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What is ante-post betting?

Ante-post betting, also known as futures betting, are longer term bets. We explain what an ante-post betting market is, how they are used for trading and how to calculate your payout. 

Ante-post betting is a longer term bet where bettors trade on the outcome of an event, such as the winner of the Grand National. Betting this far in advance can have greater risks, but also enhanced odds.

The odds offered on a horse will change as the race approaches, but you still get the odds that were in effect at the time you placed your bet.

Ante-post markets generally offer better odds than would be available on outright winner markets closer to the start of the event because there are plenty of variables which can ruin your bet - such as a horse withdrawal or injury.

Ante-post bets on horse racing

Bookmakers and exchanges offer more runners on ante-post bets because the possible number of horses that might run in the race is larger than those declared closer to the running of the race.

The biggest consideration when betting on a horse racing ante-post market is whether or not a horse will actually run.

That’s because selections in ante-post horse racing markets are deemed losing bets if they become non-runners - meaning no reduction factor is applied.  There is one exception where your stake is returned; when a horse is balloted out of a race. This means owners wanted to run the horse but it wasn’t selected because more higher-rated horses were accepted than there were places available. Read Smarkets's ante-post rules for more.

Given the nature of a betting exchange and the duration an ante-post market is up for, bettors have the option to trade out of an ante-post bet for a profit if they are able to identify horses which are over or undervalued when the market is created.

For example, Don Cossack was available at odds of 7.50 in the ante-post market for the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup but shortened to 3.25 by the off.

How to calculate your payout for a back bet on an ante-post market

You can calculate your payout for a back bet on a ante-post market using a simple calculation. Let’s say you backed Don Cossack to win the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup with a stake of £100 at odds of 7.50.

Step 1: Calculate return excluding commission

It’s calculated as:

Odds * Stake = £ return

So in our example: 7.50 * 100 = £750.

If Don Cossack won, your bet would return £750 - including stake, leaving you with a £650 profit.

However, because betting exchanges don’t add a margin into the odds - unlike bookmakers - you now have to subtract the commission from the profit.

Step 2: Calculate return with commission

It’s calculated as:

((Stake * (Odds -1)) * Commission rate

In our example that would be: ((100 * (7.50 -1)) * 2% = £13 commission.

This bet therefore would be charged £13 commission, meaning your return would be £737 - a profit of £637.

Despite the addition of commission, you will generally find that Smarkets has the best price - a result of our industry-low 2% commission on winning bets only.

Once you have learnt how to calculate betting margins, you can compare margins across bookmakers and exchanges to find who offers you the best value odds.

How to calculate your payout for a lay bet on an ante-post market

Unlike a bookmaker when betting on an ante-post market, you can also lay the result. As an example let’s say you lay Don Cossack not to win with a stake of £200 at odds of 5.60.

Similarly to calculating your payout for a back bet, there are two stages for a lay bet.

Step 1: Calculate return excluding commission

It’s calculated as:

Stake = profit

So in our example: £200 = £200

Therefore if any other horse than Don Cossack won the Gold Cup, your bet would win, giving you a £200 profit (before commission).

Step 2: Calculate return with commission

Now you must calculate your lay bet profit, with the exchange commission factored in. At Smarkets - 2% commission - you can use the following calculation:

Stake * 0.98 = profit

In our example that would be: 200 * 0.98 = £196.

Therefore you would be charged £4 commission, meaning your profit would be £196.

It’s important to note when laying outcomes on a betting exchange, you should be aware of your liability - the amount you would payout if the game had finished if Don Cossack had won. This article explains how to calculate liability on an exchange.

For this example if Don Cossack had won, your liability would have been deducted, resulting in a loss of £920.

Apply this to betting

You now understand what an ante-post betting market is, how to make a back and lay bet and how to calculate your payout - giving you the best chance to make a profit on this betting market.


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