Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Laying Horses By The Horse Racing Pro

Psst! Do you want to know a good thing today? I have a cert, a sure thing; this cannot get beat! There is of course a drawback: it is only 1/3!Faced with such an offer the chances are your enthusiasm is tempered. How many punters actually set their stall to make a large profit at such short odds? Not many I would suggest. So why should Betfair punters be prepared to lay horses at 3/1 – or in some cases at even bigger odds?

Bearing in mind that everything becomes reversed when you become the layer, opposing a 3/1 chance is the equivalent of backing at 1/3. If you would not back a horse at those odds, why lay it?

Forget what you know or think you know about the horse, football team or boxer in question, backing at those odds means you have reduced your margin for error to such a level that you cannot show a profit in the long run. You need to be correct 75% of the time just to break even. Nobody is right 75% of the time about anything! The best you can expect to achieve is to be right 50% of the time and that is an ambitious target. Consequently, those thinking of laying horses are advised to concentrate on short-priced horses they consider to be flawed. Laying a horse at 1/3 means that it is 3/1 against you being right but, instead of having to be right 75% of the time, now you only need to be right 25% of the time to break even. On the occasions you collect, because the amount you win is three times the amount you risked, you can afford to be more adventurous with your liability.

Okay, there are not many 1/3 chances that we can confidently lay. Most of them appear to have outstanding chances hence the price, and most face inferior or poor opposition. So as a layer you have little in your favour and, at least on paper, are faced with a horse who only has to go down and come back. The other problem with taking chances with long odds-on shots is that, because you will find yourself on the wrong side of the transaction most of the time, there is little opportunity to recover losses as 1/3 chances that you feel are opposable are thin on the ground.

Laying horses is surprisingly tricky. Personally, if I think I have earmarked a wobbly favourite, I am more likely to try and spot the value against it – in other words – if possible find the winner.

But there is a school of thought that says if you lay a market-leader, you have the rest of the field running for you, meaning there is a strong chance something will emerge from the pack to foil the favourite. That is the bookmaker argument: that something will save their bacon but they do not know what that might be. That line of argument is too vague, too haphazard for my tastes. I need to have reasons to oppose the favourite and a couple of rivals in the field that I feel are capable of so doing.

Herewith, are a couple of areas we touched on in previous articles. Remember, just because a horse you do not particularly fancy is overpriced it is not a bet; conversely, do not fall into the trap of thinking that a horse you think will win is too short and therefore becomes a lay. Such thinking means you are bookmaker-driven. You are allowing them to decide your mindset and the object at all times is that you are in charge of your thought processes. There are occasions when the price is too low for your taste. That means you do not back it – simple as that.

To go back to the lay situation, I do have a train of thought that will horrify some and doubtless prompt objections a-plenty. I have often laid one horse and backed another in the same race. On the face of it, that seems a recipe for disaster. You are running the risk of losing twice. If the horse you have laid wins, you lose and of course forfeit your stake on the horse you have backed to boot. It is not for everyone but is not as daft as it sounds. If you are going to lay a horse at around 9/4, chances are you are not going to win much if it loses because its price means, as already stated, you are betting at odds-on. You are risking £90 for every £40 gained. You can turn that round by backing the horse you think has a strong chance of beating it at, say, odds of 6/1. Because you have already money in the bank on the assumption the favourite will lose, you do not need to lay out much on the horse you fancy. Should it win, as well as having run the risk of losing twice, you now win twice. This is not necessarily a recommended course of action on a regular basis but, like everything in this business, a flexible approach can pay dividends on occasion.

There are also times when to all intense and purposes there are only two possible winners of a race. Laying one of them is tantamount to backing the other. Yes, I know you have the rags running for you but, once again, by relying on them, you are playing the Zero on the roulette wheel – something that only obliges once in every thirty-seven spins. My own take on laying, unless I am handed an opportunity to lay a short one that I am convinced is not going to win and I am forcing the backer to bet odds-on, is to lay as part of an overall package or strategy. Identifying races that have a punter-friendly look to them can be as important as finding winners. You may be one of the best form students in the business, but you are going to need the gods to dish up a dollop of good fortune to collect in the Hunt Cup or the Ayr Gold Cup.

There is nothing more satisfying or confidence boosting than knowing before a race that you have read it correctly. That when you have identified only two runners and have taken 6/1 about yours, you are confident you only have one to beat. It may be a close-run thing and you may lose out to the one that was your biggest danger but, in running, as one horse after another drops by the wayside, you can be sure that sooner or later, your selection will be launching its challenge. Such confidence cannot be achieved on every race, or even on every day. But when it can, I submit that is the time to count your chips and place them on the green baize.

Personality has a great bearing on your success or lack of it and there is no perfect beast to build here. Take advice from those that have made this business pay and work round those aspects of their success that suit your style best. Do not put yourself under pressure to work to someone else’s methods if they do not suit you.

However, I am of the opinion that the more effective you are at sifting through the formbook and information received, the less bets you will need to strike. Scatter betting is for those who are playing percentages and nothing more. It is for accountants!

If you can identify winners and races where you can make the wheel spin in your favour, then it cuts out a lot of chagrin, a lot of unnecessary heartache and reduces the game of betting to something you are conducting on your terms.