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Horse Racing Odds Explained - Your handy guide on how do odds work?

If you’re wondering how do odds work or want betting odds explained, then I can help. I’ve been gambling and using betting odds in horse racing for many years.

So, how do betting odds work? It’s very simple, bookmakers offer prices in either decimal or fractional form. The latter is most common in the UK. If a horse is 3/1 for a race, then if you put £1 on and it does emerge victorious you win £3. With any winning bets you also get your stake back, so your return at odds of 3/1 is £4. That is the odds ratio explained and it’s simple as that.

Not all prices are as straightforward mind, but this is why they teach us maths in school. Other prices like 15/2 and 7/4 aren’t actually that much more complicated. In these specific cases, if you put £2 on a horse to win at the first price and it did, then you would have £15 in winnings from the bookies, plus your stake back - a total return of £17. A horse racing winner at 7/4, meanwhile, means to win £7 you would have to stake £4 and get that back, which is an £11 return.

Getting horse racing odds explained when your fancy is even-money or odds-on isn’t too difficult either. An even-money shot is a horse that will double the amount you staked on it if it wins, so if you bet £5 you receive a return of £10. Horses that are odds-on will always be hotly fancied, either attracting masses of support from punters or are feared by the bookmakers who dare not risk giving a bigger price away. If you take odds of 1/3, then you need to bet £3 to win £1 and have a total return of £4. Betting on horses that odds-on are seen as poor value, but there will be a reason behind their price. Some punters back odds-on horses together across multiple races to try and boost the return. This can be risky, though.

How do betting odds work if you’re wanting to back a horse each-way though? Unlike a regular win single, each-way bets are actually two in one. You are placing one part of the bet on the horse to win the race and another of the same value on it finishing in a place. A fraction of the win price, usually a quarter for handicaps and a fifth for other races, is available on the place part of an each-way bet. Precise terms and number of places available on an each-way bet vary depending on the type of race and from bookmaker to bookmaker, as some bookies may payout for an extra place as part of a special promotion they are running.

Having odds explained is that easy, and if you’d prefer to see decimal prices rather than fractional ones most bookmakers now offer you the choice. How do these odds work? Decimal odds cannot be less than 1.01 in principle (extra decimal places would be added to anything shorter in price than this, the equivalent of 1/100 in fraction). Even-money translates from fractional odds as 2.0 here, while 7/4 is 2.75 and 15/2 becomes 8.5. Unlike fractional odds, decimal odds allow you to multiply what you have staked to see your return straight away and not just what you’ll win.

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