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Deciding if a bet is worth the risk

Do the maths make sense before you place your horse racing bet?

This is one of the first questions you should ask yourself before considering putting down your stake money. Does the bet provide VALUE? What we mean by this is - the odds offered by a bookmaker are never the "true" odds or probabilities of a horse winning. Who knows exactly what those figures should be? The figures in the odds are more indicative of what the market as a whole (all the punters in the country and beyond) believe is a horse's chance of winning. The figures are driven by market forces. If more people want to back a horse because they think it will win then the bookmakers odds will shorten (reduce). This is as true in the bookmakers' shop as it is on the betting exchanges. However, one factor you can be sure of is that whatever the odds offered about a particular horse, the bookmaker will "balance" his total book so that, over all, he is guaranteed a small profit from the race - or at least from the many races he takes bets on that day. All professional gambling bodies do this. Bookmakers, casinos, bingo halls, the National Lottery, etc. will all stack the odds AGAINST the punter so that even if individuals win individual bets - the "house" wins over all. Bookmakers call this inbuilt advantage their "over round". It means instead of all the odds in a race adding up to 100% they will generally add up to something like 117% - and that extra 17% is in the bookmaker's favour. This is his expected profit margin. So, as your objective should be to try to consistently tip the odds further in your favour, you should be looking out for bets where in the race as a whole the over round is on the low side, i.e. below that typical 17%.

Here's how you do it:
Firstly, express all the odds of the race in European 'digital' format. So for example "evens" is 2.0, "Two to One" is 3.0, etc. (To transform fractional odds to digital, divide the first figure by the second and add one - so 6 - 4 becomes 1.5+1 = 2.5).
Then divide each digital odds price into 100 to give you the percentage figure for each horse. So, for example, with a three horse race with odds:
Horse 1 - 1.8 = 55.55%
Horse 2 - 3.3 = 30.30%
Horse 3 - 4.0 = 25.00%
----------------------------------
                      110.85%

Here, with the total book adding up to about 111 % this shows a lower than average over round. If you find, by using a good selection method, a horse in this race with a good chance of winning then you are more likely to get good value from this bet than in the typical bookmaker race.

The lower the total percentage odds of the race the more the book is in your favour.

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