Greyhound Handicapping: Odds

Eb Netr

March 27th, 2013

When I first went to the dog track, I didn't pay much attention to the odds on the board. I looked at them in the program and then ignored them until I won and found out how much I was going to get. Or until I lost and found out that the dog I played was at very long odds. I've gotten older and wiser over the years. Now, I pay a lot more attention to the odds.

I still handicap and pick the dogs I'm going to play. That hasn't changed. But instead of just putting my bets down before the races start, like I used to do, I wait. I watch the odds before the race, especially when they first come up. What I'm looking for is that first number, when the morning line odds disappear and the first odds from people putting money on the dogs comes up.

As soon as this happens, I write down the odds beside each dog in the race. Sometimes, they're about the same as the morning line odds. Other times though, one or more of the dogs have much lower or higher odds than you'd expect from the morning line. This tells me something.

If the first odds on the toteboard are much lower than the morning line odds, that tells me that someone thinks the dog has a very good chance of winning the race. So, do I immediately bet the dog with the low odds? No, I don't. Even if it's the dog I've picked for a win bet, I wait to see how the odds change on all the dogs.

Sometimes, especially in the first race, people play numbers or post positions that they know are good. The 1 box at Palm Beach, for instance, has an advantage and people who play PBKC all the time know this. They play the 1 in doubles and to win in the first race, because they have no other information about how post position is going to do that day, other than what's happened on other programs.

But, sometimes, the odds are very low on a dog because all of its connections are playing it, because they know it's in top form and has a very good chance of winning this race. This isn't true all the time, but it does happen. It happens at the horse track and at the dog track and it's something to watch for when you play online.

If this is the case, gradually the odds will move up on the dog, as the crowd plays other dogs. But they'll usually stay lower than its morning line odds and may even go much lower again, just before the race goes off. Some handicappers call this a "tell", a word they got from poker players, who use it to describe how players reveal what's in their hand by body language or nervous habits.

I won't play these dogs to win, automatically. But if I see this happening on Bet America's toteboard, and I like the dog anyway, I may put more on it than I planned to and key it in exotics. I prefer to rely on my own handicapping, rather than using tips or information from other people. But sometimes, you have to go with inside information and this is what this is.

If the odds are much higher on a dog than the morning line odds, it's a red flag for me. It tells me that most of the handicappers have decided - for whatever reason - that the dog has a reason for being at high odds. Sometimes, I can look at the program and see something I missed that tells me why the dog is at higher odds than the morning line setter thinks it should be.

Maybe it's raining and the dog hasn't done well on an off track. Maybe it's had trouble in a few races and people have decided that it's a fighter, and maybe it is. I have no way of knowing. If I really like a dog and can't see a good reason for not playing it, I'll play it no matter what odds it's at.

But if I'm just lukewarm about a dog and/or considering it for an exotic bet, seeing it at much higher odds than the morning line can change my mind. Maybe the dog will come in, but maybe the crowd is right and it's not a good bet. A dog at much higher odds than its morning line odds just makes a race too iffy for me to risk money on it. Better to keep my money for better races on that program or future programs.

Odds are just one factor in handicapping, of course. Before I even glance at the odds board, I've done my homework and know what I think each dog's chances of winning or hitting the board are. So, when I sit down in front of my computer, watching the odds board on Bet America, I don't have to handicap. I can give the odds board my full attention and look for those "tells" that can make me money - or keep me from losing money.