What are Betting Odds?
If you have never placed a bet before then betting odds may seem daunting to begin with but this guide will help you get a better understanding of what betting odds are so that you can confidently use them while matched betting.
Put simply, betting odds represent the ratio between the amount you have to stake on a bet to the amount the bookmaker will have to pay you if your bet is successful.
For example, if a bookie was offering odds of 5 to 1, this would mean the bookmaker would have to pay you €/£5 in winnings for every €/£1 you bet with them if your bet won.
If the bookmaker is offering much lower odds than other bookmakers for a particular event then it may be best to look for something else to bet on at that bookie as using poor odds will increase our losses on qualifying bets and reduce our return from free bets.
Betting Odds Formats
Fractional Odds Explained
Fractional odds are what you will see on most bookmaker websites by default and is probably what most regular punters use.
Fractional odds are displayed as the amount of money the bookie will pay out if your bet wins (your potential winning) followed by a forward slash then followed by the amount you need to stake to get your potential winning.
In the below example from the bookmaker Paddy Power, we can see they are offering fractional odds of 9/1 on Granada to beat Barcelona in a Spanish La Liga match.
This means if we were to place a €10 bet on Granada to win we would return €100 if Granada won the match .i.e €90 in winnings plus our original stake of €10.
Decimal Odds Explained
Most bookmakers will not automatically displace odds in the decimal format and you will usually have to change your settings for decimal odds to be displayed.
Generally, decimal odds on bookmakers and betting exchanges range from 1.01 to 10,000.00.
Decimal odds show you how much your bet will return including your original stake, simply by multiplying your stake by the decimal odds.
Decimal odds are most often used on betting exchanges such as Betfair and Smarkets as they make the process of backing and laying much easier.
If we look at the same Barcelona vs Granda match on the Paddy Power website but this time switch the odds to decimal we can see that the odds for Granada are 10.0 which is the same as 9/1 in fractional odds.
Placing the same €10 bet will get you the same return of €100.
Which odds format is best to use for Matched Betting?
So you are probably wondering if I get the same return whether I use decimal or fractional odds, why should I care which one I use.
The answer is that using decimal odds makes it much easier for you to compare the odds at the bookie versus the odds being offered at the exchange.
For example, if you use fractional odds at the bookie and you see that they are offering odds of 5/2 on a team to win then you go to the betting exchange and you see that the odds to lay the team are 3.5.
If you are a beginner then you might not immediately know that in fact, these two odds are the same.
If you switch to displaying decimal odds then you will be able to compare odds between the bookie and the exchange much quicker which will allow you to place your bets faster.
Over time, you will be able to convert fractional odds into decimal odds as you gain more experience in matched betting so it would be as big an issue then.
In terms of which odds format is best to use for matched betting then I recommend that you do not change the odds on your bookmaker sites to the decimal format as I believe it may be one of the checks bookmakers use to identify matched bettors.