Many fans of horse racing might be surprised to discover that horse race betting in the UK works very differently than it does in the US. One area where the difference is apparent is betting odds. Betting odds are what determine the price a bettor can make from placing a wager. In the UK the fans who attend live racing have an opportunity to deal with actual bookmakers to negotiate better betting odds.
What Are UK Horse Race Betting Odds?
In every racing jurisdiction around the world betting odds serve the same purpose. They determine how much reward is given for the bettor’s risk. The longer the odds, the greater the reward and the more risk. Horses that are offered at higher odds are perceived to be less talented or capable of winning a race than their competitors. Horses offered at low odds are favorites and other horses that the bookmakers and bettors believe have a decent chance of winning.
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Odds start at even money, which is 1-1 in betting lingo. This means that the bettor will be paid an amount equal to their wager if the horse wins. In theory, a $2 bet will return $4 – the $2 original wager plus an equal amount of profit. We say this is theoretical because the return is always a little bit less than the true odds would indicate. The reason for this is something known as take and breakage. Take and breakage are what allows the race track to stay in business. Collectively referred to as the takeout, take and breakage also go toward paying purses for the races.
In the US the takeout is figured at a specific percentage depending on the bet type. Straight wagers may have a takeout rate of 17% while some exotic wagers could have a takeout of 20% or more. This percentage is deducted from the total pool before the winnings are paid out. So, if a race had a take out of 20% and the pool contained $100,000, the amount of $20,000 would be deducted for the track’s portion. This leaves a pool of $80,000 to be split amongst the winning bettors.
In the UK there is also tote board or pool betting in addition to the betting offered by bookmakers. This type of betting also uses a takeout. Totepool is a UK company that is tasked with managing betting pools for some of the country’s largest race tracks. The company recently made headlines by announcing that it would be raising the UK takeout on straight win wagers to a whopping 22%. As you can imagine, not too many bettors were very pleased with this announcement. A larger deduction from the pool means that less money is being returned to bettors.
The important thing to glean from this information is that bettors in the UK face the same challenges as US bettors when they participate in tote board or pool betting. They are trying to get the best odds on a horse, but those betting odds can be diluted when the takeout rises to astronomical proportions. There have even been organizations in the US which have been started to protest the rising takeout rates.
Betting Odds in the UK and Bookmakers
Those who choose to make wagers at UK horse racing tracks with a bookmaker can sometimes be in a more advantageous position where the betting odds of horses are concerned. Unlike the tote board betting, the odds when betting with a bookmaker are not affected by things such as takeout. The bookmaker has the sole authority to negotiate the odds on each horse that they are willing to give. A horse in a race that is offered at 3-1 on the tote board might be offered at 5-1 by the bookie. Some bettors see this as an opportunity to increase their chances at making a nice profit.
Of course, all that glitters is not gold. Bookmakers are shrewd businessmen. If they were not shrewd they would not be in business. Some of them are students of the game, able to identify the true odds at which a horse should be offered. One has to also remember that the point of being a bookie is to make money. In other words, the bookmaker cannot lose money and stay in business. That wouldn’t be betting. That would be charity.
Bookmakers must always arrange things so that they are guaranteed a profit on each race. This arrangement is what factors heavily into the odds that a bookie is willing to offer. The bookmaker must consider the total money that is being bet on a race and where it goes. If a large portion of money is being laid on a certain horse, the bookmaker knows that they must book an equal amount of money on other horse to cover the losses if the popular horse wins. No one can say for sure what type of algorithm a bookie uses to make this determination – most keep their secrets closely guarded – but just know that the odds you are being given are calculated. If the bookie seems to be generous, think again.
How to Know You Are Getting Proper UK Horse Racing Odds
Smart handicappers begin their process of betting a race by making a determination of the odds that they should receive on a specific selection. Once your handicapping is complete you should know what the correct odds on a horse are. This is an educated guess, of course, but that is basically what handicapping is. You are making a projection of what you think will happen and the probability that your projection will be correct.
Once you have determined what you believe the odds on a certain horse should be, you can then compare those odds with the ones that are being offered by a bookmaker or by the betting pool as indicated on the tote. Remember to adjust for takeout if you are prepared to accept the betting odds on the tote.
The ways this works is simple. You have determined that the horse you like in a race should be at odds of 5-1. You see that the horse is taking money on the toteboard and is currently being offered at odds of 3-1, far less than what you believe should be your just reward. You then decide to check out the odds that are being offered by the bookmakers on your chosen horse. You find a bookie that is willing to give you odds of 6-1. You would then make this bet because the bookie is offering you the better deal.
UK Racing Odds and Online Racebooks
When you bet the UK horses at an online racebook like EZ Horse Betting recommends, you can employ the same procedure. Online racebooks only offer pool betting so you will not have the opportunity to deal with a bookmaker. You will have to use the line that you have created to make a decision about whether or not you are getting the right odds.
If you stick to the strategy of only betting when you have an advantage in the odds, your chances of being a successful handicapper are going to go way up. You will be forced to pass some races when the odds are not right, but this is better than risking your money when you are not being given a fair chance. Think about it this way. Would you bet $1.00 against another person’s bet of $0.50 on a coin flip? Of course you would not because you know that the correct odds for the bet are 50-50, or 1-1. If you accepted anything less than 1-1 odds you would be on a fool’s errand.
Are you ready to try your hand at some exciting UK horse racing action? All you need to do is create an account with one of the online racebooks that we recommend. You will be able to get free past performances to help with your handicapping, and you will also receive a nice welcome bonus on your first deposit. Best of all, you can bet on UK horse racing from the US by using your computer, phone, or tablet.
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