What makes a good value bet?

Unfortunately, there is no cut-and-dried answer to the question of what makes a good value bet. Every horse in a race has an implied probability, or percentage chance, of winning, which is reprented by the odds offered by the bookmakers. Obviously, a good value bet is a bet ‘over the odds’ or, in other words, a bet at odds which represent an implied chance of winning greater than the ‘real’ chance of winning. However, horse racing is a game of opinions and value, while a key element of profitable betting, is an elusive and subjective concept.

Notwithstanding the need to ‘balance’ their book, bookmakers employ odds compilers to set their prices, at least initially, based on form, statistics and a generous helping of opinion. Informed opinion it may be, reached through sound analysis of the available data, but nonetheless a subjective view on the likely outcome of a race. Of course, the initial odds offered may lengthen or shorten, over time, according to market forces.

Consequently, establishing what is, and what is not, a good value bet involves forming your own, considered opinion and comparing it with that of the bookmakers. Note that finding value does not, necessarily, mean betting indiscriminately on outsiders, but rather betting on horses whose odds are longer than they should be, in your estimation. Even a short-priced favourite can offer some, albeit not much, value if, in your opinion, it should be sent off at odds even shorter than those currently on offer.