Horse racing is considered one of the world’s oldest sports and among the most recognized sports competition in the world. For decades, the sport has created an atmosphere for family fun and became a platform where betting is prevalent.
Horse race betting provides enthusiasts and bettors thrilling and fun experiences while viewing the high-energy action from the side tracks. Though betting mechanics for horse racing was simple over decades, this is not the case today. It is not only about placing predictions on who will win first; horse race betting in this day has more variations, allowing you to predict which horse takes a specific place.
While placing bets can be straightforward, reading horse racing odds can be intimidating. If you are dancing with the idea of betting on horse races, you first need to understand the intricacies of horse racing betting and odds.
What are horse racing odds?
Horse racing odds reflect the amount of wager you need to pay and how much payout you get if you win the bet. An odd in horse racing betting is written in this format: number-dash-number (2-1); or in the spoken form: number-to-number (two to one). The first number indicates how much you can win in a bet, while the second number details the amount you need to wager. In the example mentioned above, you can read the odd as: for every $1 you wager; you will receive $2 if you win the bet (plus your original stake).
Furthermore, odds are displayed in one of two formats, and it can be in:
- Fraction form (2/1), the traditional and widely used format for horse racing odds among various sportsbooks; or,
- Decimal form (2.00), the most commonly used horse racing betting odd format in Europe. This type of format was recently introduced to the industry.
How to read horse racing odds?
While in most cases betting odds are used to interpret a bet’s likelihood to win, however, this is not entirely accurate in horse racing betting.
In typical sports betting games, you are betting against the house; in contrast, you are betting against other bettors in horse racing betting. Because of this, horse betting odds fluctuate every time a bet is placed – this is called pari-mutuel wagering, or also called pool betting. The odd fluctuates based on public sentiment.
Hence, the more people wagering in on a horse, the lower the horse’s odds and payout. Consequently, horses with fewer backers pay more if they win, as the total wagering pool will be split among fewer winning tickets.
The key to successful horse race betting is to learn how to spot the gaps between public sentiments and reality. Here is how you read horse racing odds:
Read horse racing betting odds published before the actual wagering starts.
Before every race day, track officials publish “morning line” odds, and these are placed in either the program, racing form, or online platform of sportsbooks. While in the past decades, bettors generally go by with the odds; in this digital era, the morning lines are rarely something bettors go by with since these change as more bets are placed.
Keep track of the changing odds.
As horse betting typically is based on public sentiment, it is crucial to keep track of the changes in odds as people bet on each horse until post time. Checking the odds on the tote board at the track or on your online sportsbook can help you weigh whether going with the public or against them improves your chances of winning.
Check the favourites.
Like in other sports betting games, each horse race has a favourite, the horse that is seen to be the most likely winner. When reading odds, you will see an “F” on the horse’s odds, meaning favourite. Accordingly, when there is more than one horse with the same odds of winning, both horses’ odds will have “JF” (joint favourite) displayed with them.
Translate odds to probability percentages.
Though most of the time, horse racing odds cannot be interpreted as an expression of a horse’s likelihood to win a race, you can still check the percentage probability of your chances at winning a bet. To do so, you only need to translate fractional odds to probability percentages.
For example, a race with 1/1 odd signifies that there can be one success for every failure, giving you a 50% probability of winning a bet. Similarly, a 2/1 race odd details that there can be one success for every two failures, suggesting a 33% chance for you to win; a 2/3 fraction means 60% probability; and 10/1 works out to 9% chance.
How to calculate payout odds?
Fraction Horse Racing Odds
To calculate the potential payout when you place a wager on fraction odds, you have to multiply your stake by the fraction odds. The number you determine from your calculation represents your net profit if your bet wins.
The formula for calculating the payout for fraction odds looks like this:
Net profit = (your wager x first number of the fraction odd) / second number of the fraction odd
For example, you will wager $5 on a 3-1 horse odd; this is how the formula will look like: ($5 x 3) / 1. Calculating this will give you $15, which is your net profit.
Moreover, if you want to get your total return, add back your original wager ($5) to your net profit. Therefore, a $5 bet would give you a $15 net profit for a total return of $20.
Decimal Horse Racing Odds
Decimal horse racing betting odds are not the same as fractional odds. Thus, when calculating payouts, the process would be different for the two. Computing payouts for decimal odds is a lot easier than it is for calculating fractional odds payouts.
Your stake is already factored in on decimal odds; hence, computation of payout for decimal odds is more straightforward than fractional odds. You only need to multiply your intended bet by the decimal to determine your total payout if you win the bet.
Subsequently, another difference to note is that odds in fraction or decimal would result in you being paid differently. For a $100 stake on a 2/1 odd, you will get paid $200 in net profits ($300, including your original wager); meanwhile, wagering $100 on a 2.0 odd will provide you a $200 total payout (including your initial stake).
Learning how to read horse racing odds allows you to make better betting decisions, which, in turn, increases your chances of winning a bet. In contrast, if you fail to understand how horse racing betting odds work, you might have higher chances of walking out or ending your betting activity with less money.
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