How to win betting on horses – the one thing you must know
For anyone who has ever taken their betting with any level of seriousness the aim when you set out is to win and be profitable. I’m not going to pretend it is easy, it’s not, but with hard work and a well researched and executed approach then it is possible to win betting on horses.
The underlying principal at whatever form or betting you do, on whatever event you bet on is you must take odds that are greater than the true chance of any outcome happening. This is often referred to as taking ‘value’. If you do this, with correct bank management then in the long term the maths mean that you will win, if you don’t then you will lose.
The simplest way to break this thinking down is a toss of a coin.
There are 2 outcomes, it will either be heads or tails. Each time you toss the coin, it’s a 50% chance of either outcome happening. If you take odds of even money on either, you will be neither profitable or unprofitable. Taking odds of greater or less than even money will determine your fate.
Let me begin by focusing on the approach.
What type of bettor are you?
In today’s betting world you have many different approaches available to you. You may specialise in trading, arbing, matched betting to name but a few.
I bet on the outcome of horse races. I’d describe myself as a position taker. By that I mean I back my opinion, and don’t offset my position as a trader would do. I study past form and base my selection process on this. I have no access to any privileged stable information.
Can you make money trading?
Betting Exchanges opened up the opportunity to trade the sports betting markets. You have the option to both back and lay the same outcome and offset your position to give you either a winning (or losing) position whatever the outcome.
Personally trading doesn’t work for me. I’m quite risk tolerant when it comes to my betting in that I prefer the higher risk and reward that comes with taking a position. Trading is maybe for you if you are more risk averse.
I find I get bored with trying to capture lots of small wins. It just doesn’t suit my makeup, that’s not to say it isn’t a profitable pursuit and for sure there are people who make it pay well for them.
Most of the people who are vocal about their trading appear to be technical traders, acting on how the market is forming and behaving in front of them. For them there is little if any interest to know that a horse is wearing first time headgear or which horse has run the fastest in the past – what I would call the fundamental approach or form analysis.
I do think there’s an opportunity to make money in adopting a fundamental approach to trading. Assessing the price and backing or laying when you believe the market is incorrect, with the intention of exiting your position later.
I see opportunities daily that could be exploited. But as I’ve already said it doesn’t personally excite me to be grinding away for relative small but low risk profits. Maybe one for the future.
How do you begin to find ‘value’?
The difficult part, whatever your approach. How do you establish whether you are taking odds better than the true chance?
You won’t find it with the consensus, you need to be actively looking where the majority are not. You need to find something that isn’t common knowledge. Once it’s in the public domain, money will arrive, the price will shorten and in that instance you go from being profitable (in the long term) to a loser.
A good few years back now, I chanced upon some information that wasn’t common knowledge and was very significant.
I had a Saturday job as a board marker and cashier. It was my friends shop, a one shop independent. One of our customers was a lad who worked in Jack Ramsden’s yard. For those of you too young to remember, his horses were notorious for landing some huge gambles, by all accounts he was a very successful gambler.
The lad only ever bet on the stables horses and infrequently. When he did, his bets were always accommodated, and at the price requested. His stakes weren’t huge £50 – £200. Armed with this info that wasn’t common knowledge, we went in for as much as we could. Prices invariably collapsed, strike rate was high and good money was won..
Nowadays I analyse past performance and try to predict the future from what’s happened in the past. Predicting the future is impossible, predicting with 100% accuracy the outcome of a horse race is impossible. The good news is that it doesn’t matter. You just need to be more right than the masses and consistently take odds that are better than the chance of it happening.
How to win betting on horses – find a niche and become your own expert
Legendary gambler Bill Benter built algorithms that beat the Hong Kong betting markets. Reputedly he had 130 variables in his methodology, a never ending quest to find ‘the’ answer. I struggle to get anywhere near naming what these 130 variables could have possibly been, he is exceptional.
Many study form, but what is form, what do they study. And if everyone is studying the same thing will the market not be influenced, prices move and any advantage lost?
The need to specialise and finding your own niche is key.
I look at a number of variables, but I don’t assign the same value to each. Often the importance of one factor in certain circumstances is the key.
I place a lot of weight on race times and recency. If a horse has run fast in the near past and faster than any of its rivals then I believe this has a much greater significance on the possible outcomes than for example who the jockey is.
Work hard and adapt
You need to be aware that niches will disappear as time advances and people and systems improve.
To share an example of recently when this happened. Up till 2017 there was an edge on betting younger horses against their older counterparts in staying handicaps on the flat at certain times of the year.
The weight for age scale was introduced by Admiral Rous in the 1850’s. The idea was to allow younger immature horses to compete on a level playing field in races with older counterparts by giving them a weight allowance. Not surprisingly his calculations proved to be a little off the mark. More surprising was that it was only as recently as 2017 when the BHA recalculated and brought in the revised scale.
25 years ago the consensus of the betting market seemed oblivious to the advantage the younger horses had. It was a very profitable angle each year which gradually diminished over time as bettors caught on.
Talking from my personal experience its infinitely harder to win betting on horses now, than it was 20 years ago. There’s a lot of very smart people involved in betting markets and they will only get smarter.
The 1 thing you must know to win betting on horses
To win at betting you must obtain value. Whatever your angle, ask yourself for every bet your considering ‘what do I know that the general betting public doesn’t know?’. If the info you are using for your selection process is in the public domain then the market will reflect that and there may not be any value to be had.
The range of opportunities in betting excite me, no one approach is the correct way. The market is constantly evolving but one thing remains constant. Whatever your approach, to be profitable you must take bets at a greater price than the true chance of an outcome happening.