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4. Decimal Odds versus Fractional Odds

Whenever you gamble, there will be a pre-determined payout arrangement for when you win, albeit sometimes unspoken. With coin tossing or playing "spoof", it may be that the loser pays for the next round of drinks. When tossing a single coin to see who gets to win the coin itself, then the Odds are one-for-one (often referred to as "evens").

With spoof, the loser often pays out an amount many times more than he/she would have had to pay for their own drink alone. But we all know the rules of that game before we start!

For soccer betting, the Odds quoted by the Bookies come in two forms:

  1. Standard (or Fractional) Odds, and
  2. Decimal Odds.

Standard Odds are quoted in a whole number format (9 to 4, 2 to 5, 2 to 1, etc., and sometimes 9/4, 2/5, 2/1, etc.), while Decimal Odds are quoted in the format 1.25, 2.63, 7.00, etc.

Standard Odds were the preferred means of conveying the levels of payout being offered by the Bookies until the early 1990's, when Decimal Odds began to take over - but you can still see standard/fractional Odds being offered today, even on the Internet.

Standard Odds were adequate for the purpose for which they were initially devised, but with more and more accumulator bets being placed (doubles, trebles and so on), the calculations were becoming very complex unless you had a brain like Einstein's.

Consider for example that you had a winning treble bet comprising the Standard Odds quoted above (9 to 4, 2 to 5 and 2 to 1). The first set of numbers (9 to 4) means that for every 4 units laid out, a win would return 9 units plus the original 4 units staked (that is, 13 units in total). If your stake was 1 unit (which could be 50 pence or 50), then the number of units you would have won with that treble bet would be 12.65 over and above your 1 unit stake. This is calculated as follows: 1 unit at 9 to 4 gives you 3.25 to go onto the second leg (the 1 starter plus 2.25 winnings - this also equals the 13 units total winnings divided by 4, because the stake is only 1 unit not 4 units), which then gives 4.55 going onto the third leg (the 3.25 from the result of the first leg plus 1.30 winnings from the second leg), giving a final payout of 13.65 units (the 4.55 going onto the third leg plus 9.10 winnings), from which you have to deduct the 1 unit starter to arrive at the net winnings of 12.65 units.

If you attempted to do the above calculation in your head you would have to agree it's complicated, even for those with a maths degree!

Added to this, if you are faced with a range of differing Standard Odds from various Bookies, it is often difficult to appreciate which Bookie is offering the best return overall on an accumulator bet, unless you are prepared to do a lot of hard work to find out the answer.

Using Decimal Odds reduces the number of steps in the calculation process and also enables you to see immediately how much you are getting for every unit staked (just deduct "1" from the Decimal Odds). To work out the returns per unit from a winning accumulator, simply multiply all the Odds together and deduct the 1 unit stake; that's all there is to it! But to make sure you properly understand the relationship between Decimal Odds and Standard Odds, we'll take you through it the hard way.

As our example we will use the treble bet scenario given above, where the first step is to convert the Standard Odds to Decimal Odds. For the first leg, simply divide the "4" (the second number) into the "9" (the first number), add a value of "1" and then write the resultant answer down. Thereafter continue to do the same thing with the Odds for the second and third legs. This will give you three sets of numbers representing the Decimal Odds: 3.25, 1.40 and 3.00. You then multiply those three numbers together to give you 13.65, from which you deduct the 1 unit starter to give you a winnings total of 12.65.

Of course, if you are quoted the three sets of Decimal Odds in the first place instead of the Standard Odds, all you then have to do to calculate your winnings per unit is multiply those Decimal Odds together and deduct "1" from the total. Now, isn't that easier? So why some quarters still persist in using the antiquated Standard Odds format without offering the Decimal Odds as an alternative beats us! Perhaps it's perpetuated simply because it confuses the majority of us!

Our advice is to convert all Standard Odds into Decimal Odds using the simple method described above, and then you won't be faced with all the problems that working with Standard Odds would otherwise bring. Additionally, you will need Decimal Odds to find Value Bets; Standard Odds are useless for that purpose (the sub-section in our Betting Advice entitled "Value Bets" explains what we mean in quite some detail).

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