Ever dreamed of becoming a bookmaker?
Most punters have. You know, wearing a designer suit, driving a flash car and fearlessly taking on all comers. Nowadays you can play the role of bookmaker thanks to Betfair, but it really does take a certain mindset to be a successful lay bettor. You need to be patient, selective, specialised and prepared for the fact that one loss can take days to recoup. And the race watching experience is turned on it’s head because you will more than likely cheer on your lay bet to miss the start, or get caught wide, or puncture in the straight or lose a photo-finish. Or all of the above! All of this is basically the opposite of what you have been doing throughout your punting life, but lay betting can actually provide a lot of thrills. You have the entire field (minus your lay bet) running for you and depending on the price range you’re laying into, most likely you will have a high strike-rate and long winning streaks. Just laying favourites will give you a 70% strike-rate, but quite obviously it’s not as easy as this to actually make money. The advantage of the high strike-rate is that it can be a great confidence booster which is an important factor in the psyche of any successful punter. Taking on the favourite and getting it beaten has a certain amount of satisfaction. But always remember something I have written about many times over the years and that is the favourite versus longshot bias. What this means is that the most profitable horse to back (as a win betting punter) is the favourite. The 2nd fave gives the 2nd best return, the 3rd fave the 3rd best and onwards right through the field. This bias is the opposite of what the vast majority of punters believe, but it’s a statistical fact that has held up for as long as records have been kept and not only in horse racing but also sports betting, financial markets and more. As a lay bettor this means that (as a rule) the favourite is the least profitable to lay, but obviously I am talking about a general statistical overview rather than one that should be applied to every race you are looking to bet into. So what kind of races are good ones to get involved in when you are playing the role of bookie? A good starting point is look to lay a horse that is favoured to do something that it’s never done before. That may be get a distance, perform on a wet track, or handle a big rise in class. Other good lay betting opportunities are those to be ridden by a mediocre jockey and/or those who look to be disadvantaged by the speed map. Get-back run-on horses are often good lay bets simply because the market overvalues previous ‘eye-catching performances’. On pace runners are less exciting to the everyday punter but are a far better win betting proposition. Before you get heavily into lay betting make sure you understand the type of punter typically on the other side of your lay bet. The Betfair market is full of ‘smarties’. You’re not dealing with the mug punters at your local TAB, rather you are exchanging bets with some of the shrewdest punters in the land. Betfair market movement is a fantastic indicator and countless times you will see horses layed at a price far bigger than what is available at the bookies or totes, but they invariably run in line with their Betfair odds. The same goes for horses where the bookies are offering the best available price and Betfair odds are just under these. Keep any eye on these runners as they almost always run well. Like anything worth doing, there is a learning curve to become a successful lay bettor but for those prepared to put the work in it can be a very rewarding venture.
You can take a look at Betfair here.