Early price and Starting price
Most bookmakers will offer you the choice between an early fixed price (EP) or a starting price (SP). The early fixed price is offered before the race and will normally (see rule 4 deductions below) not change. The starting price is the price of the horse at the time the race commences.
Which price should you go for? Well, it depends on what you think other bettors will do.
Example: Two hours before a race you are offered the early fixed price of 4-1 for Bonnie as a winner.
- If you think that Bonnie will be a favorite among the other bettors who will make bets later, you should take this price because all the new bets on Bonnie as a winner will drive down the odds so you want a fixed odds that isn’t impacted by this. If you wait, you might find that the odds offered for Bonnie as a winner drops to just 3-1 or 2-1.
- If, on the other hand, you think that one or more other horses will be more popular among the punters than Bonnie, it makes sense to wait. The odds for Bonnie as a winner might go up, and you will be able to make your wager at 5-1, 6-1, or even higher if you wait for the starting price.
A common strategy among punters is to make one bet at early fixed price and then another bet on the same horse at starting price.
Rule 4 Deductions
Many bookmakers will apply so called “Rule 4 deductions” when horses are withdrawn prior to races. A rule 4 deduction reduces the odds, and therefore reduces your payout in case of a win. The logic behind this is that you have been advantaged by the fact that the horse was withdrawn from the race, since it meant that one of your selected horse’s competitors disappeared.
Example: You bet €100 on a horse at 8-1. Another horse is withdrawn from the race, and the bookmakers applies a 25 percent rule 4 deduction. When your horse wins, you are paid 6-1 instead of 8-1 (8 x 0.75 = 6). You are paid €600 (and get your €100 wager back, so €700 in total).
How large a rule 4 deduction is depends on the odds of the withdrawn horse at the time it was withdrawn from the race. So, if a favorite horse with a 2/1 odds is withdrawn, the rule 4 deduction will be big. If, on the other hand, the withdrawn horse is an outsider with a 20/1 odds, the rule 4 deduction will be small.
Rule 4 deductions apply to fixed price bets made before the withdrawal of a horse from a race. If you make a fixed price bet after the horse has been withdrawn, the fixed price has already been adjusted.
Rule 4 deductions rarely apply to starting price bets, but will apply in situations where the withdrawal of the horse is made very late and there isn’t enough time left to change the market price.
Always check the rules of the specific bookmakers that you wish to make your wager with, because the rules outline above are just rules that are used by many bookmakers – not all bookmakers. Betfair is for instance known to have their own modified rules for rule 4 deductions. They base their deductions on digital odds.