Understanding the Odds at Sportsbooks

When you go to place a bet, you will see that there are prices (odds) quoted for the runners. These prices are usually made up of two numbers with a slash between, for example 5/4, 11/8, 5/1, 7/2, 15/2, 25/1. These prices are a ratio telling you what you will win for a particular stake. The amount on the left of the price is what rou will win if you bet the amount on the right. The money bet IS called the stake. If you win, your stake is refunded. The total amount won is called the returns or payout.

If the price quoted is 6/1 , you will win £6 for every £1 staked. Your stake is also refunded. If you bet £5 on a horse at 6/1, your returns will be (6 x 5) + 5 = £35.

If you bet of £4 on a horse at odds of 6/4, your returns will be 6 + 4 = £10.

If you bet £1 on a horse at odd of 11/2 will return 5.5 + 1 = £6.50.


Odds against and odds on
Where the number on the left of the price is bigger than the number on the right the term odds against is used; where it is less it is called odds on. Where both numbers are the same, e.g. 1/1, the term even money or evens is used.

1/1 is even money (always written as ‘evens’)

13/8 is odds against, 8/13 is odds on

5/2 is odds against, 2/5 is odds on

You will often hear prices quoted with the word ‘on’, for example, ‘2/1 on’. This actually means that the price is 1/2. Therefore, when the word ‘on’ is quoted, to find the correct price the order of the price needs to be reversed: 11/8 on is 8/11, 7/4 on is 4/7 and 6/5 on is 5/6. This can lead to confusion, particularly if you mishear.


Each way
Bookmakers also accept each-way bets. This is two bets. One bet is for the horse to win the race and the other is for it to be placed second third or fourth. The number of places paid depends on the number of runners in the race. It is important to pay particular attention to the number of places paid as some bookmakers offer lower odds than others.

If your horse wins the race, one bet will be settled at the full odds but the other bet will be settled at a fraction of the odds.

Suppose you bet £10 each way on a horse. Your stake will be £20 because an each-way bet is two bets. If the horse wins at 4/1 and one-quarter of the odds are paid for the place:
•    The win part of the bet pays (4 X 10) + 10 = £50.
•    The place part of the bet pays only one-quarter the odds of the win; to find the correct odds to calculate the returns you need to multiply the number on the right of the price by four. (If the bet was at 1/5 odds you would need to multiply by five.)
•    So the win odds of 4/1 become place odds of 4/4 (which is evens – 1/1). So the place part pays (1 X 10) + 10 = £20.
•    Total returns are £50 + £20 = £70.
•    If the horse were to come second, the win bet would be lost but the place bet would be won. The returns would be £20.
•    In races where there are four runners or less, it is not possible to bet each way. It is only possible to bet on the winner. If an each-way bet is placed, all the stakes go on the horse to win. This is called all up and is often abbreviated to AU.