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How to Understand Different Types of Horse Betting Odds

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Are you a first-time bettor? If so, you should be aware that before you venture into horse race betting, you must learn how to read and interpret odds, or the numbers indicating the likelihood of a bet to win and how much money you stand to gain from any given wager. Without knowing what these numbers mean, you might double the risk of losing every bet you make.

Odds could appear quite complex to an observer or beginner who is not yet familiar with the numbers. But, once you comprehend the various nuances of horse racing odds, you will be able to use them to make informed betting decisions. Thus, if you truly want to bet on horse racing, the first step to getting started is understanding how odds work.

Different Horse Betting Odds

When betting on horse racing, you should know that the actual odds can be expressed in various ways. For example, they can be presented in either fractional or decimal format and in the American style.

Fractional Odds

As the name suggests, these types of odds are written out in a fractional form. So even though this format might not be as simple as the other two, once you get used to it, it’s unquestionably a format that is both quick and simple to understand.

Fractional odds show the relationship between the amount won and the amount bet. For instance, a listing in a fractional form shows 6/1 or 6-1 odds. This would indicate that for every $1 you bet, you win $6. Therefore, if you wager $5 on a horse with odds of 6/1 and you win, you will receive $35 ($5 x 6 plus the initial wager).

Here are some other examples for better understanding:

Decimal Odds

These odds are less complicated to comprehend than conventional fractions and offer a greater variety of betting opportunities, that’s why many bettors used them extensively online and worldwide. 

In contrast to fractional odds, your wager is already factored into these odds, which are formatted as 5. These odds are listed as a single number, representing the amount a $1 winning wager would obtain. 

For example, if the odds are displayed as 6.00, a winning wager will result in a $5 profit and a $1 return on the initial wager. Anything from one and two is the most popular wager, and two would be an even wager.

Moreover, multiplying the odds by your wager will give you an estimate of your potential return. For example, if the odds are displayed as 5.00, you would multiply this number by your bet to determine the potential returns.

American Style

American odds, also known as money line odds, are the odds most commonly used by online sportsbooks that cater to bettors based in the United States. Most people find it easier to understand American odds, which are shown with positive (+) and negative (-) signs to show either how much you need to bet to win $100 or how much you’d win for every $100.

The negative symbol is appended to favorites — the greater the value, the greater the likelihood of winning the wager. For example, a -300 favorite has a greater chance of winning than a -220 favorite. Moreover, underdogs are marked with a plus sign — the greater the underdog, the larger the number. Thus, a +300 underdog has a greater chance of winning than a +600 underdog.

American odds always employ a $100 base value. For instance, a -145 favorite indicates that you must wager $145 to win $100 at the sportsbook. Therefore, you either lose $145, win $100, or tie. A +450 underdog means you must wager $100 to win $450. You could either end up losing $100 or win $450. You could also have a push.

Other Horse Racing Odds

In addition to these odds, a few others pertaining to horse racing that you should be able to read. The following are listed below:


Converting odds expressed in fractions to percentages of a probability is very simple. Therefore, a race with odds of 1/1 would indicate that for every loss, there’d be one win, providing you a 50 percent chance of success.

The fraction 2/1 indicates one likelihood of victory for every two unsuccessful attempts, equating to a probability of 33 percent. If the odds are 3/2, there is a 40% chance; if they are 2/3, there is a 60% chance; if they are 10/1, there is a 9% probability, and so on.

Morning Line

Before any betting takes place, the “morning line” odds are presented. The track’s handicapper set these odds for each horse. You can find these odds on your sportsbook’s website or the racing form. However, as more wagers are put in today’s horse racing, the morning lines are no longer a reliable guide.


Every race has a clear-cut winner. This is the horse with the best chance of winning. Moreover, JF or joint favorite might well be expressed if there are multiple horses with the same probability of getting a win.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to interpret odds is essential for sports betting. If you can’t interpret the odds, you’ll never learn if you are receiving a good deal or what your potential gains may be. Thus, this article is a great place to start if you’re interested in learning more about horse betting odds.

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