The point of sports betting is simply to score more than your opponents, but there are subtleties involved that can be difficult to discern. Experienced sports bettors know how to place bets in order to maximize their odds of winning, and newbie gamblers have no choice but to play the odds and hope for the best.
Horse Betting Basics
Before you can place a bet on horses, you have to learn a few things about them. Most importantly, you need to determine how far each horse will run. This is called their distance or metric (the measurement that determines how far a horse will run). You also need to establish the initial (or starting) price for each horse, which is the price at which you’ll bet if you’re winning, and the final (or finishing) price, which is the price at which you’ll lay an (unexceeded) losing wager. For example, if you’re backing a three-year-old colt named Midnight Runner, and the starting price for a $100 wager is $40, then your final price will be $60 (assuming you win).
In addition to the basic information about the horse, such as its distance and starting price, you will need to know the form (also known as the race type) of each race. There are five different forms of horse racing, listed here with their descriptions:
- Formula: The race is over a set number of miles, often a mile and a half or a mile and a quarter. The format varies from race to race, but often includes something like a series of 30- or 40-lap heats, with the winning driver or team receiving points.
- Steeplechase: The race is over a set distance, typically a mile and a quarter to a mile and a half. The race proceeds in a serpentine fashion, with the first five horses to pass a given marker being declared the first five finishers. The last three or four laps are often the most exciting as the pace quickens and the competition for positions becomes fierce.
- Mile: The race is a mile long. Typically run on an oval course, the race includes a number of turns and straightaways.
- Half-mile: The race is half a mile long. Typically run on a rectangular course, the race includes a turn at the end that leads back to the starting gate.
- Coyote Ugly: As the name implies, this is a race for dogs, and is sometimes known as the Obedience Trial or Obedient Dog Race. The half-mile course is circular, with the contestants being judged based on how well they obey commands (such as “sit” and “stay”) given by the human trainer. This is probably the most popular of all the races due to its quirky name and unusual setting (usually a dog park or pet store) but it’s still essentially a standard mile or a half-mile race
- Duel: Two horses, or dogs, face off in a race to the end. Sometimes called the “little sister” of the Obedience Trial, the Duel is a simple but thrilling competition to see which animal can outrun or outwit the other. The first animal to reach the end is considered the winner. The concept is the same as in the Obedience Trial, except that it’s usually a straight fight to the death.
How to Place a Bet on Horses
Once you have the basics down, it’s time to place your first bet. First, decide how much money to wager. Once you have that settled, it’s time to place your bets. Place a wager on each of the five races listed above. Assuming you’re betting on a long-shot, it’s usually best to lay a smaller wager on each race (e.g., $2 on each of the five races). If you’re feeling lucky, you can go all the way and place a $10 wager on all five races.
As you might imagine, the odds are always in your favor when betting on a long shot. The key to successful long-shot betting is to keep layering your wagers, continuing to bet until either you lose or the money runs out. If you’re feeling lucky, you can always double or even triple up by placing successive bets with slightly higher stakes. For example, you can place a $2 bet, and if you win, you’ll be credited with a $4 bonus payout (assuming the max bet is $10).
When to Place a Bet on Horses
The best time to place a bet on a horse is when there’s still a lot of action (literally) in the game. This is because, as exciting as the races can be, they usually come with a lot of action (i.e., bets) already on the board. Therefore, you’ll have the best chance of getting a decent return on your wager.
However, this also means that you’ll have to wait until the end of the race to find out whether or not you won. If you’re betting on the outcome of a particular race, then you can place your wager at any time during the race, but you may have to wait until the end to find out if you won or lost.
What To Look Forward To
Apart from the fact that betting on horses is fun, offering potentially lucrative winnings, there are a number of other things you can look forward to from time to time. For instance, sometimes the odds for a certain horse in a given race are adjusted after the race has been run (this happens sometimes after early scratching or injuries occur). You’ll also need to keep an eye out for jockey changes, which can affect the odds of certain horses in a given race. A jockey change occurs when a rider (usually a jockey) switches horses during the race, oftentimes with a new mount being brought on during the latter stages of the race. These sorts of things make horse betting something of an exercise in patience.
That being said, the fun of sports betting doesn’t have to end with your first betting experience. You can continue to play any time you like, and if you do well at it then eventually you’ll be able to place bets on sports that you’re more familiar with. For example, if you’re a fan of golf then you can place bets on the outcome of golf tournaments or the performance of individual golfers. Some bookmakers will even allow you to place bets on mixed sports, such as basketball and baseball, or even on multiple sports in the same day if you’re feeling lucky.