Predicting Last Minute Tote Board Changes When Betting on Horse Races

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One of the most discouraging experiences at the races can be betting on a horse that you think is at fair value odds only to have the odds drop like a stone after the last bell. Many people do not realize that at most race tracks, the odds on the board usually reflect less than half of the total money that will eventually find its way into the pool. The reason for this is that most bettors wait until the last minute or two to bet and even though the odds and totals are calculated by computer, that still takes time and the true total cannot be tallied until after the pools are closed.

I’ve written about fair value odds before, but let me briefly explain what they are for those who may have missed those articles. Fair value odds are the odds that will return your investment, the amount of money you bet, plus a profit. If you bet on a horse with the attributes of today’s runner ten times, he or she will win and pay well enough to return a profit for all monies wagered on him or her.

Let’s say you could find this very same horse against the same field and bet it in ten races. A minimum win bet is $2. That means you will risk a total of $20. If you’ve practiced your handicapping and know that the horse will win twice out of ten races and it is at 5-1. the you know it will return $12 two times for a total of $24. That is a $4 profit. Of course, you’ll wager much more than $2 per race, but you get the idea.

The key to making money at the races is to become skilled enough to know when a horse’s chances of winning are greater than the odds, or the public’s opinion. The crowd’s opinion of each runner is expressed in the odds on the board. If they only bet it down to 7-1 but you know from your past experience that its chances are better than that, you have an opportunity to make some money. The problem is, of course, that the odds will change after the bell.

What if you bet the horse at fair value odds only to have it drop to less than fair value? Then you have just risked your money on a losing proposition. Even if the horse manages to win twice out of ten races, if it is at less than 5-1, how much will you make? You’ll actually lose if it drops below 9-2. What if the race goes off and the odds drop to 4-1? you’re a loser at that point, my friend.

First of all, most favorites drop in price after the final bell. Secondly, in a race with a heavily bet favorite and a decent second choice, the second choice may often get a lot of late money from value shoppers. These situations make third and fourth choice horses much more likely to retain or even gain value after the bell. Be very leery of a horse who seems to stand over the rest but is getting less respect than it should. Many times, that correction will occur.

On the other hand, in the case of a favorite getting plenty of action before the bell, the second choice may get a lot of action and it will show up after the bell.

Source by Bill Peterson

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