There are many weird and wonderful horse racing bets available to punters these days, but don’t be confused or put off if you’re a newcomer – let our beginner’s guide explain everything about how to bet on horse racing!
Whether you’re enjoying your first trip to the races, you’ve received a hot tip from a friend or you just fancy a flutter on the Grand National, you’ll need to decide which of the three betting methods you’re going to use to place your bet: Fixed Odds, Pool Betting or the Betting Exchanges.
Fixed Odds Betting
You’ve perhaps never heard its name before, but it’s pretty likely that you are already familiar with Fixed Odds betting. This particular method of betting simply involves the bookmaker offering you a price on your horse that will determine how much you win if your horse is successful.
So if you are in your high street betting office or visiting your favourite online bookmaker, you will notice odds next to the names of the horses. Once you’ve picked the horse that you want to back, you will be given the odds that were available at the time of placing the bet – this is known as Fixed Odds betting because a fixed price was clearly agreed at the time the bet was struck.
Fixed Odds betting is the most common way to bet on horse racing, but there is another way…
As the name suggests, in Pool Betting, all bets on a horse race are collected into one big “pool” which is shared out proportionally amongst the winners. As nobody knows how much money is in the pool until the start of the race, there are no actual odds quoted (although some pool operators will provide guide prices) and instead, winnings are quoted as dividends.
So to give a simple example, let’s say there’s a three horse race where ten people have bet £1 on horse #1, eight people have bet £1 on horse #2 and two people have bet £1 on horse #3. There is a total of £20 in the pool; if horse #1 wins the race, those ten people will share the pool between them, so they would receive £2 each; if #2 wins, the eight winners will pocket £2.50 each and if horse #3 wins, there will be two winning punters who each take away £10.
Of course, that example is heavy simplified and in reality, the pool operator – known as the Tote in Britain – will take a cut of the pool before distributing any winnings in order to cover their costs.
There are lots of special bets devised by the Tote that make betting on horses fun and interesting and we will discuss these later. You can place these bets through most online bookmakers and high street betting offices, as well as at the racecourse.
Betting Exchanges such as Betfair have changed the way we bet on horse racing. They are predominantly used for Fixed Odds Betting, although they do allow you to bet into the Tote Pool, but they have brought the idea of trading into the equation.
By using the Betting Exchanges, you can place a bet on a horse to win just like a regular Fixed Odds bet, but you can also place a bet on the horse NOT to win too, creating the possibility for a no-lose bet. So for example, if you place a bet on a horse at even money (2.00 in decimal odds) and that price shortens over time to 4/5 (1.80) you would be able to lay the horse at its new odds in order to guarantee profit.
With the Exchanges, you can request whatever odds you like, so if a bookmaker is offering 6/1 about a horse but you want 8/1, you can ask for those odds! If you someone is happy to match your bet, then you will get your bet at 8/1 but if nobody does, you will simply have your stake refunded. You can do exactly the same with lays too, allowing you to take advantage of fluctuations in the odds before the race has even started.
So now you know all about how to bet on horse racing with Fixed Odds bookmakers, Pool Betting operators like the Tote in Britain and with Betting Exchanges!