Horse racing, along with the gambling that goes alongside it, has had a long, varied and sometimes uncomfortable history in American culture. But like other types of gambling, the rise of online sportsbooks and casino sites has been instrumental in changing attitudes and leading to a greater acceptance, both from a social and a regulatory perspective, of placing a wager.
Increased acceptance brings greater popularity, and with every passing month, there are more people logging on to their website of choice to back the horses. Bearing that in mind, we have put together some first-principle tips on horse race betting.
Understanding the odds
We have all heard of backing a 25/1 shots, or a favorite being 3/4 on, and we think we know what it means – but let’s be clear. 25/1 means that for every dollar you bet, if you win, you will make a $25 profit. In other words, you will get your stake back, plus $25. When a horse is “odds on,” it essentially means the bookmakers think it is highly likely to win. A 3/4 bet means that every $4 betted will only bring a $3 profit if you win. Of course, you will still get your stake back, so there is nothing inherently wrong with backing an odds-on favorite.
Picking your winner
Some racing fans study the form for hours every day; others pick a horse because they like the name. As long as you accept that the former will take lots of time and the latter is unlikely to win you money, either of these approaches is fine. But the best plan is always to ask an expert. The internet age means there are plenty of online tipsters, and you can look up today’s racing tips at the RacingTips website. Here, you will also find useful inside information about upcoming races, and even some advice on which bookmakers are offering the best deals.
Each way betting
So far so good, but there is more to horse race betting that simply picking a winner. Many tipsters will recommend placing an each way bet as a more reliable way of seeing some return on your stake. Essentially, you are placing two separate wagers with an each way bet – one for the horse to win and another for it to “place” which means coming in 1st, 2nd, 3rd or sometimes 4th, depending on the race. Placing pays out at either 1/4 or 1/5 of the winning odds. It is easiest to show by example.
Suppose there are eight runners, and the place terms are three places at 1/5 odds. You place a $5 each way bet on Horse X at 20/1 odds.
This means you are actually backing the horse at $5 at odds of 20/1 for it to win and $5 at odds of 4/1 (20/5) for it to place in 1st, 2nd or 3rd. So your total stake is $10.
If Horse X wins, you win $5 at 20/1 + $5 at 4/1 = $100 + $20 = $120 profit.
If Horse X finishes 2nd or 3rd you lose the $5 win stake but win $5 at 4/1 = $20, meaning a net profit of $15.