Odds can be quite confusing and at first sight may put a lot of people off betting. Some sportsbooks quote odds in 'decimal', some in 'fractional', but most will allow you to view odds in both formats. Fractional odds are really a legacy of the past. Primarily in the UK fractional odds were, and still are largely used. With the advent of online betting many sportsbooks now default to the decimal system, however it is useful to know what both mean.
The difference (and ultimately similarity) between decimal and fractional odds is quite simple once you look at it, so here is how it all works. Also check out our betting calculators to calculate how much you could potentially win from different types of bet. Our calculators work with both decimal and fractional odds
Fractional odds are the traditional odds you see in the bookmaker window on the high street such as 10/1 or 6/4. Simply treat them like fractions. If you divide the first number by the second, you will get a multiplier. For example, 10/1 means that whatever you stake on this bet you will receive 10 times your stake back if you win. So, £1 on a 10/1 bet will give you £10 winnings. For £1 on 6/4 you just need to divide 6 by 4, giving you a multiplier of 1.5. Therefore if you stake £1 on a 6/4 bet you will return winnings of £1.50.
When you bet and win you also get your stake back on top of your winnings. So, £1 at 10/1 will give you £10 (winnings), plus your £1 stake back equalling a total return of £11, and £1 at 6/4 will give you £1.50 (winnings), plus your £1 stake back equalling a total return of £2.50.
For those of you in the United Kingdom, UK betting law used to levy tax on stakes or winnings (you could choose when tax was applied - before the running of the bet (on the stake), or after (on your winnings)), but this has now been abolished, which makes odds and calculating returns a lot simpler. Other countries may still have tax on betting stakes and/or winnings, but in the UK betting winnings are tax free.
Sportsbooks commonly quote odds in a decimal format. Decimal odds make things simpler since you do not have to deal with fractions and calculating winnings using more complicated fractions like 10/11.
Decimal odds, unlike fractional odds, reflect a multiplier that will give you your total return (winnings plus stake). For example, if a team are 10/1 in fractional odds, this would equal 11.00 in decimal odds. If you put £1 on an outcome at decimal odds of 11.00 you will win £11 total returns (simply 1 multiplied by 11.00).
Decimal odds are simply a multiplier by which you can multiply your unit stake and calculate your total returns (winnings plus returned stake). It does make things a little simpler, however if you like to keep your winnings and total returns (stake plus winnings) calculations separate (for example if you want to compare winnings to stake as a percentage of stakes), then stick to fractional. Most online sportsbooks allow you to set your odds preference once you have registered an account, so you need not worry if you prefer one or the other, you will be able to choose.