Fixed odds gambling is betting on an event when you decide to accept a price offered by the bookmaker at any given time. So, you have struck a deal at that price and at that time – no matter what then happens in the market as the price moves.
This differs from betting where you may decide to take the starting price, known as the “SP”, or from Tote or Pool betting (where potential returns aren’t calculated until all bets are on and “pooled” and the event gets underway).
“Fixed odds” betting is the most popular form of gambling in the UK. It is, in effect, a contract between the gambler and the bookmaker, a deal struck at a moment in time with a corresponding price.
In the UK, fixed odds are most commonly expressed as fractions. So, if you think a horse has a one in five chance of winning a race and the odds are quoted by the bookmaker at, say, 9-1, it would be a logical choice for you to make a fixed odds bet and to agree the 9-1. This is because the bookie’s odds are implying that the horse has a one in ten chance of winning the race (literally nine chances against the single one of winning), whilst your own analysis tells you the odds “should” be 4-1. If your £1 gamble is successful in this case at the fixed odds quoted, you will walk away with £10; the £9 you won on the bet and your own £1 back.
Sometimes fixed odds are expressed as decimal odds. Most online bookmakers offer the choice to view the fixed odds available as fractions (as per the example above) or as decimal odds (as are widely used in the rest of Europe outside the UK). These are sometimes known as “European Odds” and are also generally used in Canada and Australia.
Some gamblers prefer decimal odds simply because the numbers quoted tell you what you’ll actually get back from the bookmaker in the event of a winning bet. So, a horse at 9-1 in our example above would simply be presented as 10, and you would get £10 for a £1 stake (i.e. your own original £1 stake is included in the decimalised version).