Odds Explained

Odds

There are a couple of systems that are in use. Traditionally in the UK, the odds are quoted by the bookmakers as fractions. However, there are moves to make bookmakers quote odds as decimals since it is believed that it will make it easier for punters to understand their winnings.

The other thing about odds is that they are not fixed. They will change as the chances of winning the race by a particular horse are not the only factors that they take into account in their calculations. For example, a key consideration is the volume of bets for a particular horse and the risks associated with that.

Say for example, a particular horse is not thought likely to win; the bookies will therefore give it long odds to reflect this. However, say now that a large number of people start to bet on it. There comes a point when the risk that the bookie may have to pay out becomes too high and so they will shorten the odds. The risk can come from a number of factors, be it that the punters know something they don’t, the mafia have doped it to the eyeballs with go juice, or even just that the risk to the bookies’ bank account should the horse and jockey combination actually pull off the impossible and win. Either way, the result is the same.

Certainly, until you get used to the system, you will need to keep you head about you when you are making a bet. There are 3 possibilities; Odds on, Even Money and Odds Against. In all cases, if you lose, you get nothing; should you win, you will get at least the amount that you bet back – the difference arises in the amounts that you will receive in addition to this.

Odds On

When your horse is considered likely to win and the bookmakers calculate the chances of winning to be greater than 50%, the odds that will be quoted are known as “Odds on”. In this scenario, should your horse win, you will get your stake back, plus an additional amount equal to your stake multiplied by the fraction quoted. Clear as mud? Here’s an example

Win

Lose

Amount originally bet & paid to bookie

£100

£100

Odds quoted

3/10

3/10

Original stake paid back to you

£100

£-

Additional payout for win

£100 x 3/10 = £30

£-

Net Result in your pocket

£30

-£100

One last point to note is that sometimes the fractions quoted can seem a little strange. This is due to having to express the percentage chance of winning as a fraction, rather than using a decimal number. This means that you can get odds of 4/7 or similar, so if you want to know what you might be winning – better brush up on your mental arithmetic or bring a calculator!

This is one of the arguments for moving towards quoting odds as decimals (see below).

Even Money

This is when the bookies believe that the chance of this particular horse winning is 50/50, hence the reference to Even Money or “Evens”. In this scenario, if your horse wins, you would get back your stake, plus a matching amount for the win.

Example

Win

Lose

Amount originally bet & paid to bookie

£100

£100

Original stake paid back to you

£100

£-

Additional payout for win

£100

£-

Net Result in your pocket

£100

-£100

Odds Against

When the bookies don’t rate your horse’s chances of winning, they will likely give odds that are less than 50%. The rule for calculating your winnings is the same as for Odds On – should you win, you will get your original stake back, plus an additional amount equal to your stake multiplied by the fraction quoted.

Win

Lose

Amount originally bet & paid to bookie

£100

£100

Odds quoted

3/1

3/1

Original stake paid back to you

£100

£-

Additional payout for win

£100 x 3/1 = £300

£-

Net Result in your pocket

£300

-£100

Decimal Odds

This system is favoured by the Europeans and may be imposed in the UK by the European Union. Rather than quoting fractions, a single decimal number is used to multiply the stake by in order to calculate your total return after the race. The difference here is that your original stake is included in the number quoted as the odds.

Fraction

Decimal

Stake

Return = fraction as decimals

Stake + Return = Total

3/10

1.0

0.3

1.3

Evens

1.0

1.0

2

7/4

1.0

1.75

2.75

This makes the business of understanding your bet a little easier, but only if you have a calculator to hand. Mental arithmetic is a lot easier with the fraction versions.

American Odds

There is yet another system of odds for those of you that like to bet in America. This format is different in that it revolves around a hypothetical $100 and you will see two types of odds quoted; positive and negative.

Positive odds show you how much profit you will receive, should you place the hypothetical $100 bet. For example, if you see odds of +500, you will on winning, get your stake of $100 back +$500 for winning (equivalent in UK odds to 5/1 or decimal odds of 6.0).

Negative odds are subtly different. These describe how much you will need to bet in order to win a hypothetical $100. So, for example, odds of -160 means that in order to get your stake back, plus $100 profit, you will need to bet $160 (equivalent to 3/5 in the fractional system or 1.6 in decimal).

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