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Fixed odds are the odds offered by a bookmaker on an event at the time a bet is made. The odds reflect how likely the bookmaker thinks a certain event is, and enable the bettor to calculate what they will win if the bet is successful. In the UK, fixed odds are usually shown as fraction odds, set out as follows – 5/1. In odds of this kind, the right hand number represents the stake, and the left hand number is the number of times the stake will be multiplied if the bet is successful. In most cases the left hand number is bigger, but for some bets, known as odds on bets, the right hand number is bigger, meaning that a successful bet will return less than the stake, plus the actual stake itself.
The appeal of fixed odds is their simplicity and clarity. A fixed odds bet offers either win or lose, and the bettor knows exactly how much they are risking and how much they might make at the time when the bet is placed. More experienced sports bettors might prefer spread betting, which involves greater risk in return for using in-depth knowledge to pinpoint the best bets to make, but fixed odds bets are usually the first bets people make, and a valuable introduction to the world of sports betting.
An example of a fixed odds bet:
Fast Eddie is running in the Grand National at fixed odds of 12/1. If a bet of £5 is placed to win at these odds, and the horse wins, the bettor will receive £65, a profit of £60 plus the original stake. The bet can also be placed as an each way bet, which means that the bettor will receive a pay out if the horse places, which is to say it comes in the top four or five. It should be noted that an each way bet of £5 requires a stake of £10, as it is, in effect, two separate bets. In some circumstances the fixed odds may shift after the bet has been placed, in response to events or betting patterns, but the odds given at the time of betting will always be the ones used to calculate any winnings.