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Betting odds are a fundamental part of gambling at casinos and bookmakers in the United Kingdom. As simple as they may sound, odds determine wins, losses and even the extent of your pay-outs. So, you definitely don’t want to dabble into any betting activity without fully understanding how these odds work.

While they may firstly appear as a complex set of numbers attached to wagers, betting odds are surprisingly very easy to understand. Here’s a detailed analysis of betting odds, how they affect your stakes and the common types you’ll come across in the UK.

Betting odds in the UK

What are Betting Odds?

Simply put, betting odds are numbers that represent the chances of an event or set of occurrences taking place. In addition, through betting odds, bookies and casinos determine how much they will pay if you make a correct prediction. These indicators are used across a wide range of gambling activity in the UK, ranging from horse racing to sports betting, casino games and even politics.

Bookies usually calculate odds by compiling current information and past records of the subject that players are to place bets on. Afterwards, the probability of different outcomes or events is processed through mathematical models. In turn, you have fractions that represent possible results, after which bookies attach real money value to these odds and publish them.

Generally, very likely events usually have low odds attached to them while more unlikely results have higher odds. This way, the casino or bookie tries to balance the influx of bets and maintain a viable profit margin.

For instance, if horse X is stronger and faster than all other horses in a race, it may have an 80% chance of winning. In turn, most players would wager on horse X to win. That’s why the bookmaker would make the odds on horse X lower to avoid having to pay large returns to a lot of punters.

The Role of Probability in Betting Odds

Betting odds and probability are two closely related ideas in the gambling industry. Particularly, bookies mostly use probability to decide their odds. A common example is rolling a dice with six sides. The probability of landing a “four” after a throw is one side from six possible sides. As odds, this value will be expressed as 5/1.

However, there are remarkable practical differences between betting odds and probability as far as bets are concerned. While probability simply tells us the chances of an event happening, odds are used to calculate your returns if you play a winning prediction.

One of the most notable distinctions between both concepts occurs when there is a 50% chance. In such cases, the probability of either event occurring is even. However, the odds will not always represent this reality as bookies will always want to protect their profit margin. So, instead of odds like 10/10, you’ll instead have 11/10 to tilt the stakes of punters.

Also, in cases where there is an implied bias with bettors, bookies will not always use the probability of events to create odds. For instance, where a sizable percentage of a city supports a football club, bookies may discard with probability and make the odds of such football club lower.

Types of Betting Odds Used in the UK

Betting odds are not exactly uniform across betting apps and casinos. Not only do many platforms adopt different methods to calculate their odds, but the type of betting odds in use may also differ. In the UK, fractional odds are the most popular template, but with the increase of international bookies, we also have a handful of instances where decimal odds and money line odds are applied.

Fractional Odds

This type of betting odds is the oldest form known to most punters. As the name implies, the odds are set forth as numerical fractions. For instance, you can have 99/1, 3/5 and similar values attached to wagers.

Fractional odds

The first value stands for how much you will win, in addition to your original stake. On the flip side, the second value is the amount you bet. So, a 11/4 betting odd means you can win £11 if you place a bet of £2. You can calculate probability from fractional odds by dividing the number on the right hand by the sum of both the first and second numbers. On a bet of 1/7, the probability is 7/(1+7) which is 0.875 or 87.5%.

Decimal Odds

Mostly used by European bookies and betting exchanges, decimal odds are simply fractional odds converted to decimals.

Decimal odds

This type of betting odd describes what your entire returns from a wager of one unit of currency. In essence, your original stake is included in the calculation of winnings from decimal odds. As a case in point, 5.00 odds with a £5 will return £25, including your stake while 1.7 odds with a £10 will return a total of £17.

Money Line (American) Odds

Also known as American odds, these money line odds are typically adopted in the US. They usually appear as numbers preceded by a positive (+) or negative (-) sign. Where there is a negative sign, the odds imply the amount you should bet to stand a chance of winning £100. On the other hand, a positive symbol is indicative of the amount you’ll win for every £100 you stake. Positive money lines are issued for underdogs while negatives show that such team is favourites to win.

American odds

Assume in a game between England and Northern Ireland, the latter has +640 odds while England has -800 odds. This means that Northern Ireland has a lower winning probability and bettors will place £100 on the team to win £640. In the case of a win, you’ll get a total of £740, including both your initial stake and the win value.

However, betting on England means you’ll have to stake £800 to win £100. Should England win the game, you’ll walk away with a total of £900.

Final Thoughts on How Betting Odds Work in the UK

Whether you’re a rookie or a pro bettor, you’ll always come across betting odds in your gambling adventures. In this article, we’ve outlined the different types of odds, ranging from fractional to money line odds. Knowing how to navigate bets will ensure you place informed wagers and get the best value on your stakes.

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