Why is Value so Important in Horse Racing Betting?

When it comes to punting with your hard earned cash you should only bet when you have “VALUE” and never play unless you’re getting the best of it.

I’d like to share this quote about Value from “Six Secrets of Successful Bettors: Winning Insights to Playing the Horses” (Frank R. Scatoni and Pete Fornatale)

People talk about value as if it is a ‘factor’ or an ‘angle’ when in fact it is the definition of success at parimutuel wagering.  Every horse entered into a race has some chance of winning it, whether it’s over 90 percent or under 1 percent, and the whole point of the game is to find situations where the public’s assessment of that probability varies from yours.  That’s the definition of showing a profit.  When someone says he ‘likes’ a horse in a race, it’s a meaningless statement unless he is saying implicitly that he thinks the horse has a greater chance of winning than the likely toteboard price.”

What separates winners and losers at horse racing betting?

If there’s one key thing that separates winning punters from losing punters, its understanding the concept and idea  of “VALUE”.  This has been written about day in and day out but it amazes me how ignored it is every day by a large section of punters in Australia.  Maybe because most punters just don’t understand how to work this out or don’t have the time to spend working this out. It is so in grained in our culture of racing to hear punters say “Who do you like”, when the real question should be “Who do you like and at what price?”


  • Good value means the horse’s market price is greater than its real chance of winning (often referred to as “over the odds.”) For example, a horse at $2.80 in the market (implied 35.7% chance of winning) that is actually a 40% chance of winning (implied $2.50 market price), is considered good value. $2.80 is considered “over the odds” as the correct price should be $2.50.
  • Poor value means the horse’s market price is less than its real chance of winning (often referred to as “under the odds.”) For example, a horse at $3.00 in the market (implied 33.3% chance of winning) that is actually a 28.6% chance of winning (implied $3.50 price), is considered poor value. $3.00 is considered to be “under the odds” as the correct price should be $3.50.

Of course the “actual winning chance” of a horse is very much a subjective concept. What one punter views as good value will be viewed as poor value by another punter. It’s only through a very large sample of bets or assessments that you can start to ascertain whether your overall judgement about value is correct or at least sufficient enough to show a profit.

Using assessed odds for finding value in Horse Racing Betting.

Handicapping is all about assigning a precise probability to a given event. Consider a horse whose true assessed odds are even money. Not what the market is offering on the tote or bookmakers boards. We are saying if a given race were run under the exact conditions 100 times the horse would win 50 of them. The next step involves the Bookmakers odds and the tote board. What price are you being offered?

Let’s say we are being offered 4-5 on the tote. That means if you bet $2 on the horse you’ll get back $3.80. If the Assessed odds are even money, that’s a lousy bet. If you take the bet the horse may still win. But if you make the bet 100 times, you’re certain to lose over time, because the wins cannot make up for the loses. Even if you win in the short term you’ll lose in the long run.

On the other hand, if the tote is offering you $5.20 for your even money chance and it is going to win 50% of the time it is a very good bet.

Where the odds offered on the Tote or the Bookies board are lower than the assessed odds this is what we call an Underlay.  And where the odds on the tote are greater than the Assessed odds this is called an Overlay.

Where to find Assessed Prices.

Many punters work their own odds, however, if you are time poor, finding a good service that can provide you with the information and assessed odds can be a big help.

Here at RaceBiz all our members selections have the additional benefit of including Assessed Prices.  Using our selections and tips you can quickly check what is being offered in the market and work out for each horse if there is an overlay – a good value bet – or an underlay – a bad value bet.

Questions about finding value?

We ae here to help and if you are unsure how to work the concept of VALUE for your strategy to make sure that you are profitable in the long run, let’s have a one-on-one session today.