Our first ever Sunday fixture attracted lots of novice racegoers with questions about betting. For the benefit of all those who wanted to know, but were too embarrassed to ask, here’s a brief explanation…
Imagine that you
have a jar containing 38 different flavours of jelly beans. We might assume
that there are roughly equal numbers of each flavour in the jar – so the
chances of pulling out a delicious cinnamon flavoured bean is 37/1. The
bookmaker has to make a profit, so instead of offering you the true price,
he’ll keep a little bit for himself – perhaps offering you fixed odds of 33/1 about
as we all know, there are other forces at work – and for some reason there are
always a lot more of the disgusting coconut flavoured beans than cinnamon ones.
That explains why our 33/1 shots very rarely come in. I think...
If at first I
don’t get a cinnamon flavoured bean, I’ll try again and again – eating all of
the beans removed except the coconut ones which I toss back into the jar. If I have four attempts, the chances
of striking lucky are much improved, which is why bookmakers often pay only 1/5 of the quoted odds for placed horses (sometimes 1/4 of the odds in more
get to the stage where half of the beans left in the jar are coconut. It is
now even-money that I’ll be able to pick out something edible (most of them are fruit flavoured which is fine - it's just mixing them with mint or liquorice which is a bit odd). On the face of it,
even-money doesn’t seem too bad an offer – it’s a 50:50 chance. But that’s where most
punters go wrong; even-money is a very skinny price indeed - just one bean away
from being odds-on, which is when there are more coconuts than anything else.
At this point it’s usually better to give the jar to someone else, because
you’ve probably had enough.
professional punters prefer to bet-in-running. They’ll watch very closely to
see which bean is tumbling towards the mouth of the jar as it is tipped on its
side. In some cases they might even watch from here at the racecourse –
exploiting the fractional advantage that can be gained by avoiding the tiny
delay during the transmission of pictures into people’s homes and betting
requires quick reactions and it can all be a bit stressful. But betting is
supposed to be a bit of fun, which is why pool-betting was invented. Pool
betting (administered by Totepool, sponsors of the £26,000 Cumbria Crystal Cup
on Saturday 18th July) is where we put everyone’s beans into one
enormous pot and then wait to see who selected the winner. After the
bean-counters have removed the management charges, the remaining beans are
divided equally between all of the people who made the correct choice – that might be only a few if the selection was very popular, or loads and loads of beans if the winner was relatively unconsidered.
Exotic pool bets
have names like the Jackpot, Placepot and Trifecta. They involve selecting several
horses and specifying how they will finish (all winners, all placed or to fill
the first three places in one race). They are therefore very difficult to predict, but
the benefit is that, by risking just one bean, you could scoop an enormous
selection runs at Sandown on Saturday, where the entire card is supported by
Coral bookmakers (who also sponsor our feature races on Bank Holiday Monday, 31st
August). Corals offer customers the opportunity to bet at fixed odds as well as
through Totepool in their shops - although I'm not sure whether they pay out in cinnamon or coconut.
Either way, Salt Island runs over the minimum distance in
the Coral Charge – and we feel sure that he'll be full of beans.