The home page of an average bookmaker’s website presents a huge amount of information to the user. As well as information on what events are currently live, links to the various sports and markets and information on the latest offers and promotions, odds also tend to feature pretty heavily. All that data can be a bit dazzling, not least if the odds you are seeing do not seem to make any sense to you.
If you visit a new betting site, or even the one you normally use, and find the odds appear to be written in another language it may well be the case that they are. Well, perhaps not another language but another format. Odds are simply a description of the relationship between what you bet on an event and what you will get back should your bet win. But there are many different ways to show odds and almost all online betting sites allow you to view the odds in several different formats.
Here we will tell you how to alter the odds format, both in general and also at some of the major UK bookies. We will also provide some information about why the different formats exist and why some are used in some instances and others elsewhere.
How to Change Odds Format
As bookies are wont to redesign their sites and change how things work, it is useful to have a general idea of how to change the odds format. In addition, lots of regular punters use several different sites and it is beyond the scope of this piece to provide information on how to alter the odds at the hundreds of bookies that exist.
Where to Look, Generally
There are a few main ways that sites allow you to change the odds format so if prices are not displayed in the way with which you are most familiar and your bookmaker is not listed below, these are the places to start looking.
Some sites allow you to amend the style of odds used via your account details. This will only apply if you are logged in and access to this part of the site is normally via a tab in the top right of the screen, though this varies between bookmakers. Once you are into the account area odds format info is most likely to be found under settings or a general account area.
Some sites have a settings tab or button that is accessed from the homepage and which does not require you to be logged in. Again, this may be in the top right corner of the homepage, though some bookies might display it in the left-hand menu, and yet others might have it at the very bottom of the homepage, or even every page. Via this part of the site, you should be able to see an option to change the odds format.
Standalone Tab or Dropdown
Other sites simply have a dropdown box that allows you to select the odds format. Again, this is usually located in the top right of the screen, in the left-hand sidebar or at the bottom but it can vary. If you have been unable to locate any way to change the odds then doing a screen search for the word “odds” might help.
In most operating systems, pressing the control (command with Apple) and F buttons simultaneously opens a “find” box, allowing you to search the page or document for a specific word, phrase or character. Type “odds” into the box and you can flick through each time the word is listed until you hopefully find the option to change the format.
Whilst it may feel like a silly question, if you have spent far too much time trying to change the odds format and just cannot figure out how to do it, then simply ask. Get on live chat at the bookie in question and ask them. Compared to some of the really silly questions they get asked, and the very difficult issues they sometimes have to resolve, this will be a doddle for them and they should be more than happy to help.
Note that some bookies might handle things one way on their desktop site and another if you are accessing via an app. For the following specific bookmakers we have detailed how to change the odds on the desktop versions of the sites. Usually this is broadly the same on the app but that may not always be the case.
How to Change the Odds at William Hill
William Hill make things really easy and whether you are logged in or not, changing the odds format is a doddle. First of all, make sure you are at the sports betting area of the site, rather than the casino, bingo or poker sites (or any other area of the site). If you are, then at the top of the screen, towards the right, there is a dropdown tab for “Odds Format”. Click that and then just choose between fractional odds, decimal odds and American odds.
How to Change the Odds at Betfred
At Betfred, the odds format link is a little trickier to find but again, it is simple enough. Especially as we can tell you exactly where it is. You change the format in the same way whether you are logged in or not and this is by scrolling down the left-hand sidebar.
Go past the various sports and promotions, past the “Quick Links” until you get to the “Useful Links” (are the quick ones not useful, we wonder?). Under here you will see “Settings” and when you click this you will be taken to various options, one of which is for the odds type. As with Hill’s, just pick whichever you prefer from fractional, decimal and American.
How to Change the Odds at Betfair (Sportsbook)
At Betfair’s Exchange, you can only view prices in decimal format, for reasons we will discuss later. The Exchange has experimented with displaying fractional odds indicators when you hover over a price but this is not something available at the time of writing.
In the Sportsbook, however, which works like a normal bookmaker, you will find the option to alter the odds format on the homepage. It makes no difference whether you are logged in or not, just scroll down past the main body of the page, past the odds and sports and just before the bottom section that includes various links, license information and small print, you will see a dropdown in the centre of the page. Labelled “View odds as” you have a binary choice between decimal and fractional.
How to Change the Odds at Coral
Coral are a familiar sight on the high street and another of the UK betting institutions we are sure lots of you have got accounts with. If you want to change the odds format with this bookmaker then you do so via your account settings.
Access these in the top right of the screen by clicking the person silhouette or your name/balance. Either take you into your account, from where you should select “Settings”, found under the “Account” sub-heading. Click “Betting Settings” and you have the choice between decimal and fractional prices.
How to Change the Odds at Ladbrokes
Ladbrokes are another UK high street behemoth and have been under the same ownership as Coral for a number of years now. The two websites are increasingly alike and that means that at both you will need to be logged in to alter the odds format. This has not always been the case and may change but currently neither site has a settings tab accessible pre-login that allows you to change the style in which the prices are presented.
Once you are logged in, switching between decimal and fractional is exactly the same as at Coral. So, access your account by clicking the person/account icon or your name/balance, visit account settings and then select betting settings and make your pick.
How to Change the Odds at BetVictor
At BetVictor you will clearly see an option marked “Settings” in the left-hand sidebar of the homepage. Just click this and you will see an option dropdown for “Odds Display”. The default is what they term “UK style odds” – in other words, fractional prices. BetVictor also offer decimal odds, listed as “Euro style odds”, as well as options for Indonesian and Chinese formats. If you are logged in, the process is exactly the same.
Different Odds Formats & How They Work
Whilst the above information makes it clear that most UK betting sites focus on just two main odds formats, UK/fractional and European/decimal, it also shows that there are many more besides those two. As well as the US, Indonesia and Chinese already mentioned, there are Malay-style odds, Australian odds, Hong Kong odds and probably more as well. We will focus on the main three you are most likely to see and, given the growing interest in US sports, those are fractional, decimal and American.
In the UK, the vast majority of people, certainly those over the age of about 30, are most familiar with fractional odds. If you hear odds being discussed on the news or written about in papers, it will almost certainly be fractional prices.
Even money, also known as evens and less commonly 1/1, means that you stand to win the same amount as your stake if your bet wins. If the bookie didn’t take a cut for themselves, evens would be the price assigned when an outcome has exactly a 50% chance of occurring. The simplest example of this is tossing a coin, so if you and a friend both put down a £2 coin and then play heads or tails, the winner takes the £4 (£2 net win and the loser is £2 down).
Odds higher than evens are called odds-against, with odds lower, or shorter, known as odds-on. With higher, or longer odds, you will win more than your stake, whilst with shorter prices you will win less than you staked (in terms of net win, the overall return will be bigger because your stake is always returned with a winning bet).
We will avoid mathematical terms and say that with fractional odds the number on the left is your net win and the number on the right is your stake. So 2/1 means that a £1 bet returns £3 and yields a £2 net win. A £50 bet at 2/1 returns £150 and £100 net win, with a £2 net win for every £1 risked (staked).
The number on the right is not always 1 and it is not always smaller than the figure on the left (as in the case of an odds-on price). So you might see a warm favourite priced at odds of 4/5. Bet £5 and win and your net win is £4, with £9 the payout including your initial stake. Alternatively, you might see odds of 10/3, an odds-against price that delivers a £10 net win for every £3 staked, though you can bet any amount you want (subject to standard bookmaker limits).
Just to confuse matters ever so slightly, a price of 1/5 may be described either as “one to five” or “five to one, on”, the on indicating that it is an odds-on price. So 8/11 would normally be spoken as “eight to 11” but may be referred to as “eight to 11, on” by some.
Whatever the odds, if you want to calculate the winnings with a less obvious price such as 7/4, the formula is the same. Let’s say that you bet £10 on a 7/4 winner. Your net win from the bet is seven, divided by four, multiplied by your £10 bet. In other words, £17.50. Back a tidy 33/1 winner with a £2 stake and your returns are 33 divided by one, multiplied by £2, so £66, plus your £2 stake.
Decimal betting odds are used at exchanges, in most European countries and in a number of other nations too. Evens in decimal odds is 2, or 2.0, or 2.00, with decimal odds almost always written to two decimal places. This number shows what your return is from a bet of one unit, be that a British pound, a Euro or anything else. Your stake is included with decimal odds and any number higher than 2.00 describes a bet that is odds-against, with prices of 1.99 down being odds-on.
In some ways, decimal odds are easier to understand as it is always obvious which price is bigger if you are comparing. Whilst those who have grown up with fractional odds may instantly know that a price of 4/9 is bigger than 4/11, which is, in turn, bigger than 1/3, then 2/7, a newbie punter might well not.
However, in decimal odds, those prices are 1.44, 1.36, 1.33 and 1.29 and even someone with the most rudimentary knowledge of odds (or maths in general) can see which offers the biggest returns. Due to this simplicity and the growth in exchanges, more and more people are using decimal odds as standard.
If you are a fan of baseball, basketball or any other predominantly US sports, you may read American media or tipping sites and you may have come across American/US odds. In this odds format, evens, or 2.00, is written as 100 and this indicates what will be won in terms of a net win from a bet of 100 units (dollars, pounds, or whatever). All higher odds-against prices are based on the same theory, so that 8/1 (or 9.00 in decimal odds) is written as 800 and 5/4 (2.25 in decimal) is 125.
Things get ever so slightly more complex when it comes to prices that are shorter than evens. If you ever see a minus sign in American odds then that instantly tells you the price is odds-on. In this situation, the number indicates what you would have to stake to deliver a net win of 100 units.
As such, 1/3, or 1.33 in decimal, is -300 in US odds. To make a net win of £100, you need to bet £300, though once again, of course, you can bet as much or as little as you like. 1.20 in decimal prices is 1/5 at most UK sites, whilst at an American bookie, such a price would be written as -500.
Why Does the UK Use Fractional Odds?
Betting has been around for thousands of years in some form or other but the UK has long been at the forefront of legalised betting. Quite why the UK adopted the fractional system is unclear but this has been the way of things for hundreds of years and pre-dates the use of the decimalised monetary system that was only adopted in the UK in 1971.
Before the very end of the 18th century, there was a huge number of different measuring systems in use for a whole range of things all over the world. In 1799 the French essentially created the metric system, with metres and kilos at its centre. Called the “Decimal System” at this stage, it became popular all over Europe and it would be far from surprising if England and the UK refused to adopt it simply out of stubbornness and exceptionalism.
It is thought that the UK odds system has some links to some of these older measurements and monetary systems. For example, pre-decimalisation, there were 240 pence in the pound in the UK, or 20 shillings, each worth 12 old pence. The UK fractional system of odds uses a lot of eights, such as 13/8, 11/8 and other seemingly strange prices such as 100/30 (rather than 10/3) and it is thought that it is because they were easier to work out in the old monetary system.
Why Do Exchanges Use Decimal Odds?
Betting exchanges exclusively use decimal odds and this is because they have only been around for a relatively short time. The rest of the industry is far more focused on the fractional system simply because that is the way things have always been done. Ladbrokes can trace its roots back to the 19th century, Coral to the 1920s and William Hill to 1930. In contrast, exchanges are very much a 21st-century phenomenon.
Betting and horse racing, to which the former is so heavily linked, value tradition greatly and so have seen little reason to change an odds format which has done the job just fine (thank you very much) for hundreds of years (Shakespeare uses such odds in many of his works from the 16th and 17th century). Exchanges are far newer and wanted to position themselves as a modern alternative to the traditional bookie. They wanted to create an image of themselves as being simpler and better and using decimal odds helped.
Easier to Understand, Allows More Options, Easier to Work Out Return
Betfair themselves list three reasons why they use decimal odds at their exchange. They argue that they are easier to understand, allow more options and that it is easier to work out your return. It is hard to argue with any of that on the whole, and it is primarily the issue of precision, allowing more options, that makes decimal odds perfect for exchanges.
In theory, bookies could create highly precise gradations of fractional odds but, again probably for historic reasons, they do not. That means that a traditional UK bookie does not offer odds between 8/11 and 4/5. Those prices equate to 1.73 (1.7272 recurring) and 1.80, which is actually quite a wide margin. In contrast, an exchange, which uses decimal odds as its default, can give customers the opportunity to back or lay selections at any price in between those two figures.
At longer odds, you see a similar picture. At a standard UK bookmaker, you will normally see odds of 12/1, then 14/1, with no 13/1 and generally no 25/2 (or 12.5/1). In contrast, at the exchange, 12/1 is 13.0 in decimal odds and you may well be able to make bets at 13.50, 14.00 (13/1) and 14.50.
The only time the exchange actually lags behind a traditional bookie is when it comes to a very short-priced selection or a very long-priced one. Exchanges do not offer odds of more than 1,000 (999/1) or below 1.01 (1/100). They could easily offer odds above 1,000 but choose not to, which means anyone who backed Leicester for the Premier League title in 2016 at an exchange would have got no more than 999/1 rather than the famous odds of 5,000/1 some canny punters nabbed.
On the other hand, if you can find a selection that you believe has a fair price of 1/500, but you can back it at 1.01 at the exchange, you will be getting huge value. The system is unable to price the selection as short as it should. Whilst backing something at 1.01 isn’t for everyone (you’ll be risking £100 to make a net win of £1), if the true odds are far shorter, it is still an excellent value bet.