Horse betting often seems like a complicated and daunting process for those not well-acquainted with it. In reality, it´s a lot simpler than it looks from the outside. Actually, the entire concept of betting on horses can be more or less understood by coming to terms with a few, basic ideas.
First, it might be useful for beginners to understand the term "Stake". In horse betting, the stake is very simply the sum of money that the gambler wishes to gamble. When placing bets on horse racing, the stake is the foundation of the entire process. The amount of money can vary depending on how much the gambler has, and what he is willing to risk. The minimum stake at any racecourse is usually £2. Depending on the stake, on the outcome of the race and the odds held by the specific horse, the winnings can be calculated.
A Horse´s Odds
The stake is always placed with knowledge of the horse´s odds. The odds, in horse betting terms, are generally the most effective way to convey the probability of the horse´s victory in any given race. The stake may be decided by the gambler with the odds of the horse in mind. Of course, the odds of the horse will also determine the gambler´s winnings. Basically, the less chance the horse has of winning, the more valuable its victory on the racetrack.
"Odds against" is the term given to the odds of a horse when it has less than a 50/50 chance of winning on the track. For example, the odds of the horse may be displayed as 3/1 or 8/1. If the gambler places his stake on a horse with odds against and that horse wins its race, the gambler will receive his stake back, in addition to his stake multiplied by the odds against it. If the stake is £5 and the odds of the horse are 2/1, the gambler will receive £5 plus 2 multiplied by £5 (a total of £15).
"Even money" is the term used when the odds of the particular horse are exactly 50/50. In this case, the gambler will simply receive double his original stake. If the odds of the horse are 1/1, and the gambler places £2 on the horse, he will receive his stake (£2) in addition to the stake multiplied by 1 (£2) which totals £4.
"Odds on" is the last of the three terms used to categorise a horse´s odds. This term is used when the horse´s chance of winning the race has been calculated as more than 50/50. In this case, the odds might be 1/3. If a stake is placed on a horse with these odds, the gambler will receive his stake, in addition to the stake multiplied by the odds on it. For example, the gambler will receive his stake (let´s say £6) plus the stake multiplied by 1/3 (£2) which equals £8.
Long Odds and Short Odds
A lot of the time, gamblers are likely to hear the terms "long odds" and "short odds" being thrown around. These terms simply apply to the horse´s odds of winning, without being expressed as fractions. For example, a horse´s odds classified as "long odds" are usually defined by a low chance of winning (100/1 or 50/1). Alternatively, if the horse is very likely of winning the race (1/20 or 1/10) in question, its odds will often be termed "short odds".