Betting For Beginners

A guide to betting for beginners

Who doesn't want to earn a few pounds and enjoy a wonderful sport with a rich history? If this sounds like you, then maybe you should try horse racing? 

George Washington race horseGeorge Washington race horse

No, we don't mean becoming a jockey although you're more than free to try your hand at that.

We mean betting on the races. Yes, this might be something your dad or granddad did, but this doesn't make it any less fun.

Horse Racing is quite the spectacle. Hundreds or even thousands of others will be with you.

The atmosphere will be full of excitement, and unlike a football match you don't have to worry about any rowdy fans spoiling the fun for you or anyone you might want to bring along.

Of course, you don't have to bet on the races either and can just have a good time with friends and family.

If you are interested in betting however, then we have some tips for your first time at the races!

Tips on Betting For Beginners

Betting for beginners is quite simple and there isn't much complexity to it. Depending on the odds stacked against your horse it is possible to win a big payout. 

Normally the minimum bet when betting on the exchanges, such as Betfair, is £2. 

Suppose you place a £2 bet on a horse with odds of 1/9. As the exchanges use decimal odds this translates to 1 divided by 9 equals 0.11. 

If the horse wins, to calculate your payout just multiply your stake by the decimal odds i.e. 2 x 0.11 = 0.22. 

£0.22 is your profit and as your stake of £2 is returned then you will receive £2.22, known as the payoff.

Obviously the greater the odds, the more the return and depending on how you bet, which we'll discuss in greater detail, the betting might be completely different.

Much Macho Man wins the Breeders Cup ClassicMuch Macho Man wins the Breeders Cup Classic

For horse races, the money you bet is guaranteed to be returned with your profit if your horse wins. 

If your horse loses, then you won't get paid and you lose your stake. 

Until you gain experience at betting on the racecourse, it is best to keep your stakes low to avoid large losses.

Modern technology available to punters, whether betting on-course, online or at bookmakers, makes for easy deposits and withdrawals, including many sites that accept PayPal.

Can You Win Big at The Races?

Yes, but it's unlikely as you will need to risk large stakes on horses with reasonable odds. And even short priced favourites can often lose.

The horses with the best chance of winning are ridden by exceptional jockeys riding for successful trainers.

Consequently the odds will usually be low.

Betting on the underdog can be profitable, although you'll want to follow their career closely.

Take notes on when they win and when they lose; which races they usually contest, etc.

When you start to see a pattern, you can start planning your bets more carefully.

Racegoers at Royal AscotRacegoers at Royal Ascot

Is It True Horse Races Are Rigged?

Unless it's a very shady racecourse, no. Rigged racing is illegal in Britain (the Gambling Commission regulates betting in the UK) and throughout the world.

If you ever hear about a race being rigged in favour of an unlikely horse, take it with a pinch of salt or just ignore it all together. Chances are that "hot tip" is fake news.

How Do You Place Your Bet? What Type of Bets Are There?

Placing your bet is very easy. Most racetracks will have Totepool kiosks, Betting Rings, and Betting Shops. The payouts will be different depending on where you go, but universally two pounds is the minimum amount you can bet. 

Totepool Kiosks and How to Win

Totepools are similar to a lottery.

The results are based not on betting against a bookmaker, but instead all bets on a race are pooled and the payout is based on the number of winning bets and the size of the pool.

To bet, all you need do is complete your bet slip with the number of your horse and how much you want to bet. Easy!

On Course BookmakersOn Course Bookmakers

Betting Rings and How to Win

Betting rings involve placing a bet against a bookmaker.

Tell them which horse you want to bet on and whether you want to bet on "Win" or "Each Way".

We'll explain that in a moment, so don't worry. The bookmaker will have their minimum bets listed, as well as maximum bets.

Betting Shops and How to Win

The most traditional way to bet, here you write down on a slip on which horse you want to win, how they'll win, and which race. After the race, if you win, you take your slip back and claim your reward! 

Types of Bets

When deciding on your stake, which is essentially your bet, you'll need to know what type of bet you're willing to make. 

Win Bets

These are simple; does your horse win or not? In the case of a dead heat with one other horse your winnings will be halved.

Place Bets

Requires your horse of choice to finish either first or second.

Show Bets

Your horse has to finish either first, second, or third. This is the easiest and safest bet to make.

There are of course more exotic and complex bets, but we'll save those for later. After all, your first time at the races shouldn't be all about betting. 

It should be about enjoying the races! It's no fun if all you're interested in is winning big and not enjoying the sport and appreciating the rich history behind it.

Always be sure to read up on the horses before placing your bets, and above all else make sure you have fun!

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Above policies updated 15 March 2018