horse racing explained

Horse Racing Explained

There are 2 popular types of horse racing that take place in Great Britain: these are Flat Racing, and National Hunt Racing. In this ‘Horse Racing Explained‘ article, we explain the difference between these two types of the sport. We also explain what exactly a furlong is (a common term you will hear in relation to the length of horse races).

  • Flat Racing – run on courses where there are no obstacles present (i.e. it is flat). Distances for Flat Racing are between 5 furlongs 2 miles to 2 miles 5 furlongs 159 yards. Some of the best examples of flat races are the Royal Ascot festival, and the five races known as the British Classics – 1,000 Guineas (Newmarket), 2,000 Guineas (Newmarket), The Oaks (Epsom Downs), The Derby (Epsom Downs), and St.Leger (Doncaster).
  • National Hunt Racing – run on courses with obstacles, taking the form of a Hurdles race or a Steeplechase race. They are generally run over longer distances (2 miles to 4 and a half miles) than the Flat Racing mentioned above. The best examples of National Hunt Racing are the Grand National (Aintree) and the Cheltenham Festival.
    • Please note slightly confusingly, there are also National Hunt Flat Races (also known as Bumpers) – which are run under National Hunt rules, but there are no obstacles on the course (13 – 20 furlongs are common distances for these races).
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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(e.g. is the ground heavy or soft, will it be raining or really hot at the time of the race), if any other horses have withdrawn, and if the horse has any issues etc.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

moneyline odds

How do Moneyline Odds work?

We have already explained how to understand the Fractional Odds system used by UK bookmakers, as well as the popular Decimal Odds system. For completeness, we thought we would also explain the ins and outs of Moneyline Odds. This system is popular in the USA, and as such we will use dollars in the examples below (but of course the same principles apply whatever the currency). To understand Moneyline Odds, first look at if the odds are positive or negative. Then, look at the odds. Moneyline Odds are expressed per $100 staked (although of course, you should be able to bet any amount, subject to minimums or maximums).

  • POSITIVE Moneyline Odds show how much profit you will get if your bet wins, for every $100 staked (if you win you will get back your original stake too).
  • NEGATIVE Moneyline Odds show how much you will have to stake, to get $100 profit if your bet wins (if you win you will get back your original stake too).

Let’s look at two actual examples:

  • +500: this means for every $100 bet, $500 profit will be paid if your bet wins (i.e. if your bet wins they will return you original stake of $100, and pay you another $500).
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What are Decimal Odds?

What are Decimal Odds?

Having understood the ins and outs of Fractional Odds (traditionally used by UK bookmakers), we think it will be a useful exercise for you to understand the Decimal Odds system as well. Decimal Odds show how many times your original stake (INCLUDING your original stake) you will get back if your bet wins. Obviously, this number should always be more than 1.0 as you should always get back your original stake if you win, plus some profit. Compare that to Fractional Odds which only show the potential profit you will get back if you win (of course regardless of the odds system, you will always get your original stake back if you win).

Let’s look at some Decimal Odds examples:
6.0 – for every £1 bet you will get £6 back, if your bet wins (i.e. you make £5 profit, per £1 staked). 5/1 (Fractional Odds), and 6.0 (Decimal Odds) are equivalent.
1.2 – for every £1 bet you will get £1.20 back, if your bet wins (i.e. you make £0.20 profit, per £1 staked). 1/5 (Fractional Odds), and 1.2 (Decimal Odds) are equivalent.

Fractional Odds are popular in the UK & Ireland. Decimal Odds are popular in Continental Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.… Read the rest

Each-Way Bet

What is an Each-Way Bet?

The most standard bet you could make is a win bet. You will only make a profit if your selection wins. So, if you make a £5 bet at 7/1 at your favourite bookmaker you will make a £35 profit if your selection wins (and get your £5 stake back, if you win). Another common bet, is an Each-Way Bet. If you place an each-way bet on a single event, you are effectively making two separate bets. One bet is on a win only basis, and one is on a place basis.

  • A place bet, allows you to make a profit if your selection finishes not just first, but also in a certain number of other places (e.g. 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc. depending on what the bookmaker is offering). Usually, you will receive a proportion of the win odds.
  • So, if you have £5 to bet with in total on an Each-Way Bet, you could place a £2.50 each-way bet – this means £2.50 goes on the Win part, and £2.50 goes on the each-way part. Let’s say you bet on an outcome offering 7/1 odds if its wins, and 1/3 the win odds (in this case 7/3) if it places in the top 2.
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fractional odds explained

Fractional Odds explained in detail

Bookmakers in the United Kingdom (and Ireland) usually quote prices using fractional odds (i.e. 5/1, 1/2, etc). How much do you really know about Fractional odds? Fractional odds show how much the bettor can profit, relative to their stake, IF their bet wins. In this article ‘Fractional Odds explained in detail’ we explain everything you will need to know about fractional odds.

  • Fractional odds show the payoff:stake ratio. The left hand number of the fractional odds is the amount of profit you will make IF your bet wins (PAYOFF), and the right hand number is the amount you will have to gamble (STAKE). IF your bet loses, you forfeit the stake. If your bet wins, you get your stake back AND the payoff.
  • 5/1 odds mean that if you bet £1, you will make £5 profit if your bet wins (i.e. if your bet wins the bookmaker will return you original stake of £1 AND pay you £5 profit). Remember, the odds just show a ratio – you don’t have to bet exactly £1. If you bet £2, you make £10 profit if your bet wins. If you bet £60, you make £300 profit if your bet wins.
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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

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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