horse racing form

How can Horse Racing Form be used to make better bets?

When placing a bet with your bookmaker on a horse race, you may see each horse’s form indicated. You can also see horse racing form in newspapers which carry race cards. What do the letters, numbers, and other characters mean?

They tell you how each horse has performed in their most recent races. This may help you decide how each horse will perform in the current race that you are thinking of betting on. The important thing to remember is that the rightmost entry is the most recent race, the 2nd entry from the right is the 2nd most recent race, etc.

A number from 1 to 9, means that the horse finished in that position (a limitation of the form guide, is that it does not tell you how many horses ran in that race). If the horse finished outside of the top 9, the number 0 is shown. If the horse did not finish the race, you will see the reason indicated by one of the following letters: B,F,P,R,S,U which respectively stand for Brought down, Fell, Pulled up, Refused, Slipped up, and Unseated rider. You might also see the following characters: is used to separate years, and / is used to separate racing seasons.… Read the rest

wisdom of the crowd

How does Wisdom of the Crowd affect odds?

  • Wisdom of the Crowd refers to the phenomenon that a large number of individuals in a group, will usually be able to make better decisions than any individual in that group.
  • For example, at a funfair say their was a big jar with an unknown amount of marbles. People were asked to guess the number of marbles (with the closest getting a prize). If you took all the guesses and averaged them (provided there was a sufficient number of people in the group) it would usually come close to the actual number of marbles in the jar. Obviously, the more people who participated the closer to the actual number you would get.
  • This happens, because individual noise is filtered out.
  • In the case of betting odds, Wisdom of the Crowd also has an effect as bookmakers are forced to lower prices getting a lot of betting action (and increase prices not getting a lot). So, highly backed outcomes get their prices lowered, and less well back outcomes get their prices increased.
  • However, for Wisdom of the Crowd to work people have to be making rational and independent decisions. In the case, of marbles in the jar at the funfair this may be the case.
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sports betting bankroll management

Why is Sports Betting Bankroll Management essential?

Diligent sports betting bankroll management can be the difference between winning sports bettors, and those who are destined to lose all their money.

Here’s an example:

  • Let’s say that you have £1,000 to gamble with in total in your sports betting account with a bookmaker, but cannot replenish this money if you lose.
  • Let’s say you were betting on an event with only two possible outcomes, and the bookmaker was offering 6/5 on outcome 1, and 1/2 on outcome 2 (this is a made up example).
  • Let’s say according to your value bet calculations, you thought the true odds of each outcome was 1/1 – i.e. there is a 50% chance of outcome 1, and a 50% chance of outcome 2.
  • Of course you would want to bet on outcome 1, as you are getting better odds than required. You would never bet on outcome 2, as you are getting worse odds than required.
  • If you bet £1,000 on outcome 1, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the bet in terms of value. After all, you will be making £1,200 profit if outcome 1 happens!
  • However, what if outcome 2 happens? 50% of the time it will, and you will lose your stake of £1,000.
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avoid arbitrage betting

Why should you avoid Arbitrage Betting?

Numerous websites and software tools have popped up which claim to allow you to spot guaranteed profitable betting opportunities, by taking advantage of the differing prices on outcomes in the same market between different bookmakers. We explained how you could start to find the best value markets at your favourite bookmaker. This involves working out the overround on a particular market. The lower the overround the better. However, these websites and tools take this a step further, and claim to be able to find opportunities (by placing bets at multiple bookmakers, on different outcomes in the same market) when there will effectively be no overround, and in fact the book will be less than 100%. This is called arbitrage betting. We strongly recommend you avoid arbitrage betting. Although, the opportunities they spot will be real (if you are using a reputable service), we still recommend you avoid this form of betting. There is usually a fee involved to use these services, and even though the opportunities to make a profit might be there in theory, in practice they are difficult to profit from.

Why avoid arbitrage betting? Your account may be closed, or bets revoked.

  • Bookmakers generally hate arbitrage betting.
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value betting gut instinct

Why is Value Betting superior to using Gut Instinct?

If you keep placing bets on outcomes of events, just because you fancy teams/players to win (Gut Instinct), without considering the odds fully then you will likely be losing money in the long run. Value betting involves independently considering if the odds offered are better than the true probability of the outcome happening, and only placing bets if that is the case. Let’s start our Why is Value Betting superior to using Gut Instinct? article off with an example:

Let’s say you are considering placing a bet in an event in which there are two outcomes only, e.g. the final of a competition where either team/player A wins, or team/player B wins (no draws possible). You need to calculate the true probabilities of the outcomes. This requires taking into account a lot of factors (prior results, injuries, officials, form etc. – variables will depend on what event you are betting on), and coming up with a statistical model (which may require, amongst other things weighting the factors).

Let’s say you calculate A wins two-thirds of the time, and B wins one-third of the time:
Two-thirds of the time is the same as odds of 1/2*, i.e. for every 1 time they don’t win, they will win 2 times.… Read the rest

starting price

Is it preferable to take the Starting Price?

When you place a bet on a horse race, instead of taking the fixed odds price on offer you might be able to place a bet at an unspecified Starting Price. Sometimes for future races, which haven’t been priced up by your selected bookmaker, you can only place a bet at the Starting Price (SP).

When you place a bet at the SP, you do not know in advance what odds you are getting! So, why on earth would you want to take this option? Odds on horses can fluctuate, in the build up to the race. When the race start time comes closer, it is clearer what the conditions will be like (e.g. is the ground heavy or soft, will it be raining or really hot at the time of the race), if any other horses have withdrawn, and if the horse has any issues etc. Odds can thus fluctuate for many reasons, including the amount being bet on a horse. So, with lots of money coming in, the price is likely to go down and vice-versa. In the UK, a panel decides the starting price (it should be the same regardless of which bookmaker you use), based on how they view the fluctuations of prices.… Read the rest

handicap horse racing

How does Handicap horse racing work?

In Handicap horse racing, the better horses are given a disadvantage. Conversely, the worse horses are given an advantage. This is done by making the horses carry different weights. A handicapper decides the weight (this weight is known as the impost) each horse should carry. The total weight of the jockey, saddle, and weights (lead) will equal the impost. The weights are carried in lead pads (saddle pads). In Great Britain, there is a central system, operated by the BHA who assign weights. Weights can change (e.g. be increased if a horse wins a race). The most famous handicap race in the world is of course the Grand National. Another example is Australia’s Melbourne Cup.

So, if the horses have been handicapped, how do you go about picking a winner?

  • You could look at the horses form (e.g. past performances, giving more weight to recent performances).
  • You could look at the ability of the jockey.
  • Also look at the condition of the ground. If it has been raining recently, the ground may be soft. If there has been a lot of sunny/dry weather the ground may be hard. How do the horses in the race perform under the expected condition of the ground?
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national hunt racing

What is National Hunt Racing?

In National Hunt Racing, there are obstacles* on the course (as opposed to Flat racing, where there are not). The two most iconic and well-known horse races of any kind held in Great Britain, the Grand National and the Grade 1 Cheltenham Gold Cup, are National Hunt races.

  • The majority of the National Hunt races in Great Britain take place in the winter months, rather than summer. There is a good reason for this, as the race courses should be softer in winter (as of course there should be more rain). As horses have to jump obstacles, this makes it a lot less dangerous than in the summer months.
  • National Hunt racing can take the form of either hurdles or steeplechases.
  • In hurdles races the obstacles the horses must jump are hurdles. There will be a minimum of eight hurdles in any race. These hurdles have a minimum height of three and a half feet. The races are between two to three and a half miles.
    • A well known example of a National Hunt hurdles race is the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, which is a Grade 1 race – this race is the first race on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival.
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