Based on my own reaction when I first learned about playing on a betting exchange, the reactions of people who I have spoken with personally over the years, and from the responses to my previous blog post...it is quite clear many folks are looking forward to the opportunity of laying horses.
However, be careful what you wish for. It is not that easy and is actually a very difficult skill-set to learn, being able to lay horses in a profitable way long-term.
Whenever you hear someone talking about a tepid favorite in a race and wishing he/she could bet against a particular animal, most times that horse is in the range of 2-1 to 3-1. Now keep in mind, the odds shown on North American tote boards reflect about a 15% takeout rate. When playing on the betting exchange, there is no rake calculated in the odds as commission is only taken from those players who win on a race (2%-5%, depending on handle).
So alot more often than not, to lay a horse on the betting exchange, one must offer odds slightly higher than what the horse is going off at in the tote because of the difference in takeout.
And when one lays a 5-2 shot at 3-1, that horse must lose 75% of the time just to break even. For it to be profitable long-term laying a 3-1 shot, one must be correct more than 75% of the time.
That's just the sheer math of it. The finances of laying and losing are no fun as when one lays a horse at 3-1 and that horse wins, you lose three times the amount you can win. And it is those sort of inverse odds as to why I don't bet on short-priced favorites.
The damage pysch-wise is difficult to deal with as well. Usually, when one is laying a horse, that individual has reasons for it...racing against bias, negative pace scenario, cold trainer and/or jockey, or just too slow just to name a few...and when the horse you've layed wins, it isn't just the money loss which hurts but the mental anguish which comes losing when laying.
It is much, much easier to just move onto the next race when a horse you've backed loses but when a horse you have layed wins, there is all kinds of self-doubt created asking yourself how this animal which you thought wouldn't win did indeed get the victory.
I will admit laying short-priced favorites is a completely different deal in some ways but when you bet against what appears to be obvious to John Q. Public and the bandwagon horses roll in like Jamie Ness' runners at Tampa and Richard Dutrow, Jr.'s animals in New York do on a regular basis, while easier to stomach, it still hurts.
Please don't let what you've read above discourage you from getting involved with attempting to lay horses when the 'land of the free' finally sorts things out regarding a betting exchange but just this blog entry is just a warning that laying horses, like many things in life, isn't as easy as it appears.
Remember, when playing on the exchange, it is all about price!
- Dave G.