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Spread Betting

If you would like to try something different, take a look at Spread Betting. It's not for the faint hearted, but there is money to be made if you get it right. Spread Betting also offers a number of different betting opportunities that are not available to you through fixed odds or even the exchanges. Historically it comes from a background related to financial services and the stock market, but over the past few years more and more people have been attracted by the flexibility it offers for betting on horse racing and a variety of other sports.

What is Spread Betting?
I guess the principle of spread betting is you choose whether to bet high or low. It's a bit like the old TV program Play Your Cards Right, where the contestants had to decide whether to back the next card to be turned over would be high or low.

As far as horse racing goes there are a number of different types of bet that are open to you. These include The Favourites Index, the Jockeys Index, Winning Distances, Doubles, Winners Starting Prices and Matched Bets.

Probably the best way of seeing how spread betting works is to run through some examples.

Lets start with the Favourites Index.

A meeting will be selected. For example let's say the main meeting of the day is at Sandown Park. Every favourite that wins will be awarded 25 points. Every favourite that is placed second will score 10 points and a favourite that runs on to be third picks up 5 points. Favourites finishing outside the first three don't score any points at all.

Before racing begins a Spread Betting company will publish an index. For our example we will say the meeting consists of a six race card, there are a number of small fields and some of the favourites are fancied to run big races. The index quoted will be quite high as it is expected that the favourites will run up a lot of points during the afternoon. So the index is quoted at 82-86.

If you think that the favourites will do even better than that you would buy the index at 86. If in your opinion there were some dodgy favourites you would sell the index at 82. You bet in pounds per point. Someone new to spread betting may decide to bet 2 per point.

At the end of the afternoon the favourites have done well. Three won (giving 75 points), one was second (10 points), one was third (5 points) and one was unplaced (no points). Therefore the number of points earned was 90 points.

If you had bought the index at 86 you would have won 4 points. By backing at 2 per point you would have won 8 (4 points x 2).

If on the other hand you had sold the index at 82 you wouldn't have done so well at all. You would have lost 8 points. Again by backing at 2 per point you would have lost 16 (8 points x 2).

The majority of the other indices work in a similar way. With The Jockeys Index you will find a spread quoted against each of the leading jockeys at a meeting. For example if you thought that Frankie Dettori was going to have a good day you would consider buying his index. If you thought that he had been booked to ride some rather un genuine characters you would sell his index. In the same way that the favourites index works Frankie is allotted points each time he come first (25 points), second (10 points) or third (5 points). Finishing outside the first three means that he would draw a blank as far as points are concerned.

One other important thing to keep in mind is that the quotes spread can change. For example if everyone felt that Frankie Dettori was going to have a good afternoon then the index would be adjusted accordingly. This can lead to arbitrage opportunities. An example of an arbitrage opportunity is where you buy the index at 40 points. Throughout the morning it rises steadily so that you can sell at 50 points. This means that you have made a 10 point profit before racing even starts.

Where can gain access to Spread Betting?
To start spread betting you need to open an account. Once your account is open then you can trade either over the telephone or over the Internet.

Is Spread Betting dangerous?
To be quite honest it can be both exciting and financially dangerous as well. It can all go horribly wrong very quickly. If you decide to try your hand at spread betting then make sure you start off by betting small amounts. One spread betting company, Sporting Index, offer you the chance to open a pretend account so that you can try spread betting out to see if it is right for you without losing your shirt. Another option is to open a Bet HiLI where you can start by using stakes as low as a penny.


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