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The Bluffer’s Guide to Horse Race Betting - Slosh Spot

The Bluffer’s Guide to Horse Race Betting

The Sport of Kings, as it is known in the UK, can sometimes seem like something of a closed club. It’s appropriately named – Queen Elizabeth herself is renowned for her love of horse racing, and there was almost a constitutional crisis in 2017 when the State Opening of Parliament clashed with Royal Ascot.


But you don’t need royal blood in your veins to enjoy a day at the races. Getting your head around the different types of bets and understanding the racing betting odds isn’t as hard as it might look from the outside once you’ve mastered some simple basics. Whether you’re rubbing shoulders with royalty, enjoying the two minutes of madness at the Kentucky Derby or simply checking out the action at your local track, the following tips will help you place the right bet like a right royal pro.

What are the odds?

Everyone has an intuitive understanding of odds, but ask them to explain it and it becomes a different matter. In short, the odds tell you how much money you will win in return for your stake. Fractional odds, which are most common when you visit UK bookmakers, tell how much you win, but do not include the stake, which you also get back. So for example, if you bet $10 at 3/1 and the horse wins, the bookmaker pays out $30 in winnings, and also returns your $10 stake, so you get $40 back in total. With decimal odds, the stake is also included. So the decimal equivalent of 3/1 is 4.00.

Betting to win

This is the simplest bet of them all, and is the type of bet we used to illustrate the odds. You place your bet, and if the horse wins, so do you. If it comes anywhere other than first, though, you get nothing. 

Each way bets

This is the second most popular type of bet. However, the first thing you need to understand is that it is actually two bets. You are placing one bet on the horse to win and another on it to “place” – placing generally means coming second or third, but it can vary between races. In this case, you get 25 percent of the odds back, plus your stake, if the horse places. This is a popular type of bet in races where the favorite is at short odds to win – far better to put your money on a longshot to place. 

Try a tricast

The each way bet is a good way of protecting yourself. You stand a better chance of a win, although it is unlikely to be a large amount of money. The tricast takes the opposite approach. Here, you need to accurately predict the top three, and you have to get them in the right order. Few bettors succeed in tricasts, but when they do, the rewards can be huge, as the odds are essentially multiplied together.

Double, trebles and accumulators

This type of bet is particularly fun if you are attending a race meeting with several races. A double means betting on two horses in two races. To win, you need both horses to come first. Trebles take the same approach with three horses, and so on. The more horses in your accumulator, the longer the odds, but the bigger the potential win.

There are numerous variations on these themes, but get to grips with the above principles, and everything else will naturally fall into place. Enjoy the racing, and good luck! 

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