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What Are Betting Odds And How To Read Them

How do you read betting odds? What are they? What’s the difference between fractional odds and decimal odds? All this and more explained here!

Hollywoodbets FAQ

Betting odds are basically the mathematical expression of an outcome going in your favour. But how do you read them? What are they? What's the difference between fractional odds and decimal odds? All this and more explained here!

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What are Odds?

Take the throw of a die as an example. A die has six sides. No matter which side you choose, the chances of the die landing on your pick is one in six. That’s five chances against it landing on your number, and one chance for it. This is shown as odds of 5/1.

If you were to wager R10 on these ODDS of 5/1 your bet would be R50 to R10 (R50/R10).

If the dice landed on the number you chose, then you would win R50 plus your R10 stake returned.

If the dice landed on any other number, you would lose your R10.

You would expect to win every sixth throw, thereby losing five throws (R50) and winning on one throw (R50) for a break-even after six throws.

Understanding Odds

Before you can start betting, you need to understand what odds are and how they work. Odds exist to highlight the ratio between your stake (outlay) and your potential winnings on your chosen market or outcome.

The first thing to understand is that there are two ways that we interpret odds here at Hollywoodbets: fractional and decimal.

Fractional Odds

Fractional odds can be slightly more difficult to understand than decimal odds. They are represented as 5/1, 9/2 or 5/10. The easiest way to understand these is “how much can I win”/”how much I must wager

With this in mind, if you take a R1 bet at odds of 5/1 and your selection wins, you will win R5 and you will get your R1 stake back too! If you stake R1 at 9/2 you will get R4.50 along with your R1 outlay.

Fractional odds may appear to be the wrong way around: 1/5 or 5/10. These are what we refer to as “odds-on” selections. You’ll see these sorts of odds when a heavy favourite takes on an underdog – think Liverpool vs Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup. The Reds might be 1/5 to win the game. This means you will need to wager R5 to win R1 back.

Finally, let’s break this down the same way your primary school maths teacher might have done:

((Stake/denominator) x numerator) + stake = winnings

So, R10 wagered at 5/1

((R10/1) x 5) +10 = R50

Decimal Odds

You’ll be pleased to know that decimal odds are far easier to deal if you’re a new player! Unlike some other bookmakers, we don’t include the stake in our decimal odds. Decimal odds at Hollywoodbets will always represent how much you stand to win for every R1 wagered. So decimal odds of 1.0 is the equivalent of even money (1/1) while 3.0 will be the same as 3/1.

When it comes to decimal odds, you’ll sometimes see less 1.0. Anything below 1.0 will be considered an odds-on favourite. For example, Manchester City might be 0.72 (72/100) to beat Tottenham while the All Blacks might be 0.001 (1/100) to beat Portugal in the Rugby World Cup!

Converting Fractional Odds to Decimal

If you’re ever in a situation where you need to convert fractional odds to decimal, all you need to do is divide your fraction. For example, if you want to convert 9/2 to decimal odds, you would do the following sum: (9÷2)= 4.5.


INTERESTING NOTE: Even if you throw three of the same number in a row, the odds of you throwing another are still 5/1! However, the odds of you throwing three of the same number in a row, one after the other, are 215/1. (5/1 x 5/1 x 5/1) = (6 x 6 x 6 – 1) = 215/1.

Throwing three of the same number in a row are an example of what we call a multiple bet. It’s like you betting on three horses in three races, each at 5/1.

For example:

Race 1: Horse number 7 @ 5/1 = (5 + 1 = 6)

Race 5: Horse number 5 @ 5/1 = (5 + 1 =6)

Race 8: Horse number 3 @ 5/1 = (5 + 1 =6)

Multiply 6 x 6 x 6 = 216 – 1 = 215.  The odds are therefore 215/1.

For R10 you will get R2 150 or R4 250/R20, R6 450/R30.

When we talk about odds in terms of betting, we aren’t talking about the true chances that an event will occur as with the throw of a dice, but instead the amounts a bookmaker will payout on winning bets.

Horse Racing Betting

In a horse race we talk about a horse’s chances against the other horses in that field.  These odds are usually derived from how that horse has performed in the past. This is also known as the horse’s ‘form’.

Unlike the dice example, every runner in a horse race is different.  The jockey riding the horse, the breeding of a horse, the distance covered and how much weight the horse is carrying are only a few of the numerous factors that influence a horse’s given chances.

The odds of a horse can also be determined by:

  1. Two-year-old horses – Breeding and cost as yearlings and the stable which they belong to.

  2. Horses whose odds are determined by form lines and sometimes by the betting support they received in past races. Winning Form publishes a page that shows beaten favourites and horses backed in their last starts:

Sports Betting

With regards to sports betting, the odds are determined by how well the team’s sportsmen/sportswomen perform: i.e., the better the form the better the odds. Form is performance based on past achievements (the stronger the form the shorter the odds and vice versa).

However, one should keep in mind that various extraneous factors, such as injuries to key players and/ or the weather conditions on the day, can have a massive bearing on a team’s performance, and subsequently affect the betting odds.


Odds in sporting events and horse racing fluctuate according to market forces, meaning they are affected by the amounts of money being wagered, i.e. the more money being wagered on a horse, the shorter or less its odds become.  Conversely, the odds of the other horses in the field increase.

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