Interest in greyhound racing has dwindled since its heyday immediately following World War II. Declining attendances in recent decades have resulted in numerous track closures with the result being that in the UK there are now fewer than 20 licensed venues. A similar drop in popularity has occurred in the few other countries where greyhound racing is legal, the likes of New Zealand, Australia and the USA (not all states).
Despite the recent struggles of the sport, dog racing still manages to attract around £2.5bn in betting revenue annually in the UK, plus plenty more overseas. While it seldom makes headlines or draws huge crowds, it is still a big-money business. Much like horse racing, it is one of a limited number of sports that exists primarily as a betting spectacle. People do have their favourite dogs of course but they do not form the same kind of allegiances they might do with a football team or tennis player for instance.
For something to exist primarily as a betting sport, it needs to be entertaining. For those who have experienced it before, a bet on the dogs can provide quite the adrenaline rush thanks to the sport’s high-octane nature. A single race may be over in 30, 20 or even 15 seconds, such is the speed these lightning-fast dogs produce. In that time, you can experience a real variety of emotions as the greyhounds battle desperately to try and get their noses in front.
Here we’ll run through the most popular greyhound betting markets and explain the finer points of some of the more complicated options. And where better to start than simply betting on the nose.
Betting on a Single Race
There is nothing flashy or complicated to see here as this kind of bet simply involves placing a wager on the outcome of one particular race. In most cases, punters will bet on race happening within the next few minutes/hours. Bookies typically only allow bets several days or weeks in advance (known as ante-post betting) for major races. When betting on a single contest, there are a few different markets commonly available which we will now explore in ample detail.
As far as dog racing goes, this is definitely your absolute bread and butter wager. Much like the name suggests, with a win bet you are aiming to back the winner of a selected race. As standard, UK and Ireland races feature six greyhounds providing there are no non-runners. So, all you need to do is pick one (or more) of these six dogs and hope they get their nose first across the finishing line.
The odds on a win only bet can vary massively depending on the perceived strength of the dog. It is not at all unusual to see strong favourites trading at an ‘odds-on’ price, for example, 4/6 (bet £6 to win £4). By odds-on, we mean any price shorter than even money (place £1 to win £1). Before you start thinking it is possible to lose money with an odds-on bet, remember that with a winning bet you will receive your stake back.
With greyhound numbers per race capped at six, or eight in the likes of Australia, you seldom find the huge odds that you might with horse racing. They do still exist in odd races though with massively unfancied dogs available at 66/1, 80/1 or even as high at 100/1. At the lower end of the spectrum, you would very rarely see a dog priced anything under 1/5 (£5 bet returns £1) although it is possible in exceptional races where there is judged to be a huge gulf in quality.
Each Way Bet
Straight win bets are so popular because of their simplicity, excitement and ability to give punters a quick return on their investments. Cheering on a particular dog as it whizzes its way to the line is quite the thrill, especially if there are several other dogs close on its tail. This bet is not your only option however when looking to pick out the winner of the contest. Some punters prefer to hedge their bets somewhat by taking advantage of an each way bet
When placing an each way bet, it is important to bear in mind you are actually placing two separate bets. So, a £1 each way bet on a particular dog will actually cost you £2. In this instance, half of your overall bet, so £1, will back the dog to win. The remaining £1 will back the dog to ‘place’.
What determines if a dog ‘places’ depends on their finishing position and the number of runners in a race as stated in the table below. As most dog races feature six runners, we will use this to give you an example.
Let’s say we backed a dog £1 each way (£2 total bet) at odds of 8/1. If the dog wins, both parts of our each way bet do too as the dog has successfully won and placed as placing is a top-two finish. So, we would receive 8/1 returns on the £1 ‘win’ half of our stake and 2/1 returns on the ‘place’ half. The reason the place half is paid out as 2/1 is because the each way bet uses ¼ odds. In total therefore, from our £2 bet we would receive our full stake back plus an extra £10 (£8 + £2) in profit, so £12 in total.
Continuing with this example, what happens if your selected dog finishes second? In this case, the ‘win’ half of your bet would lose but the ‘place’ half of your bet would be a success. This would mean you receive half of your initial stake back (£1) plus £2 in winnings from the bet itself. So, from your initial £2 outlay, you would end up with £3 in your pocket. Although this is obviously a tiny profit from a very realistic example, you can see how each way betting can provide something of a consolation prize if your dog has to settle for second (or third if there are eight dogs). So, while it is not as lucrative as a win only bet, you do have the benefit of that safety net if luck is not fully on your side.
|Number of Runners||Places Paid||Odds Fraction|
|1 to 4||Win Only||NA|
|5 to 7||1-2||1/4|
Just note that while the table above lists the standard each way terms, it is possible, albeit very rare, for bookies to deviate from this a little. As part of a special promotion, a bookmaker could, in a six-runner race, pay out at 1/3 odds or across three places for instance. Such promotions are far more commonly spotted during major horse racing events than they are with greyhound racing though.
Often written as ‘betting w/o’, bets that fall within this category allow you to effectively exclude a particular dog from an upcoming race. It works in the same way as a standard win bet, in that you aim to choose the dog you think will cross the line first. The big difference however is that you will ignore the finishing position of the excluded runner. In the vast majority of cases, the dog to be excluded will be the race favourite. If you ever see betting w/o and it does not explicitly state the missing dog, know that the shortest-priced option will be the one removed.
When might you use this type of bet? Let’s say Dog C is the hot favourite coming into a race and he is trading at 8/11. You might think he has the best chance of success but you do not believe the bet represents good value for money given the strength of the field. Further down the market you notice Dog E at 7/1 who is the standout option from the remaining five contenders. In this case, you may prefer to back Dog E in the betting without (Dog C) market. In order for this to be a winning bet, Dog E will need to win the race, or finish runner-up behind Dog C.
With these types of bets, the crucial thing to remember is that by removing the favourite from the race, the odds of all the other dogs will shorten. In the example given above, Dog E would not be available at his standard win only price of 7/1, instead it might only be 3/1. The extent of the drop will depend primarily on the odds of the excluded favourite. The shorter their price, the greater the drop will be.
We have already discussed each way bets in which half of your overall stake is on the dog to win, and the other half to place. But what about if you simply want to put your whole stake on a dog to place? Fortunately, if this is what you seek you will find it is something most major bookmakers offer in one form or another. With some, you will find they simply have a ‘place’ market and for such bets your dog will need to finish within the top two (or three if there are eight contenders). You may find this market is called ‘place finish’ or ‘top 2/3 finish’ depending on which bookmaker you use.
A straight place bet differs from an each way bet because regardless of if your dog finishes first or second, you will receive the same pay out. Going back to our example given when discussing each way bets, let’s say we instead backed our dog to simply place. It was 8/1 to win the race but 3/1 to secure a top-two finish. Betting £2 would therefore score us £6 profit if it wound up finishing in the leading duo. If the dog ended up winning, this is less profit than an each way bet would have returned (£10) but more money than an each way bet (£3) had the dog finished second. As a general rule, betting on a place finish is, therefore, a better option over each way if you believe a second-place finish is considerably more likely than a first.
In addition to this, some bookmakers also allow punters to bet on a top-three finish, rather than a top two. This is available for six-dog races too despite third place being outside of the normal paid places range. Obviously, with half the field guaranteed a top-three finish, you do see a lot of odds-on prices within this market. If you are looking for a low-risk bet though, this is the safest market you are likely to find when it comes to dog racing.
Forecast & Tricast Bets
Following on from our discussion of place betting, it seems only appropriate that we should next talk about forecast and tricast betting. The two have similarities in that you care about the finish further down the pack. Unlike a top-two or top-three place bet though, with a forecast/tricast bet you will get much bigger returns. Before we get carried away talking about lucrative payouts though, first we shall focus on what a forecast bet is before moving on to tricast betting.
With a forecast bet, you will need to pick the two dogs you believe will finish first and second. If you are confident of the exact order, you can pick Dog X to finish first and Dog Y to finish second. For this forecast bet to win, this must be the exact finishing order. If Dog Y wins and Dog X comes runner-up, you will not receive any money back.
If you are confident that this is a two-horse (or rather a two-dog) race but you cannot decide on the exact order, you can place a reverse forecast bet. With this, rather than selecting first or second for each dog, you will just choose ‘any’ on both your selected dogs. A reverse forecast costs twice the entered stake as you are effectively making two bets, (Dog X 1st, Dog Y 2nd AND Dog Y 1st, Dog X 2nd). It will therefore pay out the same as if you placed a standard forecast but at double the cost.
A tricast bet, as you can probably guess at this point, works like a forecast only rather than betting on the top two finishes, you are betting on the top three. Like with a forecast bet, if you are feeling brave you can attempt to predict the exact finishing order for a pure tricast wager. It is a tricky task getting the first three runners in the correct order but you will usually be rewarded handsomely if you can pull it off.
Alternatively, for a less risky option, you can pick a trio of dogs to finish in the top three in any order. If opting for this approach though, be mindful that you will be making six separate bets to cover all the possible combinations, meaning it costs six times your stake. If you wanted to pick Dog X, Dog Y and Dog Z to head the field you would need combinations of XYZ, XZY, YXZ, YZX, ZYX, ZXY to cover every eventuality. This is what is known as a combination tricast.
Forecast & Tricast Returns
When adding a forecast or tricast bet to your betslip, you will notice there is no potential returns figure. Even when placing your bets in person, you will not know exactly how much you stand to gain with such a bet. Rather than offering a fixed price, forecast and tricast payouts depend on a number of variables that are determined just after the race gets underway.
The biggest factor in the calculation though is the starting price ‘SP’ of the dogs you pick. The SP is the average industry price (several different bookmaker odds taken into account) that a dog is trading at the moment its race gets underway. This may differ slightly from the odds your chosen bookmaker was offering but usually not drastically.
Although your returns will be something of a mystery, in most cases it is safe to assume you will stand to win a fair whack. The only exception would be in races where there is a clear strong favourite and a clear second favourite, making the top two finish fairly predictable.
Outside of this though, forecast and especially tricast returns can be very lucrative even with small stakes. In a fairly typical greyhound race, a forecast bet might return between £10 and £30 from a £1 bet while a tricast will vary from around £30 to £100 or even more. Remember this is just a general guide though and it is possible to win lower amounts, or much higher. Forecasts and tricasts are generally something reserved for the more experienced bettor but nothing is stopping enthusiastic novices eager for a big win from a small bet.
Trap betting takes two main forms: outside/inside (inside being traps 1,2,3 and outside being 4,5,6) betting or odd trap versus even trap betting. A trap, rather than being something designed to trick you, simply denotes the starting position of a competing greyhound. For every race, a dog will be randomly allocated a trap in advance of the event. The allocation will be clearly marked on the racecard by the large number beside the dog name.
You may consider these kinds of bets as being equivalent to a coin toss but there is more to it than that. You may believe that all odd traps, or all outside traps have the strongest contenders in the race. While you may not be sure exactly which one of them will come first, you are pretty sure it will be one of the trio.
Do not confuse this with a tricast bet though as although three dogs are encompassed within your bet, it is only the winner that matters in this instance. Whether you pick the outside/inside or odd/even trap market, you must get a match with the race winner to see any returns. Typically, these markets will return close to even money given that the chances of odd/even or high/low prevailing will rarely be miles from 50:50.
The remaining type of trap betting market is betting on an individual trap number itself. While this is effectively like betting on a dog, there is a slight difference. Say Dog J was in trap 1 but due to injury he was replaced with a reserve runner. If you had put money on Dog J your bet would be void, something we will discuss in more detail just below. A bet on trap 1 however would still be valid as there is still a dog running from this position.
What Happens If My Chosen Dog, or Another, Withdraws from a Race?
In most cases, all six (or eight) dogs listed on the racecard for a particular race will end up chasing the mechanical hare as it darts around the track. There are times though where a dog is withdrawn from a race late on. This can be due to a number of reasons, such as illness, injury or transportation issues. Should this happen after you have made your bet, it will nearly always have an impact on your wager, even if a reserve runner takes the place of the withdrawn dog. The only cases in which a reserve runner featuring may not alter your bet is if you have bet on a specific trap number to win.
If the dog you bet on is declared a non-runner after placing your bet, your bet will be marked void and you will receive your stake back. The only exception is if you have placed an ante-post bet. This would be a bet on a race scheduled several days, week or months into the future. Such bets are typically only offered for larger races such as the English Greyhound Derby. With these bets you receive better odds than you will likely get on the day of the race, but you face the risk that your chosen runner may not feature.
If another dog pulls out of the race though, the impact on your bet will differ depending on what kind of wager you have placed. If you picked a group of traps market, for example, ‘odd trap to win’, your bet will simply be voided. The same will occur if you picked a dog to finish in the top three or to win without the favourite. In fact, in most instances, your bet will end up being voided. The main exception is if you picked a standard ‘to win’ bet. Here, rather than being paid out at the initially agreed odds, you will be paid out at the starting price instead. This may be marginally lower, or significantly lower, depending on the strength of the non-runner.
The other instance where your bet will remain active following a non-runner is if you placed a forecast/tricast bet. In this case, it does not matter if the non-runner forms part of your bet. If it was not part of your bet, your forecast/tricast carries on as normal but will result in you receiving less in the way of winnings. If one of the dogs you selected pulls out, however, your forecast would simply turn into a win single on the remaining contender. For a tricast bet, your bet would turn into a forecast.
For those of you with a rather fearless nature, multiple bets are likely to keep you satisfied. So far, all the bets we have discussed relate to one particular race, but what about if you want combine bets across several different events? Here is where multiple bets come into play.
To the uninitiated, the world of multiple bets may seem a little overwhelming at first. When you get to grips with the basics though you quickly learn that it generally does make a lot of sense. To begin with, we will cover the most standard multiple bet choices before moving onto the lesser-used and more intriguingly named options.
Firstly, let us start with a double bet. This type of bet would be for two dogs to win their respective races. A double bet can be far more lucrative than placing two single bets on exactly the same races because it is an all or nothing approach. To show you what we mean by this, take a look at the example below.
In two upcoming races, we want to bet on Dog C to win the first contest and Dog E to win the second. Both dogs are priced at 4/1. If we put a £2 single bet on the first race and then again on the second, our total stake would be £4 (£2 x 2 races) and we would earn £16 in profit (£8 x 2) plus our wagered £4 back should both win. If we were to bet this same £4 on a double bet though, if both dogs did end up winning we would bag ourselves a comparatively huge £100 (£98 profit + £2 stake back). How is this possible? It is because a double bet multiples the odds of your selection together, in this case, the calculation would be £4 x (4/1 + 1) x (4/1 + 1) = £100.
You may be thinking at this point, whyever would you place just singles when you can earn so much money by picking a double instead. Well, the most important thing to bear in mind with a double is that you do need both chosen dogs to win. Anything less and you will end up saying goodbye to your stake and any winnings. At least with a single bet, using the example above, if Dog C won but Dog E lost (or vice versa) you would still be £6 in profit as opposed to £4 down.
As you can probably guess, a treble works in much the same way as a double bet, only that your bet will cover three races rather than two. While it is only one additional race, the difference in potential returns can be massive compared to a double bet involving dogs within a similar price range.
To highlight this point, we will carry on from the example above but this time we will add the creatively named Dog F into the mix. We will say that Dog F is slightly stronger than the other selections and is priced at 3/1 for his upcoming event. A successfully £2 treble involving Dog C (4/1), Dog E (4/1) and Dog F (3/1) would see you a whopping £198 richer. By combining not overly unlikely events (3/1 could well be the second favourite) you can end up with potentially massive returns with a treble bet.
As with a double bet, the big downside is that you require all elements of the bet to come off. If two of your dogs win but one finishes runner up following a sloppy final bend, then that is just tough luck. The bookies will gleefully keep your stake without giving you a penny back.
Fourfold’s & Above
Especially with doubles, and to a lesser extent with trebles, punters can create bets that combine big odds with at least a somewhat realistic chance of success. If you are feeling extremely lucky though, the bookies will gladly take even larger combination bets such as four-folds, five-folds and so on. Some bookmakers will call these bets accumulators which is a more general term for a single bet featuring multiple selections.
Accumulator bets attract plenty of interest in sports like football due to the large number of short odds-on prices and fewer total outcomes (win, draw, loss) but less so in dog racing. This does not mean people do not try their luck though even if the odds are firmly stacked against them. If were to pick five dogs at 3/1 odds, the combined odds for this would be a gigantic 2046/1!
Each Way Multiples
It is possible to place each way bets as multiples too, not just as single bets. These work in much the same way in that you effectively have two separate multiple bets, one of which is for all the selections to win, and another which covers all your selections to place. To claim the full possible amount, you will need all your selections to win their respective contests. If, in a double bet, one dog won but the other only placed, you would only receive a payout on the place half of your each way double.
If this sounds a little confusing allow us again to give you a quick example. Say we backed two dogs at 8/1 each way as part of a double bet. Our total stake is £2 (£1 to cover the win, £1 to cover finishing in a placed spot). As stated above, one of the dogs wins but the other dog finishes second. This means we lost the £1 stake which went on backing the win, because not all our dogs managed to win. We would however be paid out on the place half. Using the standard each way terms, we would receive 2/1 odds (a quarter of the original 8/1) on both our selections, providing a total return of £9 (2/1 x 2/1).
Combined Multiple Bets
Although the multiple bets we have discussed above are popular options, largely because they can supply big returns from small wagers, it takes just one bad showing to ruin an entire bet. With other multiple bets though, punters can still see some returns even if some of their selections let them down. In all cases though, the more incorrect selection you make, the smaller your returns.
The downside to these combined multiple bets, as we will explore in more detail below, is that they come at a much larger cost because of all the additional betting lines. With your standard multiple bets, you are simply placing one bet (or two if each way) which covers all your selections to win. With these combined bets, however, you can be making as many as 63 different bets! In all cases, the stake for each line of your bet is of equal value.
You can use a Lucky 15 bet when making four selections. You would then have 15 bets covering four singles, six doubles, four trebles and one fourfold. If placing £0.50 per line, this would cost you £7.50 overall.
Five selections divided into five singles, 10 doubles, 10 trebles, five fourfolds and a single fivefold, creating a combined total of 31 bets.
Six selections divided into six singles, 15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 fourfolds, six fivefolds and a sixfold, creating a huge total of 63 bets.
Rather more simple this one, just three selections divided into three singles, three doubles and one treble, so seven bets overall.
A Yankee is a Lucky 15 bet minus the singles. So, your four selections would be divided into six doubles, four trebles and a fourfold to create 11 bets in total.
As with the standard multiples, you will double your stake if placing these bets each way. A lucky 15 bet for instance would have 15 lines covering the win places and another 15 lines covering a placed finish.
Betting & Laying at Exchanges
Before we conclude this greyhound racing betting guide, we wanted to briefly cover exchange betting. While most people place their bets with on-course or off-course bookmakers, it is possible to place your bets directly against other people, effectively turning yourself into the bookie. Exchange betting is only a relatively small part of the industry but it is something a few sites offer, most notably Betfair. The big advantage, the exchange sites will claim, is that you will get better odds by cutting out the middle man. You do have to remember though that these sites charge a commission, usually anywhere between 2% and 5%.
We won’t go into the ins and outs of how exchanges work but we will point out they do allow users to not only back certain results but lay them too. A lay bet involves essentially betting on an outcome not happening. You might use this if you think a particular dog is very overpriced for a particular race or that it has little realistic chance of winning. Rather than backing it to win, the exchange allows you to back it to lose, or rather accept a bet from someone else who thinks it will win. If you accepted a £10 lay bet on a dog at 4/1 and it does indeed lose, the £10 is yours. Should the dog end up winning though, you would need to fork out £40 just like a bookmaker would.
Exchange betting for greyhound racing is not especially popular but you will find that almost all races attract some interest. While it could be worth exploring for some, as a general recommendation, we would say that most people will be better served by a traditional bookmaker due the greater simplicity.