The Complete Guide to Betting Odds

Horse racing is a lot of fun and millions of people all over the world enjoy this sport every single day. Years ago you had to be physically present on track or in a betting shop to be able to have a bet. Even so, you could still enjoy the thrill of watching horse racing at home when race meetings were being televised. However, it is the act of betting on horses that really injects the thrill.

Even if you have as little as £1 on a horse to win, suddenly the race begins to take on a whole different meaning. In this guide on betting odds, we will discuss what the odds are, what they mean and the importance of them in a betting sense.

Odds are the Language of Horse Betting. Getting Poor odds is akin to Getting Poor Value When you pay for a Product in a Shop. Good Bettors Constantly Look for the Best Value

So without further ado, let us begin to go down the rabbit hole so to speak by looking at betting odds which to the outsider can seem confusing. There is one very good reason why betting odds seem confusing, this is because there are two types of odds.

Fractional Odds are Part of History

Fractional odds were the very first odds system used in horse race betting going back to the 1700's. They are more cumbersome than decimal odds but fractional odds are what we have been brought up with. They are part of horse racing history and are still in mainline use today. You will no doubt have seen odds in the form of say 2-1 or 7-2. These are fractional odds.

The 2-1 is basically self- explanatory but it is amazing just how many novice bettors get confused by odds like 15-8, 7-4, 100-30, 11-8 and so on. The process to work this out is simple. We already know that odds of 2-1 simply mean taking the first number which is 2 and then dividing it by the second number which is 1. In this example, the first number divided by the second number still gives us a total of two hence the odds of 2-1.

People get confused by complex odds but we are still doing the same thing. That is to divide the first figure by the second.

So 15-8 is fifteen divided by eight which is 1.875. So 15-8 is in fact 1.875-1 or just under 2-1. We can do the same with 100-30 which is 100 divided by 30 which is 3.33 and so 3.33-1.

In Fractional Odds, When the First Figure is higher than the Second Figure; this is referred to as Odds Against. When it is the other way around, it is Called "odds on"

The Decimal Odds Betting System

You may have gone onto a betting site and seen odds of 3.0 and you may have thought this meant 3-1. Many people think this or they become confused by this betting terminology. In 2017, more and more online betting sites are switching to decimal odds. In many ways, they are a much simpler way of seeing the odds. No more do you need to divide one figure by the other like with some of the more complex fractional odds.

Decimal odds will be shown like 3.00, 4.50, 2.75 and so on. There is only one thing to remember with decimal odds and it is this. The figure shown is the sum total of what you will return. This is different to what the actual odds are, let us explain. In fractional odds of say 2-1, if you place a £10 bet then you will win £20 but you will return £30 as you will also get your £10 stake back.

All winning bets return stake and it is the same with decimal odds. So if you see odds of say 3.0 then if you bet £10 then you will return £30 but only £20 of that are actual winnings, the other £10 is your stake. So now we can see that odds of 2-1 in fractional odds and 3.0 in decimal odds are in fact the same thing.

Putting it all to Work

Here are a few examples to highlight what we have been talking about. Assume that you are making as series of £10 bets at various odds and we will see what the payout it.

  • ODDS 7-2 Fractional PAYOUT £35 + £10 STAKE BACK

  • DDS 6.5 Decimal PAYOUT £65

  • ODDS 6-4 Fractional PAYOUT £15 + £10 STAKE BACK

  • ODDS 2.8 Decimal PAYOUT £28

So we can see that decimal odds show you the sum total of what you will return which includes your stake in with the total figure. Decimal odds show what you win but in both cases, you still return your stake.

What Type of Bets Can you Make?

There are numerous different bet types in horse racing. For example, there is no rule that says that you can't bet on more than one horse. In fact, if you wanted to then you could back every single horse in the race although why would you want to? In short, then there are three main bets that you can place in horse racing although the variables within these three types are wide.

jockey racing horse

A win bet is simply as the name implies, this is a bet on a horse to win. It usually means that you have placed a bet on this one horse and this horse isn’t part of an accumulator. Professionals tend to only make win bets and place bets. If you back a horse to win and it comes second by a nose then unlucky, you lose!

If you think that your horse may get into contention but that there are other good horses in the race then you can make an each way bet. This is where you place two bets. One bet is for your horse to win and the second bet is for your horse to come second or third. You are still betting that your horse wins, but the extra bet is insurance for if it doesn't win and comes close to winning.

If your horse comes outside the top two or three (varies depending on field size) then you lose both the bet portion and the each way portion of the bet. If the horse wins you win both the win bet and the each way bet. If it places you lose the win bet but win the each way bet. One final type of bet is the accumulator! As the name implies you bet on a series of horses to win their races.

  • Win Bets

  • Each Way Bets

  • Accumulator Bets

A six horse accumulator would see you needing to pick the winner of six races on the trot. It’s a long shot but for very small stakes you can win life-changing sums of money. People have won payouts of a million pound or more from a pound stake or less in some cases using accumulator bets