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What are fractional and decimal odds?

On-course bookies use fractional odds.

An easy guide to understanding fractional and decimal odds

Most bookmaker websites give customers the option to choose between fractional and decimal odds. In short, fractional odds could be 5/1, 13/2 or 10/1, while decimal odds could be 3.00, 4.33 or 11.00.

Fractional odds
This is very much the old-fashioned way of bookmaker pricing although it’s more common than decimal in the UK and Ireland where the betting industry goes back a long way.

If you back a horse at 5/1 and it wins a particular race, you will make a profit of £5 for every £1 you stake on this selection. You will also get your stake money back as part of the returns (so in this example, you will stake £1 and get £6 back).

You might back a player to score the first goal in a football match at odds of 15/2. Once again, the same principle applies in that you make £15 for every £2 staked (or alternatively, £7.50 for every £1 staked). 

When it comes to placing a double or multiple bet using fractional odds, you will generally find that a bookmaker bet slip will automatically calculate the potential winnings available should your bet win. 

However, as an example, if you place a £1 double on a 4/1 and 6/1 selection, this is how your winnings are calculated.

  • £1 on the 4/1 selection would return £5 including stake.
  • The £5 is then placed on the 6/1 selection and this would return £35 including stake.

So you are essentially getting a 34/1 shot for your £1 stake.

Decimal odds
With decimal odds, your potential returns are exactly the same as with fractional odds. It’s just a different way of expressing the prices. 

Decimal odds are more commonly used by European and Australian customers, although all self-respecting bookies decimal as well as fractional odds. Many find the former a lot easier to understand as the stake is included as part of the odds.

So if a horse is 5/1 in fractional odds, then it will be 6.00 in decimal odds. This is because the stake is factored into the price which shows you the potential return more clearly.

Instead of 100/30 in fractional odds, you would get 4.33 in decimal terms. Decimal prices are especially useful when it comes to comparing various bookmaker odds as you can simply look for the biggest figure rather than working out which is bigger out of 12/5, 9/4 or 100/3. 

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What are fractional and decimal odds?

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