Online Horse Betting 101: A Quick Beginners Guide

horse betting

Placing bets on horses seems like a relatively simple thing – pick a horse that you think would win, check the odds and place your bet. But under the hood there’s quite an intricate system with different bets, research and more that factor into the process.

In this article we’re going to explore the big wide world of betting on horses. From finding the best horse racing betting odds UK and players from other countries can get their hands on, to the different bet types.

Let’s get into it!

Finding a Site To Bet On

The first thing any player needs to know is how to find the best place to make their bet. Picking a reputable betting site that has great odds is key to not just long term horse betting success – but also any one off bets you want to make.

The most important things to look for in any site you choose is that it  needs to have a great range of odds, full SSL security to keep your details and have a name you trust. 

Odds Explained

Horse racing odds are one of the key parts in betting – you may have your eye on a certain horse but find that the odds are terrible! Here’s how to decipher the odds of any horse you’re thinking of placing a bet on: Whilst we’re going off fractional odds in this example, many online bookmakers will allow you to change how the odds are shown. 

The odds of a horse will be displayed as two numbers with a slash between them – such as 8/1. This means that for every £1 you bet on the horse, you’ll get £8 back, as well as your initial stake. So if you placed a bet of £10 on an 8/1 horse and your bet came in, you’d get £80 plus your original £10 stake, so £90 all together.

Odds don’t always end in a 1 – you can get odds such as 8/3 or even with a larger number on the right hand side.This is known as the horse being odds on and is a sign that the bookmaker is favouring that horse for that bet.

The Different Types of Bet You Can Make

Now that we understand the basics of how the odds work, we’re going to delve into the different bets you can make- there’s a few!


As the name suggests, you place this bet if you think the horse is going to straight up win the race.

Each Way

An each way bet is a bet that whichever horse you select will ‘place’ or win. The terms for placing vary between races and how many horses are competing in said race – although it’s very common that placing is a horse making the top two or three. 

Whilst you have an increased chance of the bet coming in, the odds are quite drastically lower than just picking a straight up win, with the each way bet picking up only a fraction of the full odds – usually a quarter.

Each way bets are a bit more complicated than straight win bets. Let’s say you place a £10 each way bet on a horse that has 4/1 odds. That bet will cost you double your initial stake, so £20 overall. £10 of this bet goes towards the win, whilst another £10 goes towards the each way part of the bet.

If the horse ends up winning the race, you get the full odds – in this case, £40, as well as your £10 bet portion back. You’ll also get your each way bet, which would be ¼ of the 4/1 odds. This equals 1/1, so you’d get £10 plus your original each way stake of £10 on top.

So in the above example, if the horse came first you’d end up with a total of £70 – £50 from your win bet and £20 from the each way bet. Not a bad little profit!

If the horse comes second or third with certain place rules, then you’d just get the winnings each way but lose the win portion of the bet. Using the same example as before, if the each way bet came in you’d only walk away with £20, ending up evens with no money lost from your initial stake.


A double means you back horses in two totally different events – so you could back a horse at Cheltenham and one a Newbury. A treble works in the same fashion but with a bet on three horses in three different events, and there’s also a yankee which is four horses.

Straight Forecast

This bet requires you to pick the top two finishing horses in any race in the right order.

Reverse Forecast

The same as the simple forecast, but you don’t need to get the order correct.


If you’re feeling particularly lucky, a tricast bet is the same as a straight forecast except you’re picking the top 3 horses and the order they will finish in.

So there you go – If you just watch the horses every now and again to relieve stress, it’s always good to know how horse betting works or even refresh your knowledge if you’re a pro.


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