Horse Racing remains the staple diet of British bookmaking shops. It’s been that way since 1961, the year betting shops became legal and quickly a familiar feature on the British High Street.
Just as it was way back then newspapers, listing runners and riders from the day’s horse racing meetings, still drape the walls of betting offices the length and breadth of the country.
Yes, there have been major changes in the business during the past 50+ years, Sunday racing and Sunday opening being one of them. But the Internet proved to be the catalyst which has sped up the process of change immeasurably and monumentally during the past 15 years.
It, allied to Victor Chandler installing telephone lines into tax free Gibraltar, resulted in the abolition of government betting tax which blew the doors off of the bookmaking profession and has send betting turnover stratospheric.
Fundamentally however, bookmakers still take bets on the outcome of horse races and pay out winners at a pre-arranged fixed price or an official starting price (SP).
There is now more racing than ever, with the introduction of ‘all-weather’ racing meaning horses can and do race throughout the winter and in the evenings under floodlights. Simple supply and demand stuff.
Throughout the sixties, seventies and eighties punters options amounted to win bets, each-way bets and accumulative bets: Doubles, trebles, 4-folds etc and exotics such as the popular 15-bet multiple, the Lucky 15.
But, once online betting exchange Betfair hit cyberspace, the traditional bookmakers knew they had to up their game, offer competitive prices and considerably more markets. The headache of an ‘in-running’ offering would soon follow.
Place only, winning distance and match-bets have all now found their way onto the traditional firms daily menu but the sweet succulent lobster meat (with a crunch of Japanese cabbage, mayo, finely sliced spring onion and a sprinkling of Shichimi all on a lightly toasted brioche), is the introduction of ‘Best Odds Guaranteed’.
The definition of Best Odds Guaranteed is: Take an offered price on your selection, say 7/2, at any time prior to the race and you are guaranteed that return regardless of the fact that a flood of late money could see it return as an even-money favourite.
There is nothing new with this ‘take a price’ scenario but now, should that horse drift out in price, to a hypothetical starting price of 11/2, these are the odds you will be paid out at.
It’s a supreme win/win situation and massively advantageous to punters especially given the tiny margins, thanks to Betfair, you can wager to in this modern era if shopping around.
‘Best Odds Guaranteed’ is also the bookmaker’s first serious bite-back (see here for Best Odds Guaranteed bookmakers). Exchange betting may allow you to oppose as well as support a selection but once the hammer goes down on your transaction it is fully binding.
Just how bookmakers can sustain this business practice, which is akin to a shopkeeper calling you back into his shop to advise you he had changed his mind about the price of the purchases you had made and now wants to refund you some money, initially appears questionable.
But bookmakers are nobody’s fool and they are aware the majority of winners are subject to market support forcing their price downwards prior to the race off.
Nevertheless, Best Odds Guaranteed can be exploited and here is how:
Using an odds comparison site identify a horse race where the best overall percentage, using all bookmakers best available odds, is low. 103 percent or less (use our Dutching calculator for help with this).
Invariably you will find such races feature field sizes between four and eight runners and in a window of time around three to four hours before race time.
Once doing so back all the contestants to give a return of £100. In the example of a 103 percent over-round this exercise will cost you £103.
…and now you sit back and wait for the result.
Should the winner of the race return at the price you took, say 4/1, or a shorter price, you will collect £100 and lose £3 on the exercise.
However, should the winner return at a price greater than the 4/1 that you took, you will be in clover. An SP of 5/1, for example, will see you collect £120 and make a £17 profit on the race.
This simple system offers a great potential upside while the downside is pre-determined (a little over three percent maximum).
However, you will require a sizeable bankroll to sustain this system. In a single race you may need to place your bets with eight individual firms and, depending on which one your winning bet was placed with, your returns will all end up in the one.
Given you may identify five ‘framed races’ a day a substantial amount of ready cash must be on all of your online accounts or available quickly via payment cards.
Then there are time constraints. Tiny margins do not stay in place for long and markets are constantly evolving. A horse may be a standout 4/1 with a firm but in the middle of placing eight individual wagers it may disappear. Suddenly a 103 percent over-round becomes 108 and a bigger potential loss (and smaller profit) is on the cards.
Long losing sequences are also possible – as it is a fact the majority of race winners contract in price during the course of the day.
Like so many systems the theory of exploiting ‘Best Odds Guaranteed’ by backing the entire field and knowing your potential downside is attractive on paper.
It will require a sizeable bankroll and a guarantee that your online bookmakers will not refuse your bets. Ideally a team of people would be needed to place wagers simultaneously before prices change.
Mistakes could be catastrophic and there is no guarantee of making gains.
But there is no denying there will be some satisfaction of having one over on the old enemy via a loophole/concession they have created.