Bankroll Management for Beginners
Like most other forms of strategy-based wagering winning at the track is dictated much more by bankroll management and wagering discipline than by any amount of luck.
One could be the best poker player in the world but, without the ability to manage a bankroll and consistently bet the right amounts at the right times, you'll find yourself broke more often than not.
Thoroughbred racing takes discipline, especially if you bet frequently. One of the biggest hurdles for novice punters is that they start delving into lots of exotic wagers that involve too many “savers” (additions to the ticket to add further options). Always know how to visualize your predicted payout and use that to structure your bets around if you feel like getting complicated.
Plan your Attack
One of the main drainers of bankrolls far and wide, particularly for new punters, is to overplay the betting favourites. It's extremely difficult to turn a consistent profit on short-priced contenders. The general rule of thumb is that favourites win about 1/3 of the time- if the horses you're backing are less than 2/1 or 3/1 then you're going to have a tough go of it unless you're stacking your bets at exactly the right time.
As a novice, your best bet is to figure out which races you intend to wager on and divide up your bankroll by that amount. Ask yourself what type of result would be best on the day – are you happy to just have enough to buy some extra drinks or are you looking for a smash and grab raid on the bookies?
Figure out what stakes you're comfortable playing at and never make a “rage-bet” where you try to chase a loss in a previous race by betting either a substantial sum or backing a horse that boasts unreasonable odds. This is similar to going “on tilt” at the poker table.
The Three Best Types of Beginner Horse Racing Bets
When spending some time handicapping out a racecard it's important to divide up your bets properly. Some people are content to spend an entire day on-course and make only one significant wager and if that approach suits you then by all means go for it. However, most punters will be playing a majority of the races and it's important to structure your wagers into three different categories.
The first type of wager that most punters should be looking for are colloquially referred to as “action bets”. These types of wagers involve live longshots or horses that look to outrun their odds.
A lot of bigger-paying forecast tickets and each-way forecasts were intended as action bets. Punters can't expect to win the majority of these, but hitting one of them will usually refund the stack you brought in to bet with.
Keep your wagers relatively small and be sure not to overplay these ones if you aren't having a great day at the windows.
“Prime bets” are the bread and butter of your winning tickets and these tend to be wagers that you are willing to push a bit of money on because a horse looks to be a step ahead of the field. These types of bets are ones where you will acknowledge taking somewhat shorter odds on a stand-out selection or playing a lukewarm favourite in a deep field.
To spot a prime bet, look for horses who excel at the course and distance that have won at levels higher than the current race.
Other prime bets can usually be spotted by keeping your eyes open for contenders shipping in from significantly better tracks or ones that look to take big advantage of a surface bias.
For instance, if you spot an accomplished front-running contender on the all-weather who draws an inside post on a surface that favours early speed – you're looking at a prime bet. Know where your cut-off is for value, most punters won't go below 9/5 even on the best horses.
Each Way Shots
“Each-way shots” are a nice way to practice finding action bets as you will be looking for contenders with sometimes rather obscure records who are looking to improve substantially or who could be poised to take advantage of a weaker field.
These bets are structured as two-line bets with one line to win and one line to place. Keep track of how many places are being paid out on, but you'll usually find any race with eight horses or more paying top three.
These types of wagers are ones who might win but certainly look to be there-or-thereabouts. The complication is that these can chew up a lot of your bankroll as you're betting twice as much as you normally would on a single.
Most punters will take an each-way bet at 20/1 but some won't touch a 16/1. A certain school of punter will only go each way at 33/1.
Each way shots are good smaller stakes wagers to keep you interested while you wait for your prime bets with an action bet here and there along the way. Never overbet an each-way selection as the losses can add up quickly.