The odds in UK betting are traditionally expressed in fractional form – for example, 5/1 (“five-to-one”) or 15/2 (“fifteen-to-two”): see a full explanation in the glossary. With the advent of Internet betting, the traditional overseas form is becoming more common – this is the decimal form, for example, 7.00.

Odds of 5/1 mean that your selection has a one in six chance of winning (in the bookie’s opinion), and your potential winnings are calculated by multiplying the amount you bet by the odds- so if you bet £10 at 5/2, you stand to win £10 * 5/2 = £25. In addition, you get your stake of £10 back.

The simplest bet is a win bet on one horse – a single. If the horse wins, so do you!

A slightly more complicated bet is a double – you bet on two horses to win in two separate races. For example, you might bet £10 on two 5/1 chances. The first one wins, so you get £60 back (£50 winnings plus your stake returned). This £60 is then your stake for the second bet – at odds of 5/1.

A double is an accumulator bet. An accumulator comes in any number of forms – if there are three bets, it is called a treble, and then a four fold bet, a five fold bet, and so on.

Another form of fixed-odds bet is a permutation bet, a bet on any number of permutations from the different combinations of the horses that you select: as an example, consider the Yankee. Suppose you select four horses that you think will win: 1,2,3,4 in separate races. Your bet starts with all six possible doubles – 1 & 2 both winning, 1 & 3, 1 & 4, 2 & 3, 2 & 4 and 3 & 4. You then bet on four possible trebles, 123, 124, 134 and 234, and finally on the chance that all four win 1234. If you add this up, you will find there are eleven bets in total, which means a £10 Yankee would cost £110 and would pay a return if any two or more selections win – of course, whether or not you make any profit depends on the odds of the horses, so such bets are often bets left to the professional punter..

Alternatively you can bet on a horse achieving a place – in some races this would be position one, two or three, in others, one, two, three, or four. The number of places that count for a successful bet depends on the number of competitors, and the odds for a successful place bet will always be reduced – usually one fourth or fifth of the odds of a win. See below!

Each way bets are actually two bets in one – so the first thing to realize is a £10 each way bet costs £20. The first £10 goes on a bet for the selection to win, the second on it to be placed.

So, if you have backed a horse £10 each way at 20/1 in a 10 runner race, you will be charged £20: you are placing two bets – a win bet of £10 at 20/1, and a bet of £10 on your horse coming in a place – a place being first, second or third. So, if the horse wins, you win £10*20 = £200 and you get your returned stake of £10 for the win bet; you also receive one quarter of the odds for the place bet which is £10*20/4 = £50 plus your returned stake of £10 for the place bet. If the horse just achieves second or third, you lose the £10 win stake but you receive the £10*20/4 = £50 plus your returned stake of £10 for the place bet.

The betting shop explained

At Grand National time, one in three adults will place a bet on the race, although most of those will be men. For women, the most intimidating thing can be crossing the threshold. But there is no reason to be fearful – use one of the modern up-to-date high street chains and the atmosphere is welcoming and friendly. To place a bet, you need a betting slip – a piece of paper on which you can write your bet. Betting slips are in dispensers all around the shop. You need to write down what you are betting on, where and when the race takes place, and the amount you are betting, eg Nag’s Head, 2pm Haydock, £1 win. The cashier will take one copy, you take the other. You can place your bet right up until the start of the race. There are racing newspapers dotted around the betting shop, giving ‘tips’ for each race. And in case you think you are going to make a fortune, the shop has to display the rules of the chain such as maximum payouts, so if you want to be sure where you stand, have a look around – no-one will bother you!

If you watch the race, you can get the winnings son after it has finished – alternatively, you might want to come back later, after you have had the chance to digest your elation (or disappointment) at home! It goes without saying that you should only bet what you can afford to lose. But even so, you can shop around for the best odds between shops – online Internet gambling may offer you a way to find the best odds. If you lose your betting slip and you’ve won, simply go into the betting shop where you placed your bet, give them the information you gave them originally and they should be able to find the original slip. However, most bookmakers have a time limit in which you can claim.

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