Understanding Odds

There are two ways odds – or prices – are displayed at racecourses in Britain: the traditional fractional system or the more recently introduced decimal system.

Fractional odds:

These are usually displayed in this format: 4/1.

In spoken form this is “Four-to-one” and sometimes this can be written as: 4-1.

Odds are just maths. To illustrate some examples, let’s call each number a unit. So:

4/1: For every 1 unit you stake, you will receive 4 units if you win (plus your stake).
7/2: For every 2 units you stake, you will receive 7 units if you win (plus your stake).
9/4: For every 4 units you stake, you will receive 9 units if you win (plus your stake).

If you see fractional odds the other way round – such as 1/4 – this is called odds-on and means the horse in question is a hot favourite to win the race.

In spoken form this is “Four-to-one on”.

1/4: For every 4 units you stake, you will receive 1 unit if you win (plus your stake).
1/2: For every 2 units you stake, you will receive 1 unit if you win (plus your stake).

Sometimes you will see Evens or EVS displayed. This is the equivalent of a 1/1 fraction. Again it means the horse in question is expected to win the race.

EVS: For every 1 unit you stake, you will receive 1 unit if you win (plus your stake).

Decimal odds:

These are usually displayed in this format: 5.00.

5.00: Simply multiply this number by your stake to calculate your total potential returns if you are placing a win bet. Unlike fractional odds, your stake is already factored into this price i.e. this is the equivalent of 4/1 plus the 1 unit you stake.

Favourites:

Each race has a favourite. This is the horse most likely to win, which is reflected in having the shortest price displayed with betting operators.

You will see an F alongside the horse’s odds when they are the favourite. If more than one horse has the same odds of winning according to the betting market, this will be displayed as JF, meaning joint-favourite.

What about odds when betting each-way?

Racecourse bookmakers operating at Jockey Club Racecourses must meet (or exceed in the customer’s favour) a standard set of terms if you decide to place an each-way bet.

You will appreciate it is not affordable for bookmakers to pay out on all four places in a four runner race (!) so these agreed terms concerning place part of your each-way bet have to vary dependent on the number of runners and type of race. These are:

• Races with 3 or runners: win bets only, unless the bookmaker chooses to offer 1/5 (one fifth) of the stated odds for finishing 1st or 2nd
• Races with 3 or 4 runners: 1/5 (one fifth) of the stated odds for finishing 1st or 2nd
• Races with 5 to 7 runners (inclusive): 1/4 (one quarter) odds for finishing 1st or 2nd
• Races with 8 or more runners: 1/5 odds for finishing 1st, 2nd or 3rd
• Handicap races with 12 to 15 runners (inclusive): 1/4 odds for finishing 1st, 2nd or 3rd
• Handicap races with 16 to 21 runners (inclusive): 1/5 odds for finishing 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th
• Handicap races with 22 or more runners: 1/4 odds for finishing 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th

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