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Betting Odds Explained

Published on September 22, 2014 by Darren @ Betting Gods

The first skill any gambler should master is how to read betting odds.

Different bookmakers use different types of odds and American sports have their own way of doing writings as well.
The most common types of odds in use are decimal odds, fractional odds and American odds. We will cover all of these below.

The most common version of odds currently in use is decimal odds (also known as European odds). This expresses the amount of money that will be returned to the bettor on a one unit or one point stake. Different bookmakers can use different values for one unit so it is important to ascertain the value of a unit before placing a bet. As an example of how to read betting odds with a decimal odds system, if Chelsea is favoured to win at 1.60 then a £100 bet will give back a £160 payout if they win.

Decimal odds are the easiest to use of the three systems. UK bookmakers however also like to express odds using fractional odds. While decimal odds tell the better the total value that will be returned on a one stake bet, fractional odds tell how much profit will be returned per one stake bet. To use the same example as before for reading odds in the fractional system, the same £100 bet on Chelsea would be displayed as 3/5 for Chelsea, effectively £3 profit for every £5 staked, and so from your £100 bet you will receive £60 profit.

Lastly, a bettor who wishes to play both sides of the game will need to have an understanding of American odds which are also known as money lines. Money lines can be written as positive or negative, e.g. +300 or -250. When written as a positive indicator it tells you how much will be won on a £100 stake. Using the previous Chelsea example, it would be written as a +60. Negative indicators show how much you need as a stake to win £100 so for the same example it would be approximately -167.

In order to maximise your chance of winning when placing bets you need to make sure you understand the odds. You need to be skilled at reading them so that you don’t make any errors in judgement. Speed of assessing them is also important as you need to be able to place your bets before the dynamic odds change. One of the reasons that odds are presented numerically is that bookmakers have a lot of information to display on a limited space so they expect bettors to understand the manner in which the odds are displayed.

This is intended as a brief overview of the three main odds types, but if there’s anything you’d like more information about please add a comment below and I’ll get straight back to you.

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