Last Updated on:
The odds on a bet represent how likely the bookmaker thinks it is that the bet is likely to win, and therefore how much they are offering in terms of winnings. In most parts of the world these odds are displayed as either fractional odds or decimal odds. Fractional odds are by far the dominant choice in the UK and Ireland, and are amongst the oldest form of odds in the world. A typical example of fractional odds would be 5/1, which means that anyone placing a single bet receives five times the amount they wagered, plus the original stake, if the bet proves to be successful.
In the case of many fractional odds, the number on the right, which represents the stake, will be lower than the number on the left, which is the amount the stake will be multiplied by. A successful £5 bet on horse to win a race at odds of 7/1, for example, will produce winnings of £40, made up of the original stake plus £35 (£5×7) in profit.
If the horse in question is a particular favourite to win the race then the bet will be described as odds on. This means that the number on the right is actually larger than the number on the left. For example, a successful £10 bet on a horse at odds of 8/10 will result in winnings of £18, made up of the original stake of £10 and a profit of £8 which is actually less than the stake itself. Fractional odds function as both an extremely simple way of calculating exactly how much can be won for a specific bet placed, and also as a shorthand for the likelihood of a particular outcome. By using research and knowledge of the sport in question, and by placing in-play bets in response to on-going events, it is possible to place bets which take advantage of fractional odds which may be more generous than the situation merits.