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Bookmakers odds: the types and ways to calculate

What is a betting factor (odds)? This is a numerical way of displaying the probability of an event taking into account the subjective opinion of the bookmaker. Different countries use different forms of displaying quotes, and it does not hurt to know the differences. What types of coefficients exist, what do they mean and how do you calculate the coefficient yourself? Let’s discuss.


It is well known, that the progenitors of modern bookmaking for many centuries successfully conducted their activities on almost all continents, so the different ways to present odds were a great many. However, there are only three main types of performance of coefficients used today: English, European and American. Their similarities and differences, as well as their pros and cons, will be discussed in this article.

English Factor

It is believed that the birthplace of bookmakers as independent companies specializing in the acceptance of bets in “industrial volume” is in England. Therefore, it is quite logical that this country has given the bookmaking world its own type of odds. English coefficients remain extremely popular in our time as they are more indebted to British gambling establishments, faithfully honoring the traditions of their ancestors. 

Almost all modern British bookmakers by default offer exact English odds into their line. English coefficients have a fractional recording format, such as 20/4. This quote shows the ratio of net winnings compared to the size of the bet. That is, at a rate of 4 pounds your net gain (minus the bet amount) will be 20 pounds. How to count such a factor? The English quote 20/4 is similar to the usual 6.0. In order to translate the English coefficient into the traditional decimal form for us, it is necessary to divide the figure in the number of fractions by the indicator in the denominator, and then to the received number to add one. 

Example: 20/4 q 20: 4 q 1 q 6.

European Factor

European odds came to light when the betting business began to gradually move away from the UK to neighboring France, from where the phenomenon rapidly spread across Western Europe. At first, only British offices functioned in Western European countries. However, after a certain amount of time, the British began to face worthy competitors from French and German gambling establishments. 

Most of the new offices found the calculation using the English coefficient to be too difficult. Thus, the European or, as it is now called, the decimal factor was born. At the moment the European coefficient is mandatory (though not always by default) and is presented by all bookmakers in the world without exception. And for many of them, it is the only one used. The European coefficient is written in decimal form – it is traditional for us to use values such as 2.0; 4.3, etc.

How do you count the coefficient? If you take the size of your bet and multiply it by the coefficient, you will get the amount that the bookmaker will have to pay in the case of winning the bet.

American Factor

Perhaps the most difficult to understand are the American betting odds, although you will, of course, be seeing these the most while betting in America. These odds were born in the United States a few years after the country declared independence. The American coefficient quickly took root in local gambling establishments. The main distinguishing feature of the American coefficients is the presence of the “z” or “-“sign in front of the digital indicator. This sign helps you to determine which team is the favorite. The status of favorite is signified by the “-“sign.

Let’s try and deal with American quotes and calculate the coefficient with an example. Take the odds of -105 (favored team). This quote shows that to get a net win of $100, you must bet $105. The equivalent to this factor in the European system is 1.95. 

Now let’s look at the example with a positive factor (unfavored team). Let’s say we want to bet on the coefficient of 110- which means that to make a profit of $110 you need to bet $100. That is it, the American system. Today, only certain bookmakers’ resort to this representation of odds, and they will also always offer English and European coefficients as an alternative.

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