Lay betting in horse racing is an interesting form of gambling because it is the exact opposite of the type of bet you would normally make. Instead of betting on a horse you think can win, you are actually betting on the horse to lose. If any other horse wins the race than the one you selected, you win the bet. If your horse wins the race, then you have to pay out.
In addition to picking against your horse to win, another tempting aspect to lay betting is you are assuming the role of the house or bookmaker. Say there are eight horses in a race. This means seven of them will be losers, but in case of a lay bet, all seven of them could actually make your bet a winner. In this sense, the odds are definitely in your favor.
Although gamblers will have their own opinions on the best way to make lay bets in horse racing, quite often the best option is to pick the favorite to lose. The odds on picking the favorite will offer the best value bet and have a greater chance of paying off than a back bet, which is picking the favorite to win. In a back bet, if the horse wins, you win. If it doesn't win, you lose. The statistics on this can vary, but in horse racing, the favorite usually wins around 33 percent of the time.
Keep in mind some races are better suited for lay bets than others. Ideally, you want a race in which it's difficult to predict the race and one that also has multiple horses that are considered favorites with short odds. The lower the odds are on a horse, the less you have to pay out if it wins. The more likely it is for a number of horses to possibly win, the more likely it is your lay bet will also produce a winner.
As some races are more conducive for lay bets because of the odds, different types of races can also work in your favor because of their unpredictability.
Sprint races are hard to call and often produce favorites with short odds that don't win. Additional races that are hard to predict include handicaps in which weights are used to make the horses more equal and therefore produce lower odds. Because the horses are largely unproven, races for juveniles (two-year-olds) and races early in the year for three-year-olds also tend to be unpredictable and represent good opportunities for lay bets.
Although they are most commonly found in horse racing, lay bets can also be found in other sports such as soccer, golf, and tennis. In cases such as these, you are also betting on a team or athlete not to win their game or match. With the opportunity to play the role of the bookmaker and the chance to get good odds, lay bets are an option that gamblers should consider.