This page started life with an article from Malcolm Pett that asked the simple question “can you make money backing favourites”.
Malcolms original article is included below but before we get to that, a few thoughts from 2019.
The first thing to say is that you can’t bet all favourites and expect to make a profit.
That’s just not how the betting market works, there is always a profit margin built into a bookies prices, but because it isn’t an exact science not all prices reflect the true chance of the horse.
And so it is possible to cherry pick the best value favourites and to make a profit from those.
The headline fact is that favourites have won 34.99% of all races over the last 10 years up to November 2019.
If you had bet them all for £1 you would have been on 114584 bets, won 40,088 times and lost £7,904 at industry SP.
Your ROI would have been – 6.9%.
The split is pretty even across Flat, All Weather and National Hunt.
That is a pretty small loss percentage wise and that is what we have to overcome to make a profit.
One way to do that is to drill down into a sub set of races, a very small subset like this system
Another is to search for false favourites. favourites that are at the head of the market on hype rather than proven form, favourites that are on unproven ground or have some other negative factor that is against them.
As with any backing if you can bet at best odds guaranteed then you can squeeze another few percentage points from your bets.
Although we all ultimately have BOG taken from us as we become more successful, if you still have it take advantage.
It is fair to say that the bookies are a lot more tolerant of punters who bet and win on shorter priced selections and your account and privileges.
You can get even closer to making a profit with Betfair SP. in fact the loss we reported above for all favourites for the past 5 years reduces to 3575 when betting at Betfair SP and ROI of – 3.12%.
Psychologically betting favourites is a good idea, many a bettor has abandoned a winning strategy because they couldn’t tolerate a losing run.
What we really want to do when we bet favourites is to bet at a high strike rate with shorter losing runs.
Other options are to bet favourites in the place only markets at Betfair, which will get you a much higher strike rate.
Or dutching together selections to have multiple runners in a race and of course a much higher strike rate. You can use our dutching tool to work out you stakes.
Here is a more detailed article and a system for backing the favourite in UK horse racing
Here is Malcolm's original article from 2014…
Today we have our regular Wednesday article from Malcolm Pett and this week's subject is backing favourites for a living
Can you make money backing favourites?
Most people tell you that there is no value in backing favourites and you should stay clear of them and look for those “outsiders” that come in now and then, at a really good value.
It sounds plausible except almost 80% of all winners come from the top 3 or 4 in the betting and so although it’s not rare to see an outsider come in at great value…
…It’s not easy finding and identifying them.
Backing Favourites for a Living
If you have read any of my articles then you are probably aware that I tend to go on about strike rate and average winning odds a lot.
There is good reason for this…
…They are important…very important.
At the end of the day all that matters is that these two figures stack up and make you a profit.
If you go for the lower strike rate range then you will need higher odds to make money.
Where a higher strike rate means you need lower odds to make money.
So it doesn’t matter if you are on favourites or outsiders the figures still have to add up.
People love going on about finding value and if you like being a detective then it is really good fun.
But value bets winning are rare and so even if you get good at spotting them your strike rate is still going to be low, meaning you will get a lot of losers before finding a winner.
Looking for value bets also needs a big bank roll and you need to know when to take advantage of the odds available.
I follow a number of systems like this and you soon find out that you have to go through losing runs of 20, 30 or even 50, to make these systems work.
Not many people are prepared to do this and not many people have the bank to support it.
I am not saying you shouldn’t have high price value strategies…
…I am just saying it probably doesn’t want to be your only strategy.
But we have already talked about there being no profit in favourites so what else can we do?
Well let’s discuss that for a moment.
Let us say that we came up with a system that uses favourites and has an average strike rate of 50%.
That means “on average” we win one bet and we lose one bet.
So every time we lose…we lose 1 point which means every time we win we need to do better than 1 pt to make money.
In fact if we take Betfair prices where we can generally do a little better then we need an average winning price of 1.05, just to break even.
So let’s say for arguments sake we get on average a winning price 1.26 (2.26).
1.26 * 5% = 0.06 = 1.20 profit
So if we had 100 selections in a month and won on 50 of them it would look like this…
50 * 1.20 = 60 – 50 = 10 points.
So as you can see we don’t have to have a very high “average winning odds” to make a decent amount of points every month.
The thing is to test…it’s no good saying you cannot make money on favourites unless you try some strategies over 2 or 3 months. If you pick well then even if you don’t get the prices you need. You are unlikely to lose as much as you would following a low strike rate high value system with long losing runs.