

£100 * 2.4 = £240

This time the stake is included already, and you can quickly see that the total return is better than that offered by the bookmaker in town. Again you have staked the £100, so to work out the profit on the bet you simply take it off. £240 – £100 = £140.

For most people, the choice between fractional or decimal odds is a simply a matter of personal preference. If you aren’t sure, practise working with both and you will soon decide what suits you best.

The final part of this introductory section illustrates how to quickly compare fractional and decimal odds, whatever they may be.

The obvious way to do this is to convert fractional odds into decimal odds, doing it this way round gives you two values and you simply pick the biggest! You will find this extremely helpful when you enter the world of online betting!

To convert from fractional odds, simply divide the top value by the bottom, and add 1.

Following on from the example earlier, we used fractional odds of 5/4.

5/4 (5 divided by 4) = 1.25

1.25 + 1 = 2.25

Now it is obvious why the online bookmaker odds of 2.4 were better!

Lets try a new example:

You look in the bookies window and see fractional odds of 12/5, lets do the calculation to see what they would be as decimal odds:

12/5 = 2.4

2.4 + 1 = 3.4

So fractional odds of 12/5 are identical to decimal odds of 3.4.

Quick odds conversion chart