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Horse Racing - FAQ
Kevin from Van Nuys, California
A good bet is a good bet, regardless of whom it is against. However, you can't ignore the high house cut at the track. You also can never be sure of what the true odds are at the track. If I thought a horse had a 50% chance of winning but paid 3 to 1, then I would doubt by own judgement that the horse really had a 50% chance of winning. Along the same lines, when choosing a mutual fund you should consider not only the historic rate of return but also how much is charged in commissions.
Donald from Watervliet, USA
Thanks for the compliment. Let’s let c equal the track cut. If the odds closed at 5-2 then:
(577889*(1-c)-125353)/125353 = 2.5
So the track cut was 24%. For a futures bet this is not unusual. This illustrates why futures are a bad bet.
Assuming you had an equal chance at getting each horse then the probability of winning would be 1 in 17, regardless of how the odds on each horse were distributed. The player’s expected return can be expressed as (1/17)*15.3 + (16/17)*-1 = -0.0412. In other words the house edge is 4.12%. However there is another simple formula you can use. If a = actual odds paid and f = fair odds for bet then the house edge is (f-a)/(f+1). In this case the fair odds are 16 to 1. So the house edge is (16-15.3)/(16+1) = 0.7/17 = 4.12%.
Another Mike S., what are the odds? Lots of racetracks permit what is called "class 2" gaming, which must be lottery or bingo based. The way to offer slots under this rule is to have a lottery or bingo game going on behind the scenes and the outcome is displayed in the form of a slot machine win. For example if the lottery game determines that you win 20 times your bet it will display whatever slot machine symbols pay 20. So it is a clever illusion.
Betting on the horses is one of my weakest areas when it comes to gambling. I have heard that "bridge jumper" bets (a bet on a huge favorite to show) can sometimes be a good bet due to the guaranteed $2.20 minimum return on a $2 bet. However I know of no way to have a consistent edge or any person who is successful as a professional racetrack bettor. Yet I don’t deny the track can be beat. In the book Gambling Wizards author Richard Munchkin tells the story about one professional gambler’s success at the racetracks in Hong Kong, where the track cut is less than in the United States.
Ken from Antioch
I called the Naples/Fort Meyers greyhound track in Florida. The person I was directed to said that the takeout, or track cut, ranged from 19% for the simple win, place, and show bets, to 21% for pick-2 bets like the quinella, to 25% for more exotic bets like trifectas. This is very similar to the takeout in Florida for horse racing. From anecdotal information I have heard, the takeout is more or less the same everywhere between dog and horse racing.