Types of bets

Types of bets

There are many different ways to bet on horses. Some are far easier to win than others, and therefore most bets strike a balance between the potential returns and the probability of winning. Below are listed the most common types of bet and how they work, however you first need to understand the two different types of price.

Early Prices and Starting Prices

When betting with a bookmaker you can normally choose to take either an early fixed price or a starting price (SP). An early fixed price is a price offered before the race and to which you are tied to. The starting price, is the price of the horse at the time the race commences.  Which price you go for will depend on what you think the betting public think of your horse.

For example – an hour before a particular race there may be an early fixed price of 4-1 for Horse A. Whether you choose to take the early price or not will depend on whether you think the horse will be popular in the market or not:

  • If a lot of people think the horse is going to win and place bets on it, the price will come in to maybe 3-1. In this instance it would have been wise to take the 4-1 as a fixed price.
  •  If however another horse in the race proves more popular and the demand for your horse is low, then the price may well drift to 5/1. In this case it would have been wiser to take the starting price (SP)

Depending on how much money you are betting and how much time you have, you could hedge your bets and put half of your stake on early at a fixed price and then the put the other half on at SP.

There are internet sites that help you find the best early prices. www.oddschecker.com will list the prices being offered (real time) on most sports from around 20 bookmakers,  to enable you to compare who is offering the best price – why take 4/1 with your normal bookmaker, when another bookmaker is offering you 9/2? Oddschecker also indicates which horses are coming in in the betting and which are drifting out.

Different Types of Betting

Betting to Win – as the name suggests this is a straight bet, at fixed odds, for your chosen horse to win the race outright.

Betting Each Way – this is effectively two bets.

  • A bet for your horse to win
  • A bet for your horse to be placed 

If your horse wins – you win on both sides of the bet, if it is placed, you will lose the “win” part of the bet, but win on the place part of the bet. 

The odds that you get for a place bet are a percentage of the horse price and the percentage and also the number of places that are regarded as a winning place bet will vary depending upon on the type of race and the number of runners – these are as follows:

All Races

2 to 4 runnersWin only
5 to 7 runners2 places1/4 odds
8 + runners3 places    1/5 odds

Handicap races

12 – 15 runners3 places1/4 odds
16 + runners4 places1/4 odds

Be wary of non runners, it is common for there to be a non runner in a 16 horse handicap race, that means that the place market will then only pay out for 3 places and not 4. This is not the case on Betfair, where the number of places paid out in the place market does not change.

For Example If you bet £10 each way on a horse that was 4/1, in a 12 runner handicap race you could get the following returns

1st Place£10 x 4/1 = £40 for the win part of your bet plus your stake returned
£10 X 1/1 (1/4 of 4/1)  = £10 for the place part of your bet plus your stake returned
Total return = £50 profit and £20 stake returned (£50 Profit)
2nd placeYou would lose your £10 win bet.
£10 X 1/1 (1/4 of 4/1)  = £10 for the place part of your bet plus your stake returned
Total return = £10 profit and £10 stake returned (No profit/loss made)
LostYou would lose your £10 win bet.
You would lose your £10 place bet.
Total return = £0 (£20 loss is made)


Place Bets (Betfair) In Betfair the place market is different, you bet for your horse to finish in a place position (See previous table). It differs to betting each way in that it is a single place bet only, betting for your horse to finish in a place position. There is no “win” part of the bet which would lose if your horse came 2nd. With Betfair if your horses comes first you would receive the same payout as you would if it came 2nd.

In the above example, the specific returns would depend on the odds offered in Betfair, but for illustrative purposes lets say the odds offered were Evens in the place market, and you had  placed your £20 stake in Betfair. If the horse came 1st, 2nd or 3rd your return would be £20 profit and £20 stake returned.

You could therefore say that the Betfair place market is therefore a more averaged return – I.e. – the maximum you can win is £20 regardless of whether the wins the race or is placed. An each way bet returns a maximum of £50 profit if the horse wins, but just returns your stake money should it be placed.

Which is the best method depends on your own attitude to risk and whether you think the horse has a good chance of winning the race or just finishing in the place money

Forecasts / TricastsThis is where you choose the horses that will come first and second (and third) in a race in the correct order. This is obviously a lot harder to do than just pick the winner but the returns are a lot better, as the wins of each bet are rolled up and applied to the next horse..

Reverse Forecasts /Tricasts This is the same as a forecast / tricast but the horses do not have to be in the correct order. The bet is effectively permutations of the straight forecast / tricast (that is, betting all combinations of the forecast / tricast). The stake will be higher for a reverse forecast / tricast.

Accumulators – (Doubles, trebles etc) –  choosing a horse to win in more than one race. These have potentially large payouts depending on how many races are accumulated, but are statistically a lot harder to win and are therefore heavily promoted by bookmakers.

There are various “all combination” types of accumulator promoted by bookmakers, some examples of which are:

  • Trixie3 selections are chosen across 3 different races and then all combinations of doubles and trebles are bet – 3 doubles and 1 treble. You need any 2 horses to win to get a return.
  • Yankeethe same as a Trixie but with 4 selections – 6 doubles, 4 trebles and 1 4-way accumulator. You need 2 horses to win to get a return.
  • Super Yankee / Canadianthe same as a Yankee but with 5 selections – 10 doubles, 10 trebles, 5 four-way accumulators and a five-way accumulator.

There are more of these types of bet – Heinz (6 selections), Super Heinz (7 selections), Lucky 15,  etc. Some people like these types of bet as they see it that you only need two of your selections to win in order to get a return, with the potential to get a big payout should you get a higher amount of winners from your selections.

Statistically though, the chances of getting a high amount of winners is low, so in order to decide whether this type of bet is for you, you need to look at the returns you could receive for getting the minimum amount of winners required for a pick up, and then compare it to the amount of money you are staking and the actual chances of winning.

Scoop 6 The Scoop 6 is a six race accumulator that is run on Saturday, across six chosen races.  For a £2 stake, you choose one horse in each of the six races. If you want more horses in the races then your stake will go up accordingly. The prize of winning the Scoop 6 is usually high, and if it isn’t won one week, will roll over to the next week etc. In this way the prize fund can sometimes achieve many hundreds of thousands of pounds.

In addition to the win fund, there is place fund whereby if your selections are placed in each of the six races you would receive a place dividend.

Should you be lucky enough to win the Scoop 6, there is also a Bonus Fund which the previous weeks winner is able to choose a horse in one specified race, in order to win a bonus amount. If the bonus fund is not won, it is also rolled over to the next week.

Laying Laying is a new concept that came about when Betting Exchanges were launched (See Betting Exchange Section) and has become more and more popular over recent years.

The laying section goes into more detail about laying, however the concept of laying is that you use a betting exchange to act as a bookmaker, offering odds on a fixed amount of your choosing, for a horse to lose. If the horse loses you collect the backers stake money as your profit, if the horse wins, you pay the backer the amount of the stake you multiplied by the odds you offered.

Tradersusing a betting exchange, traders trade both sides of a bet as the price changes, so as to create a profit margin. This means that they may lay a horse for £100 at 2/1 (with a liability of £200) on the expectation that the horse will drift in the market. If the horse went out to 3/1 they could then bet £75 back. By doing so, they are now in a no lose position –

  • If the horse wins – they pay out £200 (£100 @ 2/1) for the lay bet, but win £225 (£75 @ 3/1) for the win bet. Making a profit of £25.
  • If the horse loses – they collect the £100 stake from the lay bet, and lose the £75 win bet. Making a profit of £25.

Obviously the trick of this type of betting is predicting which way a market may move, which comes with knowledge and experience.

Fixed Odds Traders – this is the same as traders, except the trading of the horse is between the bookmaker and a betting exchange to create a profit margin. E.g. taking an early price in the morning of 4/1 with a bookmaker with the expectation that the price will shorten throughout the day, and then laying it back at 3/1 on a betting exchange in the afternoon. A trader may do this if there is not enough liquidity in the exchange market in the morning (see section on Betting Exchanges).

Novice punter Coral free bet for begginers

Value Betting

Value betting uses the philosophy that if you obtain value for money on your bets, in the long run you will come out on top. That is, if a horse is trading at 2/1 but the horses chance of winning in the race actually means that its price should be around 6/4, the 2/1 price is good value, as you are receiving a premium on top of what the horse is worth.

Likewise if a horse is trading at evens and its real value is 3/1, then you are not receiving value. Even if that horse subsequently goes on to win, the return that you receive does not justify the risk of your stake when you balance it against the horses true chances of winning the race.

If you search the web you will find extensive material on the subject of value betting. Mathematical equations that will convert odds into a horses’ chance of winning etc. However, a simple method that can be used, is to watch the live market (the 10 minutes before the race) and monitor how the odds move. The live market is what you could call “the last chance” for the market to find the true price of each horse in the yes of the punter (this may not necessarily match its chance of winning – but is where the laws of supply and demand and “making a book” come into play).

If you time your bets well, as the market moves in you will still be able to find bookmakers that are offering the previous higher price, which will mean that you can quite easily be on the favoured 3-1 horse at a price of 7/2 or 4/1 if you get in quick enough.

Many people run a successful betting plan, on this theory alone, however to be really successful it would really need to be used in conjunction with some sound research on each horse in the market as outlined in the Betting Overview section.

Rule 4 Deductions

Rule 4 deductions are applied to the prices of the winning / placed horses when there are withdrawn horses in the race. The deduction effectively reduces the odds and therefore the return that you get on your bet, on the basis that you have been advantaged by the fact that the withdrawn horse did not run and therefore gave your horse a better chance of winning.

The amount of the rule 4 deduction will depend upon the odds of the withdrawn horse at the time it was withdrawn – an outsider over 14/1 would not have any deduction factor as it was unlikely to impact the race very much. The red hot 2/1 favourite would take out 30p in every pound won, as that horse had a good chance of winning the race and therefore gave your horse a big advantage when it was withdrawn.

Whether the rule 4 deduction would apply to your bet would depend on when you bet your horse and when the other horse was withdrawn. If you took a fixed price on your horse, before the other one was withdrawn you would be affected by the rule 4. If you took a fixed price after the horse had been withdrawn you would not be affected, as the withdrawn horse would already be factored into the new price you took.

If the withdrawn was taken out very late, and there was a not a chance for the market prices to be reformed (E.g. It wouldnt load into the stalls) then a rule 4 could also be applied to the starting price.

For more details about rule 4 deductions, you should check the betting rules of your bookmakers website.

Betfair “Rule 4” Deductions

In the same vein as the above deductions, Betfair apply the same percentages deductions to their bets. However it should be noted that they are applied to the higher (digital odds price) so in actual price terms the deductions are larger. For example.

You have bet £100 on a horse at 8-1 and a withdrawn horse causes a 25p rule 4. Your horse wins.

At a bookmaker your 8/1 will be reduced to 6/1 (25% of 8) and your return will be £600 plus your stake

At Betfair your 8/1 (9.0 digital odds) will be reduced to 5.75 to 1 ( 25% of 9.0 ) and your return would be £575 plus your stake (less commission)

In reality, it maybe that the odds you managed to match at on Betfair were higher than the 8/1 you would have got at a bookmaker and therefore you may still be advantaged to bet with Betfair, but you should be aware of the difference in the deduction rule.