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How Do Betting Odds Work? - Betting Odds Explained

FAIRYHOUSE 18 April 2022 Boylesports Irish Grand National A view of the packed enclosure on Irish National Day HEALY RACING
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The exhilaration of watching horse racing is often difficult to beat. To help you make the very most of your day, whether it’s at the track or watching it on TV or online, here’s a simple guide to understanding betting odds.

The odds in horse racing tell you how likely an event is to happen, and how much you can expect to receive from a successful bet. With time and a little experience, betting odds like 17/2 will become second nature to you. Betting terminology along with understanding types of bets are a good place to start.

How do Betting Odds Work

By understanding how betting odds work, you can quickly compare horses to see which has the best chance of winning. For example a horse with odds of 2/1 is deemed to have a much better chance of winning than a horse with odds of 100/1, although it is important to bear in mind that this information is subjective.

Odds are displayed by bookmakers in two ways, in fractions and in decimals.

How do Fractional Odds Work

Fractional odds can seem complex to begin with but in reality are quite straightforward, and are the most popular way for bookmakers to display their horse racing betting odds.

Below are fractional odds explained.

  • If a horse is 5/1 then for every €1 wagered you will receive a €5 profit.

  • If a horse is 13/2 then for every €2 wagered you will receive a €13 profit.

  • If a horse is 10/11 then for every €11 wagered you will receive a €10 profit.

In the final example above, when the right-hand number is higher than the left-hand number, this is known as ‘odds-on’ and is a riskier bet. You may also hear the term ‘Evens’ thrown around, this is when a horse is 1/1, so for every €5 you stake, you will receive €5 in profit.

Don't have a betting account yet? Find a list with all bookmakers reviewed by our experts, that offer the latest free bets here.

How do Decimal Odds Work

Decimal betting odds are synonymous with exchanges such as Betfair and in some ways are easier to work with if you are new to betting.

    Your stake is included in the decimal odds so the simple way to calculate your total return is:

  • Decimal odd number x stake

  • For example, if the decimal odds for your horse is 5.0 and you stake €10 to win you will receive 5 x 10 which is €50.

  • If a horse is evens, again the stake is included and the decimal odds for that horse will be displayed as 2.0.

How to convert Fractional to Decimal Odds

The majority of leading bookmakers will give you the option to display odds as fractions or decimals. If you are at the races however, and wish to convert a bookmaker’s fractional odds to decimals then you can use the following calculation:

    To convert odds displayed as 5/1 you divide 5 by 1 and add 1:

    5/1 = 5 + 1 = 6.0

    Shorter odds of 6/4:

    6/4 = 1.5 + 1 = 2.5

Betting Example

One of the most fun parts of attending the races is choosing your selection in the parade ring and placing a bet on your horse. Betting adds to the fun, interest and intrigue around a horse race.

Here is an example a horse racing bet:

  • You pick a horse whose odds are 10/1

  • You have €10 to stake on the race and place your bet at 10/1.

  • If your horse wins the race, your winnings will be €10 x €10 = €100 plus your stake so your total return is €110.

  • The same horse would be displayed as 11.0 in decimal odds.

  • If you place €10 at these odds, you simply calculate:

    €10 x €11 = €110

You can also use our bet calculator if you need help with different types of bets.

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More Reading

For more information on types of bets along with how to place a bet and horse racing betting terminology, see the following links: