Decimal odds are decimal figures that tell a sports bettor how much money he will win if his bet succeeds. Although the function of decimal odds as just described is exactly the same as that of fractional odds, decimal odds are easier to understand, easier to work with on a practical level and far more modern. Whilst some traditionalists would prefer all betting odds to be presented as fractions (as they have been for many decades) the change to decimal odds was always as inevitable as the shift from feet and inches to metres and centimetres, so whether one likes it or not, decimal odds are here to stay.
Understanding decimal odds
Understanding decimal odds is easy, because a decimal odds figure tells you exactly how much profit you would make on a winning bet to a 1 unit stake. For example, decimal odds of 2.50 tell you that if you place a £1 bet and it wins, you will be paid £2.50 in profit. Of course, you will also get your £1 stake back. In traditional fractional format, decimal odds of 2.50 would be presented as 5/2, which is clearly a lot more complicated than things need to be.
Of course, most people won’t want to always bet £1, so it is important to be able to calculate a total profit using decimal odds for any given stake. Again, decimal odds make this very easy – all you have to do is multiply the decimal odds figure by the amount of your bet.
For example, let’s say that you wanted to bet £10 on a horse offered at decimal odds of 3.50 (which used to be 7/2 in old money). In this case you would simply multiply 3.50 x £10 to get your total profit, which is obviously £35. If this is too easy for example purposes, the same formula applies to any other decimal odds or stake. So if you placed a bet of £52.50 on a horse price at 3.25, your potential profit would be £52.50 x £3.25 = £170.62.
When you bet at some online betting sites, the decimal odds are adjusted so that they also include your returned 1 unit stake. Decimal odds of 2.50 would therefore appear as screen odds of 3.50. Because screen odds are always 1 unit bigger than pure decimal odds (because they include your 1 unit stake) you should make sure that you know what kind of odds your preferred sportsbook site uses as the default. If the stake is included automatically then you can convert the screen odds to pure decimal odds by deducting 1. Screen odds of 5.50 would therefore convert to pure decimal odds of 4.50, which in fractional terms used to be known as 9/2.
Decimal odds and traditional odds
Although traditionalists might initially resist the increasing use of decimal odds in the world of sports betting, more open-minded individuals will quickly recognise the fact that decimal odds really do make life easier. They may not be as eccentric or elitist as fractional odds, but decimal odds are a lot more user-friendly. If your preferred bookmaker hasn’t started using decimal odds already, you can be sure that he will be doing so in the very near future.