How To Beat On-Course Bookmakers
BOOKMAKERS ARE THE sworn enemy of punters. But through getting to know how the enemy works,
punters can obtain a real edge.
So join us now for a quickfire guide to how on-course bookmakers at the horse racing tracks
Every racing punter can improve their gambling profits by learning to think like a bookie.
By understanding how and why they set certain odds for certain horses, it's possible for you to gain
a vital advantage when selecting winners.
The first important point every racing punter should know is that bookmakers initially form their
prices so as to try and make a profit no matter which horse wins the race.
In reality things generally don't work out that way and because the majority of good bookmakers
are businessmen first and gamblers a poor second, they don't like this.
They would like to have a balanced book on every race with a nice fat profit guaranteed whatever wins.
But this rarely happens.
The main reason is because the bookies don't often take the "right" amount of money on each
In an on-course betting market with its wild gyrations, especially close to the off, literally
thousands and thousands of pounds change hands.
Any bookie that steadfastly refused to get involved unless it was for the size of bet that
balanced his book wouldn't last long, so invariably they are forced to take bets that might leave them
facing a loss if a particular horse won.
So if bookies don't often end up with balanced books, what do they do? Simple: they don't try to balance
them to start with!
Instead, they pick on one, two or three runners, depending on the size of the field, and set about
deliberately making them losers.
This might sound odd, but it still means the bookie has the edge over the punter. For a race where a
bookie knows they will not take a proportionally equal amount of money for every horse, they will first
analyse the form.
They will also purchase something called a "tissue". A tissue is a prediction
of what the likely prices for each horse in a race will be.
The bookies pay for this and those who compile and sell the tissue will generally be experts
in their field. The bookie's tissue analysis might read something like this:
ANALYSIS: 2:30 ONE MILE HANDICAP - 8 RUNNERS DECLARED
- Riverside Claire: Tissue price of 6/4.
Hot favourite with good form, but has not won on the going and jockey is also having a bad run. Will make
this the loser for up to £1,500.
The bookie is saying he is not frightened of this horse and is going to make this his loser for up to
In other words, he is prepared to get this horse in' and will take bets up to the
point where he will lose £1,500 if it does go on to win.
- Rum Runner: Tissue price 3/1.
One to duck. Has good form from last year and is showing signs of regaining it after four bad recent runs.
Clearly this is a horse the bookie fancies. By saying it is "one to duck" they mean they will try
to avoid taking too much money on it. This will be achieved by offering slightly shorter odds than the
- Hurry Up Harry: Tissue price 4/1.
Has a reasonable chance. Will be cautious with this ifbig money starts to arrive for it.
The bookie is saying he will be careful with the price of this horse if he sees some big bets being
struck on it.
- Mailshot Mania: Tissue price 5/1.
Be careful here. No form at all, but it is a gambling stable and an underrated jockey. Also, heard rumours
it will be trying.
Here the bookie is being very cautious. He has heard that the trainer will be trying to win the race and,
being as the stable is known for its gambles, the bookie wants to avoid taking bets on the horse.
- Jump Up Johnny: Tissue price 10/1.
Will be careful with this early on. If the punters in the know leave it alone, will gradually push price
out hoping to attract small money.
Here, the bookie is saying they are not sure. If knowledgeable punters don't bE on it they will ease the
price out in an effort to attract the smaller bets.
- 3 other runners: Good Deal, Mostly Marvin, and Lively Larry. Tissue prices 8/1, 16/1 and 20/1 respectively.
No realistic chance any of them. Won't attract much money.
Clearly, the bookie doesn't fancy the other runners in the contest.
At the tissue prices the book adds up to a very nice - for the bookie at least 132.5 per cent,
meaning that the race should produce a good profit. But this assumes money car be taken in the 'right' amounts.
Out Of Proportion
In reality, what the bookmaker will do is try and take money on Riverside Claire out of proportion
to the other runners.
Because they don't think it can win the race they will be deliberately trying to 'get it in'.
They will be hoping any of the other seven runners win the race. Hence, they will still have the
edge over punters.
To have seven of the eight runners on your side is better than having just one regardless of how good
a chance that single horse has. So, they might open their prices up as follows:
- Riverside Claire 7/4
- Rum Runner 3/1
- Hurry Up Harry 9/2
- Mailshot Mania 9/2
- Jump Up Johnny 8/1
- Good Deal 8/1
- Mostly Marvin 16/1
- Lively Larry 20/1
All the bookies will work off roughly the same tissue prices. By opening up Riverside Claire at a
longer price than the other layers our bookie will be trying to attract more money on it.
As the betting progresses the bookie will take bets on Riverside Claire until he stands to lose
approximately £1,500 if it does triumph.
Through offering a shorter price on Rum Runner they will be trying to avoid taking bets on it,
simply because they think it has a good chance of winning.
At the end of the betting, the bookmaker's ledger might well look something like the one shown above.
The total money taken column shows how much cash has been taken on each horse, and, at the bottom,
the overall amount.
The total liability column shows how much the bookie will payout on each of the runners should
So, clearly the bookmaker will make a profit if any of the eight runners except for Riverside
If Mostly Marvin comes home, the profit will be £2,477 (£3,827 minus
£1,120). But if Lively Larry does the business the gain will be £3,587.
This is how the majority of on-Course bookmakers actually bet on races. The example given is a
slight exaggeration in order to illustrate the point - in reality a bookie would absolutely love
a book of this kind!
Instead of even trying to take the right amount of cash for each horse, bookmakers will
deliberately attempt to take money out of proportion on one or two runners.
In the overall course of their working week - that is, meeting after meeting - the bookie will
generally make money through adopting this policy of trying to 'get' certain horses in. But how
can this knowledge help you, the punter?
The Price Is Right Show Observing The Prices
The answer is through observation. At the races, sharp punters will soon spot when bookies
are deliberately offering longer prices on certain horses.
Then they will simply look for those bookmakers that are offering better prices on their selections
and back them accordingly.
It sounds simple enough, but there is more to it than that. The real professional punters
will know which bookies obtain good inside information.
If they happen to select a horse that they then see a couple of knowledgeable bookies trying to
'get in', it might be enough to stop them having a bet.
To be a top racing gambler you should be able to spot the difference between the real value
prices and those which the bookie has set in order to attract the punters, so that they have a good
chance of making a profit.
Therefore the message for a sports betting punters is clear. Know the bookies. Through doing so you'll
be able to see exactly what they're doing and exploit it .