Obtaining betting value is the art of identifying a selection whose actual odds of winning (the price available) exceed the true odds of success. An in depth explanation of betting value can be found in The Hunt For Sports Betting Value and the same principles for ‘beating the book’ apply across any gambling discipline. In many events there are just two participants, so the number of outcomes are limited to two or three. However, in horse racing there can often be a large number of different outcomes due to size of the fields and the sheer amount of runners competing in each event. Betting on more than one horse in race can be a difficult approach for many punters to get their head around, but it can actually be extremely fruitful in certain situations. This article takes a look at the theory behind why backing more than one runner can be profitable and then identifies the situations where multiple value may be present.
When researching a race, it is not uncommon to find more than one runner whose odds you believe are incorrect – be that the horse is overpriced or under-priced. Many encounter a psychological barrier of backing or laying more than one runner in an event, but if all of the runners represent ‘value’ in one form or another, then by striking the appropriate bet (back or lay), the value is in fact being magnified.
Take a mythical race where there are six runners. All of the horses have an identical chance on paper and as such should be +500 , which represents a 16.67% chance (100 divided by 6) of success. However the market has decided that two of the runners have less of a chance than the rest and they are on offer at +900 . For the simplicity of the example we are making the book 100% and so the remaining four runners at prices up at odds of +400 (most well-known books go off around 101% and bookmakers tend to be 110%+).
We can see that both Horse 5 and 6 offer 6.67% value due to the incorrectly priced market. By backing EITHER Horse 5 or Horse 6, we would be obtaining the 6.67% value, however by backing BOTH of the runners, the value received would be doubled to 13.33% (allowing for rounding)
Backing both of the runners, you are effectively receiving odds of +400 on a +200 chance (20% as opposed to 33.33%) and therefore when there is multiple value in the race, taking advantage of it can boost long term returns.
Compounding the value can really be beneficial. Assume that the race was run 1000 times, either Horse 5 or 6 would win 1/3rd (33.33%) of those races– 333. However, each time that a horse won, it would be paid out at +900 , giving a large profit over time. Assuming £1 had been staked on each selection over 1000 bets, with a total stake of £2000:
Winning bets = 333
Winning odds = +900
Total Return = £3330
Profit = Returns (£3330) – Stake (£2000) = £1330
ROI = 66.5%
*figures have been rounded
As the numbers show, the upside of backing both horses is massive. In reality, the value edge for both of the runners is quite big and the discrepancies in actual odds and true odds would be unlikely to be present so close to the off time (possibly available with early morning odds when bookmakers haven’t had much activity to shape the market), however the figures serve the purpose of illustrating the theory.
If choosing to back either Horse 5 or Horse 6, then over the long run the returns would actually be the same. Either horse would win 16.67% of the time and would be paid out at odds of +900 , but there are benefits to backing both runners. Getting a combined +200 about a +400 chance is preferable to getting +500 about a +900 chance due to the lower variance in losing runs. Essentially, a +200 shot is going to win more often than a +500 chance.
The expected losing run for a horse with odds of +200 if a race was run 1000 times is 17, whilst the longest expected losing run for a horse with odds of +500 is 38. What does this mean? Well a +200 shot gives more consistent returns and steady bank growth which is preferable – particularly if a % or ratchet method of staking is utilised.
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Obviously multiple value is present wherever there are horses whose odds on offer exceed their true chance of success. However there are certain circumstances in which multiple value is likely to exist:
Never be afraid to back more than one horse in a race. If value exists, then it would be remiss not to capitalise on it, regardless of how many runners are attractively priced. In the long run this will produce consistent profits.