An Overview of Sports Betting Odds Formats


Understanding sports betting odds formats is the crucial first step to ensuring you get value for money when you bet.

Decimals vs Fractions

Most UK gambling sites present their odds as decimals or fractions. Both represent the proportion of your original stake returned after a successful bet, though decimal odds include your original stake while fractions do not.

  • Decimal Odds. Represent the percentage payout on your original stake. For example, if you bet £10 at 1.2, you would receive £12 back, i.e. 120% of your stake.
  • Fractional Odds. Represent potential winnings as a fraction of your stake, which is added to the stake in the payout. For example, betting £10 at 1/2 would return £15, i.e. winnings of 1/2 of £10, plus the £10 stake. Long odds are just top-heavy fractions, so a £10 bet at 5/1 would return £60, i.e. five times the bet, plus the £10 stake.

American vs European Formats

American sportsbook providers present their odds in a different way, known as 'money-line odds'. Sometimes, European bookies will use this format for American sports.

In 'money-line odds', a negative figure represents the amount a player needs to wager to earn £100. A positive figure represents the amount a player wins from a £100 bet. So odds of -200 means that a £10 bet would return £15, i.e. (100/200) x 10, plus the £10 stake. Odds of +200 mean a £10 bet would return £30, i.e.(200/100) x 10, plus the original £10 stake.

1x2 vs Asian Handicaps

In a 'match winner market', there are generally three outcomes: win, lose or draw. A '1x2 Bet' allows you to bet on each of these outcomes at odds expressed as one of the formats listed above.

Asian handicaps use an odds calculation based on form to eliminate the option of a draw, so you only back a winner by a set margin. In football, bookies pick a goal handicap they believe will make the probability of victory as close to 50% (1/1 or 2.0) as possible; the odds will be expressed in a decimal format that excludes the original stake.

For example, for Tottenham vs Partizan Belgrade in November 2014, Tottenham were rated 2.000 at -1.5, -2, which assumes Tottenham are two goals better than Belgrade. A £10 bet on Tottenham to win by two or more goals would return £20, being 200% of £10. Remember, these decimal odds exclude the original stake.

You can usually spot Asian handicap odds because they run to three decimal places, unlike normal decimal odds that rarely have over two.

Over / Under

Generally used in statistical markets like 'goals per game' or 'total corners', 'over/under' bets sometimes offer three outcomes like 1x2 (the total being over a figure, under that figure or exactly that figure); it can also be presented with two outcomes (over or under).

For example, for Tottenham vs Belgrade, over 2.5 goals (3 or more) was rated at 4/7, under 2.5 (2 or less) at 27/20. At half time in the November 2014 match between Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund, Bet365 Sports offered 5/6 on over 10 corners, 5/6 on under 10 corners and 11/4 on exactly 10 corners.

There's no draw for this bet, so it always offers a 50% chance of winning.

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