Beginners Guide To Harness Racing Betting

Table Of Contents

1. Introduction to Harness Racing

    • What is harness racing?

      Harness racing is a type of horse racing where horses trot or pace. Usually they pull a driver in a two-wheeled cart called a sulky.  Other harness race type is monté where the jockey rides the horse.

    • Key differences between harness racing and other types of horse racing.

      In harness racing, horses have to follow rules about how they can run. They can’t gallop like in other races. This makes the race more tactical and a bit different from other types of horse racing.

2. Understanding the Basics

    • Starting Methods in Harness Racing

       In some harness races, horses start the race behind a special car. This car has a gate that folds out on each side. The horses line up behind the gate, and when the race starts, the car speeds up and the gate folds in. The horses then follow the car until it gets off the track, and the race begins.

      Another way to start a harness race is called a volt start. In this method, horses line up across the track behind a starting line running in a circle. When the race begins, the horses trot or pace forward from a their current position. This requires a lot of skill from the driver to get a good position early in the race. In volt starts a handicap is usually set so runners start with x amount of meters behind each handicap group.

    • Equipment used in harness racing.

      A sulky is a lightweight cart used in harness racing. The main differences between a regular sulky and an American sulky are often in design and construction, which can affect performance:

      Regular Sulky: Typically has a more traditional design with a longer frame that extends further behind the horse. This design is believed to provide more stability but can be heavier.
      American Sulky: Often features a more modern design with a shorter frame, making it lighter and potentially faster. The wheels are usually larger and positioned closer to the horse, which can offer better aerodynamics.
      Both types of sulkies are designed to minimize weight and resistance to maximize the horse’s speed and the driver’s control.

      Monté races are a type of harness racing where the jockey rides the horse like in thoroughbred racing, instead of sitting in a sulky. 

3. The Betting System

    • Types of bets: win, place, show, exacta, trifecta, etc.

      When you bet on harness racing, you can choose from variety of different types of bets. Some bets are simple, like picking the horse you think will win. Other bets are more complex, where you try to guess the order of the first two or three horses. The types of bets you can make might differ depending on the provider you’re betting with. But for example:

      Single Race Bet Types
      Win: You bet on a horse you think will come in first.
      Show: You bet on a horse to come in first, second, or third.
      Exacta: You pick the first two horses in the exact order.
      Quinella: You pick the first two horses in any order.
      Trifecta: You choose the first three horses in the exact order.

      Multi Race Bet Types
      You bet on a horse you think will come in first in two races stated by the bookmaker.
      Pick5, V4, Toto4 etc.: You bet on a horse you think will come in first in x amount races stated by the bookmaker. There is only one win dividend group
      V64, Toto75, V86 etc: You bet on a horse you think will come in first in x amount races stated by the bookmaker. There are two or three win dividend groups and the pool is divided between those groups as stated by the bookmaker. 

    • How to read a race program: understanding entries, and statistics.
      A race program is like a guidebook for the day’s races. It tells you about the horses, their past races, and how they might perform. Online race programs also shows the odds, which tell you how likely a horse is to win and how much money you could win if you bet on it.
    •  Odds  Odds are numbers that show how much money you can win if your horse does well. They change as people bet, until the race starts.
    • Tote system and how odds are calculated.
      Tote betting, or pool betting, is like a jackpot at a party. Everyone puts their bet into a big pot. After the race, the money in the pot is shared among the winners. The more people who bet on your winning horse, the less money you get because you have to share with all of them. The odds you actually get will change until the race starts.
    • Fixed odds system and how odds are calculated.
      Fixed odds betting is like agreeing on a price for something before you buy it. If you bet on a horse at 5/1 odds, and it wins, you get 5 times your bet plus your original bet back, no matter what happens to the odds later.


4. Strategies for Beginners

    • Bankroll management: setting a budget and sticking to it.
      Before you start any sort of betting venture, decide how much money you’re okay with spending.
      More about bankroll management: Bank Roll Management And Kelly Criterion
    • Basic betting strategies
      Stick to simple bet types such as win/show. Bet more complex bet types only with a syndicate and on a jackpot events. Remember that the jackpot on V / Pick X pools are usually only shared on the major dividend group, so betting only the major dividend group increases your theoretical payout.
      Follow the Favorites. Usually beginners like to bet on longshots instead of favourites. Due to this phenomeon odds for longshots are usually far less fair than for favorites. So, in the long run, you might lose less money by blindly betting on favorites than on longshots.
    • Common mistakes to avoid.
      Don’t Bet on Every Race: You don’t have to bet all the time. Wait for races where you feel confident about your choice.
      Learn from Losses: If you lose a bet, try to understand why. It can help you make better bets in the future.
      Also acknowledge the fact that harness racing is a multi variable event with lot of randomness and variance. Even professional bettors can have several losing seasons especially in the more complex bet types such as Pick X /  V-bets. 
      More about Pick X/ V-bet type risk management and theroy

5. Advanced Betting Concepts

    • Handicapping and building a model
      Handicapping is when you look at different variables that could affect the race’s outcome. This includes for example:  how fast the horses have run before, pace / runners in race positioning, changes in equipment,  the weather, etc etc.
      For example our main betting model is based on several historical datasets and livedata from the track. Each of our betting model is designed for their own country / purpose. With current day and age technology anyone can build similar machine learning or regression models rather easily. The key when using a model is to always backtest your model before jumping into conclusions and also accpeting the fact that the main difficulty in betting is not having the most sophisticated model, but managing the risk and focusing on finding the most profitable races.
    • Value betting: finding the best odds.
      Value betting means finding bets that have better odds than they should. Imagine you find a pair of shoes that you know are usually priced at $100, but you find them for $80. That’s a good deal, right? It’s the same with betting. If you think a runner has a 50% chance to win, but the bookie offers you 2.10 odds, you’re getting more for your money, just like the shoes on sale. So, value betting is about finding bets that are priced better than they should be, based on what you think the real chances are.
      More about Value Betting
    • Closing odds
      Ccorrelation between closing odds and actual probability is rather close. Acknowledging this fact will help you to smooth your own probability calculations. 
      More about Closing Odds Compared To Probability

6. Responsible Betting

    • The importance of betting within your means.
      It’s important to only bet money you can afford to lose. Set a limit for how much you want to spend and stick to it. This way, you can enjoy the races without worrying about losing too much money.
    • Resources for responsible gambling.
      If you find betting is causing problems, there are places that can help. Look for gambling support groups or websites that offer advice on how to bet responsibly.
    • How to enjoy harness racing without betting.
      Remember, you can enjoy harness racing even if you don’t bet. Watching the races and cheering for your favorite horses can be just as exciting.

7. Getting Involved

    • Joining a community: forums, social media groups, and local clubs.
      There are several social media forums (such as X and Facerbook) where people talk about harness racing. Joining one can help you learn from others and share your own experiences. It’s a good way to make friends who also love the sport.