Let's talk about... best time to bet | Ben Linfoot begins this discussion

When's the best time to place a bet?

When's the best time to strike a wager these days? Our Value Bet tipster Ben Linfoot begins this discussion and we want your views on the topic.

Our series continues with our Value Bet tipster Ben Linfoot offering his thoughts on when is the best time to place a bet these days, with a traditional fixed-odds bookmaker at least.

We want your feedback. What are the factors at work here and when is the best time to place a wager? Check out details of how to contact us towards the foot of the article and don't forget to send in your ideas for topics. This one was the brainchild of Martyn Weston.


Ben Linfoot: Mid-morning on a Saturday

I’ll tell you when the worst time to have a bet is – 5pm on a Friday night!

In all seriousness, though, I must stress there’s a big difference in the best time to have a bet and the best time to put out a value-based tipping column.

Shelf life, as my editor will tell you, is pretty important in our world and as we’re in the entertainment business (keep your jokes to yourselves, please) we have to serve the audience what they want - and our readers want to read previews on the next day’s racing the night before the action.

On top of this, go too early and you’re alienating a lot of people. Not everyone can get on with the layers who go up first, so you need the market to settle down somewhat which means waiting for just about every fixed-odds bookmaker on that oddschecker grid to display their odds, if possible.

That’s why 5pm the night before racing is a good time to publish Value Bet, but it’s not the best time to have a wager.

Saturday mornings used to be in the golden days of the Pricewise guarantee, but the age of the internet eventually scuppered that and you gain very little by being alert and keen at 830am on a weekend these days.

A few hours later, though, is a different story. Mid-morning on Saturday is a good time to have a bet now. The markets have settled down, the tipsters have had their say, a few bookmakers puff their chests out and there’s generally good betting opportunities for almost everyone.

In a perfect world the best time to have a bet is still as soon as the layers go up with prices. That’s unrealistic for everybody due to restrictions, so after that you’re probably best off waiting until the 15-minutes of trading before the race.

But, personally, that mid-morning window on a Saturday, works for me.

Thanks to Martyn Weston for this topic – please get in touch via the means below with your views on the best time to have a bet. And if you have any suggestions in which we at Sporting Life can help with your punting, in terms of different styles of preview, please let us know.


Send us your views

Send your comments and contributions to racingfeedback@sportinglife.com and if you’ve any ideas for more topics you want covering over the coming days and weeks please let us know.


Dave Gibson: The best time to bet is around midday as you can see where the market is taking shape but sometimes it not always the case as during a late betting plunge just before a race can also Knock the price of the horse you fancy out in the market. Saying that many factors can come into play like Which meeting you at at and the flow of support in the betting ring or Betfair. Let's hope we get some racing soon in England and Ireland. Stay safe and secure and healthy.

Colin Stevens: Martyn and Mark give good advice with regards to betting the night before a race. Both say that BOG Is essential. Eminently sensible. I’d like to know who they get BOG with the night before a race. In my experience the big firms now only offer this on the day of the race. They’ve restricted the time BOG is available. Who offers BOG the night before?

The let’s talk about are a great series of articles. As are the matching football and cricket ones. Great work by all of the team. Much appreciated.

Doug: Hi guys, a very interesting topic today (sorry I'm late with a response)! For me when to bet isn't really a choice but is largely dependant on work commitments. I work full time 9-5 in an office where all gambling sites (including sportinglife) are blocked. So I literally can't study the racecards until after work by which time Ben's column is out and the markets start to change. But still, I could place a bet Friday evening at 8pm and get decent odds on selections away from the top races Ben covers. That used to suit me as BOG concession was in play and I could take the price. Unfortunately most layers, including Skybet, now only offer BOG on the day of the race so I do feel the punting landscape is changing. It could be that come the flat turf season (living in hope it's sooner not later), punters need to re-adjust strategy on when to bet. It could be 10am or 11am race day becomes best time to bet. Markets are more mature, bookmakers can gauge liabilities and traders start to trade and lengthen odds here and there offering up possible selections to again become value.

Simon from Newark: I bet in very small stakes these days, as much for simple pleasure as the small profit I make. I watch two trainers, one National Hunt, the other an all-weather specialist; but do not follow them slavishly. Their horses generally are well supported when they run well.

I look at the next day's cards around 5.00pm. If there are any potential bets I do a bit of obvious research - is the horse coming down in the ratings, does it go on the ground, and crucially who is riding it.

If enough factors are my favour and the odds seem reasonable, I will have a nibble. Quite often I beat the SP. If the odds drift dramatically on race day I have the option of the best odds guaranteed and sticking with the bet, or can choose to cash out for very little loss of stake. Seems like the proverbial win-win.

Nick: Good evening. All I want to know is if the darn thing is going to run! I want to be able to tap in the name of the horse on Google, the RP, SL, or wherever, and get some up to date info on whether the horse is a. healthy and b. an intended runner (I don't need the tips, just facts as they exist at the time). I can then get on at the first show, or whenever I fancy, with some degree of confidence.

Obviously the ground, a mishap, a double engagement etc, may necessitate a withdrawal, which is fair enough, but I'm often on at a fair price only for the horse not to be declared with absolutely no reason available. I think that's a poor show, if you'll excuse the pun.

So, in answer to your question, the best time to place a bet is when the odds on a horse you fancy are higher than you expect it to start at, AND you have every reason to believe it's going to run. If neither applies, then either final decs or 10 am morning of the race, is the way to go.

Big River, before winning the time before last at it's fav track, Kelso, must have NOT been in the final decs on 2 or 3 separate (if I'm not mistaken!) occasions. I have no idea why, despite searching high and low, and this is a good example of how annoying it can be.

It's all good FUN, when all is said and done.

Martyn Weston: A topic that really interests me. For a start, I am that person who makes his bets at 5pm the night before (if price is right). I get the comments about allowing people to get on and the market to form , but I work purely off my own bat and do not use any tips or inside information, so I am happy to place my bet at the first show (providing the price is value in my opinion)

I also mostly bet with bookies who offer best odds guaranteed,so if I have got it wrong and backed a horse a 4/1 that goes off at 10/1, it makes no difference as drifters can and still do win and I get paid at best price.

48 hours decs on the flat really help with placing bets early, as it allows you the time to work ahead and be ready to place your bet in time for when the first market goes up.

Its quite a subjective topic, but I find placing bets early works really well for me. I often beat the market and I don’t arb / lay off (not sure many do these days), that don’t mean I often win when beating the market, but I like beating the market and achieve the best value price on a regular basis.

I hear a lot of people say if you beat the market regularly that you will have accounts closed, its not something I have experienced. Personally, I only use one standard bookmaker and the exchanges and the bookmaker I use have never closed my account (If I wasn’t successful to some degree, I simply wouldn’t bet). I do wonder if the bookie does use my account as some sort of price marker though.

Overall, I still believe the most obvious time a bookie will make a mistake on prices is on that opening show. There is no liquidity in the exchange market at that time and it’s the time when a bookie is doing what a bookie traditionally did and price a race on their knowledge/form/data, rather than letting the exchanges dictate the prices in the market hours later.

Steve Baille: Hope everyone is well. Interesting article today again! Picking up on a couple of Martyn’s points, I’m surprised that one bookmaker would let you consistently beat SP. All my experience suggests early restrictions to pennies even after winning a small amount.

Barry Hill: I nearly always bet on the Betfair Exchange and usually confine my bets to large field handicaps in the top grade races on Saturday or other major race race days as I feel the better horses run to form more consistently and are more likely to be tuned up for the race. I usually pick out my selection soon after the 2 day declarations are published and put in my bid when the Exchange opens and then sit on my hands and hope for a good price. More often than not you can get a good price in the early betting. I try not to follow the course of the betting until near the race time, but must admit that my resolve does fail from time to time and I reduce the price I seek if the odds are falling; and usually regret it

I agree with another respondent on the question of limited stakes. I do occasionally try to make a bet on the Betfair Sportsbook and, even though I only bet to small stakes, usually £3 and a maximum of £5, I find that when I try to take an attractive price I am nearly always limited in my stake, often to as low as 40p or 50p. I can understand them limiting large bets, but to advertise a price and then only allow a 50p bet is ridiculous.

Mark Heritage: I'm with Martyn. By about 5.30, a couple of firms have priced up and that's the time when there is sometimes value to be had. The value angle is naturally subjective, but covering with BOG is a must. I go racing a fair amount and I NEVER bet with the bookies on course. It's obviously a cartel now, with so little variance down the line. Such a shame, because it was more than half the fun trekking along looking for value. Keep up the good work.


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