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Beginner's Guide To Betting









So you are new to racing and betting and a bit confused as to all these betting terms.

Don't worry I was too at one stage.

Surprisingly your lack of knowledge may be an advantage! By following the advice on this site you will pick up a lot of good habits from the start.

There are many who have been betting on the wrong things for too long to change their ways.

Ask any driving instructor and I am sure he will tell you that the hardest pupils to teach are those who think they know how to drive already!

Below are some questions I have been asked in the past. This list will grow as  people contact me with more.  Click on the question to go to the answer or simply scroll down the page to read the full guide.

What are odds?
What does odds on mean?
What does SP mean?
What is an accumulator?
What does "Each Way" mean?

What is Betting Tax?



What Are Odds?

The odds of a bet tell you how much you would win if you placed a winning bet on the horse.

Odds of 3/1  (three to one) for example mean that you would win 3 for every 1 staked.

Simply multiply the odds by the amount staked to calculate your winnings.

e.g. 5 at 3/1 = 5*(3/1) = 15 won   or

5 at 6/4 = 5*(6/4) = 7.5 won.

i.e. winnings = stake * odds

Don't forget that you also get your original stake back should you win.

Therefore the total you should get back from your bookmaker for the above examples are;

5 + 15 = 20     or

5+ 7.5 = 12.50

This is called the return.

Return = stake * (1 + odds)

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What Does Odds On Mean?

Odds on simply means that the amount you win will be less than your total stake should your horse win. This situation often arises if one particular horse in the race is judged to be greatly superior to the rest. It is also very common in soccer betting.

Odds of 4/6 are odds on because if you bet on this you could win only 1*(4/6) = 67p for every 1 staked. Plus of course you would also get back your original stake.

Winning and Returns are calculated in exactly the same way as described under the "What Are Odds?" section.

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What Does "SP" Mean?

The SP or Starting Price is the odds available on a horse at the start of a race.

The SP is set by taking a rough average of the odds offered by the various bookmakers at the racecourse at the time the race starts.

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What is an Accumulator?

An accumulator or multiple bet is a bet on two or more horses winning their races.

A double for example requires two horse to win . Should your first horse win then your second selection looses guess how much you get back. That's right not a penny !

Look at the following example to see how to calculate your winnings from a win double bet.

Horse A        Odds 3/1

Horse B        Odds 2/1

10 Win Double

Now what this bet says to the bookmaker is ....I want a 10 win bet on Horse A at 3/1 and if this wins then I want to bet all the money I get back including my original stake on Horse B at 2/1.

Remember if one horse looses so do you. However assuming you are lucky your winning are calculated as below.

Return = Stake*( 1 + Odds A) * (1 + Odds B)

i.e. Return = 10 * (1+3) * (1+2)     =     10 * 4 * 3 = 120

Subtracting your original stake of 10 you have won    110


Trebles and fourfolds work exactly the same way except that instead of two horses being required to win you need 3 or 4. Returns are worked out in a similar fashion i.e. for a treble:

Return = Stake*( 1 + Odds A) * (1 + Odds B) * (1 + Odds C)


IMPORTANT You may think that this seems a good way to make big profits from small stakes. This is the trap that most mug punters fall into. It is exactly the way the bookmakers would like you to think!

For reasons that I do not wish to fully explain here you are better off sticking to single bets only. As a general rule using doubles and trebles etc. gives the bookmaker an increased mathematical advantage.

Remember this one fact and you are already ahead of the average guy in the shop. Stick to Singles Where Possible !

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What Does "Each Way" Mean?

An each way bet is really two separate bets. The first bet is a standard win bet. The second is a bet that your selection will get a place.

e.g.  10 each way  = 10 to win and 10 to get a place.

Total staked = 20

Obviously a horse is much more likely just to get a place than it is to win. The place section of the bet is therefore paid out at reduced odds. These are normally either 1/5 or 1/4 of the win odds.

The number of places available and the place payout factor are determined by two criteria. These being the type of race and secondly the number of runners in the race. See the table below.

Race Type <4 run 5-7 run H'Cap 8-11 run H'Cap 12-15 run H'Cap 16+ run Non H'Cap 8+ run
Paid Places win only 1,2 1,2,3 1,2,3 1,2,3,4 1,2,3
Place Factor win only 1/4 1/5 1/4 1/4 1/5

N.B The above table will be correct on most occasions. Sometimes however individual bookmakers will offer special promotions to attract more business. For example with the Grand National if you shop around you may see 1/4 odds paid out  for up to five places instead of the standard four.


Red Rum 10 each way @ 20/1 in an eight runner handicap.

Remember this is two bets. 10 win @ 20/1 and 10 place @20/1 * place factor.

Total stake = 20.

Checking the table above we see that for an eight runner handicap there are three places available and that the place factor is 1/5.

Lets assume that Red Rum runs a decent race and manages to finish in third position.

The win bet is lost. However as your horse finished in the top three the place section of the bet will pay out.

Return = Stake * (1 * {odds*place factor})

Return = 10 * ( 1 + {20* 1/5})

= 10 * (1 + 4)  = 50

The total staked including the win section of the bet was 20.

Your winnings are therefore 50- 20 = 30


Now let's work out what would happen if Red Rum won the race at 20/1.

In this scenario you would have two winning bets.

The win bet would return 10 * (1+20/1) = 210

As described above the place bet would return 50

Therefore total returned = 260

Total winnings = 260 - 20 = 240

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What is Betting Tax?

With everything in life that is fun to do or essential to our daily lives, the Government likes to put tax on it.

Betting tax as the name implies is a tax payable on bets.

Bets placed on the race course are exempt from this tax.

Bets placed off course e.g. in a typical high street bookmakers, are generally subject to a tax of 9%.

You may choose to pay your tax either

A. On your stake or

B. On your winnings.

Example: 10 to win @ 5/1

A. Tax Paid On Bet:

Total stake = 10 + 10 *  9% = 10.90

Return = Stake * (1 + Odds)

Return = 10 * (1 + 5) = 60

Winnings = 60 - 10.90 = 49.10


B. Tax Paid on Winnings:

Total Stake = 10

Winnings before tax = 50

Winnings after Tax = 50 - (50 * 9%)

= 50 - 4.50 = 45.50

As you can see from the above example if you think that long term you will win more than you loose you should Always Pay Tax On Your Stake.


Reduced Tax & Tax Free Betting:

Since October 2001 betting tax has been abolished in the UK.

This is good news for astute punters as no tax on stakes or winnings means greater profits.

Several tax free bookmakers, some with FREE bets are listed on the bookmakers page.

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