What are different types of bets?

The simplest type of bet is a single win bet, in which you wager a certain amount, known as your ‘stake’, on a single selection, which must win for you to make a profit. If horse wins, you receive winnings equal to your stake multiplied by the winning odds, plus your stake back. If the horse does not win, you lose your stake in its entirety.

Alternatively, an each-way bet is, in effect, two bets, one on a selection to win and another on the same selection to finish placed or, in other words, second, third or fourth, depending on the ‘place terms’ offered on the race in question. Standard place terms are, for handicaps with 16 or more runners, one-quarter the odds for the first four places, for handicaps with 12-15 runners, one-quarter the odds for the first three places, for all other races with 8 or more runners, one-fifth the odds for the first three places and, for all races with 5-7 runners, one-quarter the odds for the first two places. If your horse wins, both your ‘win’ and ‘place’ bets are winners, if the horse does not win, but is placed, your ‘place’ bet is a winner and if the horse is unplaced, both bets are losers.

If you want to bet on more than one horse in more than one race, you can combine your selections in win, or each-way, doubles, trebles and accumulators. In the case of a double, both selections must win, or be placed, to guarantee a return, in the case of a treble, all three selections must win, or be placed, and so on. Combination, or multiple, bets of this type are inherently more risky than win or each-way single bets, but do offer the potential of a huge return for a small initial outlay.

Aside from these basic types of bet, bookmakers also offer a whole host of ‘exotic’ bets, such as forecast and tricast bets, which invite you to attempt to predict the first two, or the first three, horses home in certain races. Once again, these bets offer the potential for a huge return, but involve betting at multiple odds, so the bookmakers are giving nothing away.

How do I place a bet?

To place a bet, legally, on horse racing in Britain, you must do so with a licensed bookmaker. Some licensed bookmakers, including the so-called ‘Big Three’ – William Hill, Ladbrokes and Coral – are household names, but there are plenty of others plying their trade on the High Street, on racecourses up and down the country and online.

Placing a bet in a betting shop involves writing the name of your selection, the time and meeting at which it is running, the type of bet you wish to place and the amount you wish to stake on a betting slip and handing it to a cashier behind the counter. In return, you will receive a receipt – nowadays, typically a duplicate of your original betting slip – which you must hand back to the cashier, after the race, for payment in the event that your bet is a winner.

On-course bookmakers display the odds available on the next race on a electronic display board, so placing a bet simply involves approaching the bookmaker and stating, clearly, the racecard number of your selection, the type of bet you wish to place – that is, win or each-way – and the amount you wish to stake. In return, you will receive a printed receipt bearing the details of your bet, which you must present to the bookmaker after the race – after the horses have ‘weighed in’ – to receive any winnings.

Placing a bet online involves opening an account with the bookmaker of your choice and registering an appropriate credit or debit card, by means of which you will fund the account. Terms and conditions, including minimum deposit and withdrawal amounts, maximum payouts and so on, vary from one online bookmaker to another, so make sure that they are acceptable before committing to opening an account. Thereafter, placing a bet is as simple as clicking on the name of your selection – which will be added to an electronic betting slip – clicking the type of bet you wish to place, entering your stake amount and clicking another button to confirm your bet. You will be able to view your list of ‘open’ bets at any time and any winnings will automatically be credited to your account when each bet is settled.