Would You Bet If They Only Gave You Half Your Profit?
Wagering is the skill we all need to improve. And there are some structural elements to wagering on greyhound races that you should be intimately familiar with. Because the deck is stacked against you, and you need to be really really good to turn the odds in your favor.
For example, let's look at takeout. What's takeout? Every time you place a bet on a greyhound race, the track and the government take a percentage of that wager to cover their costs and taxes, respectively. The amount they take out is huge. I mean, really huge. At most tracks, the takeout on anything other than win/place/show betting approaches or even exceeds 25%. So in order to make a profit at the track, you have to overcome the removal of 25% of the money from your potential win pool.
Takeout has an interesting side to it. Quite often, the takeout should whisper to you, "Don't make that bet!"
Let's think about your precious wagers. Let's say that you are going to make a trifecta bet, and you expect that the fair probability of your $1 bet winning is one chance in 500 tries. If you placed this wager 500 times, you would expect to win it once. Your fair income should be $500 if you place a $1 wager on it. So if you hit it, you would then have a $499 profit, right?
Nope. Before you get paid, the track removes the takeout from the pool. So your $500 fair payoff is reduced by 25%, or $125. So instead of giving you your $500, they only give you $375. So your profit of $499 is reduce to a profit of $374! Ouch. Think of that in terms of percentages. Your income is $374 instead of $499, which is (374*100/499) only 74.95% of what you deserved in a fair game, because of the takeout. Obviously this game isn't fair! But we're adults and we realize the track and government must carry on, so we grin and bear it.
But you know, that 74.95% number hints at a problem. With a 25% takeout, why is my profit missing that little .05? Why not 75%? Well, well, well. Now you are asking an interesting question. Let's look and see what happens with takeout and your profits in another situation.
Let's say you have a bet you want to make that you should hit 1 time in 100. At our mythical fair track, you bet $1, and get back $100 for a $99 profit. But with the reality of takeout, you will only get back $75, not $100. So your profit is only $74. In percentages, you got (74*100/99) only 74.75% of what would have been fair. Hey, that's slightly worst than the 1 in 500 case! But only slightly.
What happens with a 1 in 10 bet? You bet $1, and expect to get back $10. But after takeout, they only give you $7.50. So your profit is $6.50 instead of the $9 you expect. In percentage terms, that is (6.5*100/9) only 72.22%. Wait a minute! That's not even close to 75%. As the late great Billy Mays would have said, "But wait, there's more!!"
What about a 1 in 5 bet? You bet $1, expect $5 but get only $3.75. Your profit is only $2.75 instead of the fair amount of $4, which is 68.75%. Ouch!
What about a 1 in 4 bet? You bet $1, expect $4. But you only get $3. Profit is $2 instead of $3, or 66.67%.
See where this is going? How about a 1 in 3 bet? You bet $1, expect to win $3. But they only give you $2.25! Profit is $1.25 instead of $2. That's (1.25*100/2) only 62.5%. Now we're WAY down from 75%, aren't we?!
Now look at a 1 in 2 expectation. You bet $1, and expect to win $2. But they only give you 75%, or $1.50. So your profit is fifty cents instead of a dollar. That's only 50%!!! That really bites, doesn't it?
So in a nutshell, with 25% takeout, if you play a wager that you think should hit HALF THE TIME, they will only give you HALF YOUR FAIR PROFIT.
So looking at the situations detailed above, there are some lessons to be learned about wagering on greyhound races. The higher your real chance of hitting a wager, the less of the "fair" profit you will collect. If you are silly enough to play something that should hit half the time, you will only get half as much profit as you should. The longer the odds, the less brutal the takeout penalty is on your ROI.
Remember, you get to choose what kind of wager you place. So you can choose wagering strategies with low probabilities or you can choose strategies with high probabilities. The higher the probability, though, the better you have to be to overcome the built-in bias against "fair" payoffs. Do you really think your handicapping is good enough to overcome the situation where they only pay you half the profits that would be fair? Maybe not. So consider wagering on events where the probabilities are much longer. You have much less of an obstacle to overcome on a 1 in 10 shot, versus a 1 in 2 shot.
It's about wagering, not handicapping!