How to Win Betting Horses

For the purpose of this article we will assume you’re betting on horses using, which means that while the races might be taking place almost anywhere in the world, the wagering conventions are American.

by Ed DeRosa

I.e., we’ll stick to how to win betting horses in a pari-mutuel system. Click here to learn more about what is pari-mutuel betting.

The most important thing to remember when betting into a pari-mutuel pool is that when you win other people lose and vice versa. It’s not like the casino where everyone at the blackjack table can beat the dealer. With pari-mutuel betting, the house takes its cut no matter what and the rest is divided among the winners (the losers get nothing).

So how do you win betting horses? You have to think differently than the other bettors, but before you can think differently you must understand how they think.

Bettors like success, and they have long memories when it comes to it. That is, horses who have won races at today’s level (or above it) are generally overbet versus horses who are in better current form even if their most recent races don’t compare as favorably on paper.

But the results of tens of thousands of races back this up: Horses who performed well in their last start outperform horses who did not even if the latter horses were competing at a higher class. However, these horses who did not perform as well are often bet more than the others. This creates an opportunity for you to profit when those horses lose.

The Past Performances can help you identify these opportunities because these PPs include proprietary data that better defines a horse’s performance.

My favorite example: Conventional wisdom among handicappers often espouses that bettors should not back recent maidens facing winners for the first time—the thought being that those with experience running against winners are better than those coming out of races in which nobody has won.

However, recent maiden winners fit the profile of horses in good form. They won their last start, and if their Speed Ratings per are competitive (or better) than the other horses in the race then this could provide an opportunity for a good bet because most bettors are reluctant to back a recent maiden against winners.

Remember, when we win other people are losing, and not betting a horse just because it was a maiden in his/her last race is a losing opinion.

One aspect of betting on horses critical to winning that is not discussed enough is bankroll management. Horse racing is like baseball in that you can be wrong 2/3 of the time and be a superstar, and being wrong more than your right means it’s not wise to bet more than your bankroll allows because then you won’t have enough to bet other opportunities.

That’s not to say that you should evenly divide your bankroll by the number of races you want to play or bets you want to make. Just as you shouldn’t bet $100 on the first race if all you have is $100, neither should you blindly decide to bet $10/race. The percentage of your bankroll wagered should match the strength of your opinion. Maybe bet 25% on your best bet of the day, 10% on a few more confident plays, and 5% on the rest.

This is just one example, but I’ll repeat the lesson: your bet should match your opinion both in terms of the horses you bet and the amount you bet on them. Stronger convictions should mean bigger bets.