Is It Better To Bet Early Or Late?



Is It Better To Bet Early Or Late?

Corporate bookmakers open their betting markets for Saturday metropolitan races earlier than ever these days on Wednesday afternoons. That gives punters a three day window of opportunity in which to place their bets. So it is more advantageous to bet early or late? It’s the eternal question for punters. So we thought we’d find out the answer.

In our research we looked at the odds of horses running at metropolitan races in Melbourne and Sydney from mid July to mid August 2017. Whilst it is interesting to compare opening markets on Wednesdays to the final available odds on Saturdays, its like comparing apples and oranges - because over the three day time frame there are scratchings which can make for serious deductions to your final dividend. With that in mind we recorded horses' odds as at
11.00 a.m. on race morning (i.e. after markets had been adjusted for race scratchings) and then compared those odds to the best available odds (i.e. Best of the three totes and SP) just prior to race start time.

Here’s what we discovered. Punters placing their bets as late as possible, that is just before the jump, got better odds 61% of the time compared to if they had placed their bets earlier at 11.00 a.m. on race morning. They got the same odds 6% of the time and worse odds 33% of the time.

Those figures apply to all the horses running on those metropolitan race days. However, as punters we are most interested in winners - so we thought it would be worth doing the same research but this time only focusing on the winners. We found that punters who backed the winner of a race and who left it to just before the jump to make their bet, got better odds 48% of the time, the same odds 2% of the time and worse odds 50% of the time. The figures reflect the fact that winners of races have a higher likelyhood of being backed in than other runners in general.

It can be disappointing and hurt the hip pocket to miss a plunge and to place your bet at the skinny end of proceedings just before they jump. However, the same disappointment is felt and your wallet is also whacked when you bet early only to see the odds of your horse balloon out to its best price just before it scores.

We leave the final word on the subject to Bill Benter who made his fame and fortune betting on the
Hong Kong races and who is arguably the most successful punter of all time. He says “The best time to bet is always in the last minute”. Benter says this because only when you wager in the last minute can you know what the expected payout will be. It should be taken into consideration that he is referring to betting on the tote - which is the only legal form of wagering in Hong Kong. However, for Australian punters who bet with corporate bookmakers and who chase the highly popular ‘Best of the 3 totes and SP’ dividend, the same basic philosophy can apply.