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Horse Punting Made Simple
From John Hawthorne: June 2015

There are two kinds of punters, serious or professional punters who live and breathe for the chance to bet and recreational punters who play for fun and enjoyment, hoping to make a few dollars along the way. Most serious punters have their own methods and systems to help keep them grinding towards profits. For recreational punters, they often bet without the requisite knowledge they usually need to be successful.

Tips for Recreational Punters

In an attempt to level the playing field just a bit, there are certain handicapping angles recreational punters can learn that might help them enjoy better success at the races. No one should expect miracles. After all, punting is punting and money is sometimes lost. However, the information listed here is designed to maximize a punter's chances for a win.

1. Don't Bet Favorites - There is no statistical benefit to betting favourites. The reality is that favourites only win 30%-35% of the time. Given the return on investment is usually even money or less, it doesn't make sense to risk money for such a small return. Instead, casual players might want to focus on horses carrying odds between 3-1 and 7-1. Most of these horses are in form, in class and have a reasonable chance to hit the finish line first. Horses in this odds range hit the winner's circle about 40% of the time, representing the best value in a given race

2. Watch Jockey/Trainer Combinations - A horse trained by a top trainer or ridden by a top rider is certainly worth watching, but it hardly offers enough justification to create a real wagering opportunity. However, horses with successful jockey/trainer combinations warrant a second look. The reality is trainers and jockeys are very superstitious. When they start having success teaming up on horses, they like to keep the momentum going. A trainer may use a variety of riders, but they usually have a "go to" rider they want to use when a horse is "live." Pay attention when a trainer goes to his go to rider on a horse for the first time.

3. Odds Moves - While a large majority of the people who bet horses are recreational punters, serious punters carry the most knowledge and often bet the largest amounts, amounts big enough to change a horse's odds. Instead of looking at the listed odds to see what a particular horse is offering, it might be a good idea to note the odds of each horse at three minute intervals starting with the morning line odds. If there is a substantial move in the odds either up or down on a given horse, it might be the indication of a live horse or a horse that is "dead on the board." If the odds move down more than 40% from the morning line, someone with money likes the horse and it should be noted.

4. Tools of the Trade - There is nothing preventing recreational punters from learning how to read a racing form or form guide. The information listed might seem a bit daunting, but there are some basic pieces of information (speed figures, class, jockey/trainer combinations) to help even the most inexperienced punter. The next time the Caulfield Cup rolls around, recreational punters should use the event as a chance to grab a form guide, look at the Caulfield Cup field, make a wager and watch the final Caulfield Cup results. The experience could do them good.

Of course, no one has to wait for the Caulfield Cup field to take form or Caulfield Cup results to be posted in order to learn how to punt on the ponies. Recreational punters who start now might be serious punters by the time the next big race rolls around.

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