BSP: Betfair’s answer to Best Tote

In the latest part of our blog series, Mark looks at the Betfair SP market and when it pays to use it.

Punters will be familiar with the two main betting types offered by bookmakers on racing: fixed-odds and tote betting.

As we’ve already explored, the Betfair exchange offers an attractive and dynamic fixed-odds option.

But what of tote betting?

Betfair’s answer to this is the SP (starting price) market.

The BSP (Betfair Starting Price) is a true market price: backers and layers enter their stake for their horse as desired, with the price simply calculated by the weight of money on either side.  Of course, this means the price is moving all the way up until the race jumps, as money enters either side of the market for each runner.

Winners are paid out at the final starting price, with Betfair deducting commission from the winnings in the same way as exchange betting.

Odds limit

One very useful feature of BSP is the ability to set an odds limit: a minimum price for backers, and a maximum price for layers.  This allows you to enter your BSP stake ahead of time as usual, but only have the bet placed if the price reaches your desired limit.

This is done by selecting “Set SP odds limit” in the betslip, and entering your price.  For example, you may back a horse at SP on the morning of a race, but set an odds limit of $5.  In that case, if the SP pays $5 or greater, the bet will be placed as desired.  If it pays less than $5, the bet won’t be placed.

This is obviously an extremely useful feature for those working with a rated price.

So what’s it worth?

As a tote-style product, obviously we need to know if using BSP will allow us to extract more value.

To analyse this, we took all thoroughbred races from July – December 2016 in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia: a large sample of 6,748 races.

We assumed a $10 stake on each winner, and compared the profit at BSP prices vs the most common bookmaker tote offers: Best Tote for non-metro racing, or Best Tote/SP for metro meetings.

As you can see from the numbers, using BSP offers a considerable price advantage over tote offers: the same bets on every race resulted in 14.5% greater profits overall.

Note that these BSP profits are calculated after Betfair’s commission is deducted, so it represents what you will actually pocket.  The commission rate is 8% for New South Wales, and 6% for the other states.

And don’t forget: the more you use Betfair, the higher your commission discount.  This further reduces the commission you pay, increasing your profit yet again.

Some other observations include:

  • BSP beats the comparative price on all data tested: regardless of state, class or price point.
  • the margin is greater on non-metro racing, as a result of Best Tote/SP (offered by most bookies on metro meetings) being a superior product to Best Tote only.
  • the higher the price of the winner, the greater the advantage of using Betfair SP: for winners paying over $20, the profits from BSP were a whopping 32% higher.

All of this makes BSP a very compelling alternative to more traditional tote betting.

Not using it?  You’re leaving free money on the table!


Part 1: Betfair: the basics

Part 2: Betfair: the matching process

Part 3: Betfair: how to lay