Odds Betting Term Meaning

‘Odds’ are offered by bookmakers to bettors and refer to the likelihood of an event occurring. Depending on your personal preference, bookmakers offer odds in different formats such as fractional, decimal and American.

It would be impossible to place a bet without a bookmaker offering odds. In sports betting, the odds define the probability of a selection winning. For instance, you would be offered high odds if you were placing a bet on Yeovil Town winning the FA Cup as it’s extremely unlikely to happen. On the other hand, you would get far lower odds if you wanted to bet on Manchester United lifting the trophy as the Red Devil’s are usually among the tournament favourites.

How exactly do you calculate betting odds? The first thing you’ll need to consider is which format you’re using. Some punters prefer fractional odds whereas others prefer decimals. While most punters in the UK and Europe don’t use them, American odds are also offered by some bookmakers including bet365.

What are Fractional Odds?

Fractional betting odds were originally used for horse race betting, but because they’re easy to understand bookmakers in the UK and Ireland carried them over to most other major sports.

The number on the right-hand side (denominator) refers to the stake while the number on the left-hand side (numerator) refers to returns. Here’s an example of how it works:

Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund (German Bundesliga)

  • Bayern Munich win 1/2

  • Draw 15/4

  • Borussia Dortmund win 9/2

The bookies have made Bayern Munich odds on favourites to win this game. Based on the 1/2 odds, you need to wager two betting units to receive one betting unit back as winnings.

  • Bet £2. Win £1. Total returns £3.00

  • Bet £10. Win £5. Total returns £15.00

  • Bet £50. Win £25. Total returns £75.00

The same method applies to work out the returns for a draw and a Dortmund win. For instance, if you back Borussia Dortmund to win, some possible payouts would be:

  • Bet £1. Win £4.50. Total returns £5.50

  • Bet £2. Win £9.00. Total returns £11.00

  • Bet £5. Win £22.50. Total returns £27.50

  • Bet £10. Win £45.00. Total returns £55.00

What are Decimal Odds?

Decimal odds have been the favoured option for European punters for many years, and more recently this alternative has grown in popularity with UK bettors, too. Unlike fractional odds, European decimal odds combine the betting unit and win, so the odds you calculate are total returns. Let’s have a closer look at a horse racing example bet below.

Sedgefield Race 4

  • I’m To Blame @2.25

  • Brainstorm @4.00

  • Dans Le Vent @4.50

  • Bordeaux Bill @7.00

Once you’ve picked a horse, you calculate your potential return using the stake x decimal odds formula.

  • Brainstorm to win. Bet £5 x 4.00 = Total returns £20.00

  • Dans Le Vent to win. Bet £5 x 4.50 = Total returns £22.50

  • Bordeaux Bill to win. Bet £5 x 7.00 = Total returns £35.00

To emphasise the difference, these are a few common prices, converted into both formats. It should be noted, that South African bookmakers use decimal odds without the betting unit being added, so 1.25 would be shown as 0.25.

Decimal odds (EUR)

Fractional odds




1/1 (evens)