Odds Explained

Betting on sports is all about odds. The term odds is used in sports betting to describe the payout punters can earn on a successful bet. Odds are often referred to as prices, in reference to the value of a bet on a particular selection.

Odds are offered in three different formats, with the majority of sportsbooks allowing users to select the odds format they prefer. The default odds format will often depend on the country in which the bet is being made.

The three odds formats are:

  • Fractional Odds: Fractional odds is the default odds format offered by bookmakers in the United Kingdom and Ireland. These odds are represented as a fraction, and indicate the net payout earned relative to the amount staked. If a bet wins the initial stake is returned with the payout.

For example:

A punter bets £10 on Kauto Star winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup at odds of 1/2. If Kauto Star wins the race, the bet will pay out: 1/2 x 10 = 5. The initial stake is then added to this figure for a total payout of £15.

  • Decimal Odds: Decimal odds are also known as Continental Odds or European Odds, and are popular in Europe, Canada and Australia. These odds reflect the payout on a successful bet in decimal form, and factor in the return of the stake.

For example:

A punter bets £10 on Rafael Nadal winning the French Open at odds of 2. If Nadal claims the title the punter will be paid out: 2 x 10 = 10. The £20 payout reflects the fact that the punter has only earned £10 from the bet, as the stake was included in the payout.

It is important to keep in mind the fact that the payout is factored into decimal odds, otherwise punters may choose decimal odds over fractional odds in the mistaken belief that this will generate a bigger payout.

  • Moneyline Odds: Moneyline odds are used primarily in the United States, but are offered by most online sportsbooks. These odds reflect the payout on a successful $100 bet, with the return of the stake not included in this figure.

When bets play better than even, the odds will be prefixed by a plus, for example, +100. Bets paying less than even are prefixed by a minus, for example, -100, and describes how much would have to be bet to earn a £100 payout.

An example:

A punter bets £10 on England defeating South Africa in a test match at odds of +300. If England wins, the bet will pay out 300 x 10/100 = 30. The stake will then be returned for a total payout of £40.


A sportsbook offers odds of -400 on Italy beating Ireland in a Six Nations match. This means that a punter would need to bet £400 to earn $100 from the bet.

A £40 bet at this price would therefore pay out £10. The stake would then be added to this payout for a total return of £50.

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