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Odds On: Answering the $2.10 Question

September 28, 2011

TORONTO, September 28 – Last Wednesday’s King Corrie Stakes presented punters with a hot favourite, the Terry Jordan trained sprinter Hollywood Hit.

Listed as the even-money morning line favourite, the money flowed in on Hollywood Hit and his price decreased substantially to 1-5, and, at one point, bottomed out at 1-9 on the tote board.

Of course, with breakage – – the downward rounding of the odds on the tote board to the nearest nickel or dime – – a horse cannot actually pay out at 1-9 to win. Realistically, Hollywood Hit would more accurately have been listed at a price of 1-10 or 1-20.

So, while it may seem like a $2.10 question, Greg Martin, Woodbine Entertainment Group’s Director of Wagering Operations, has taken the time to answer a few questions regarding current wagering practice and what might be in store in the near future.

1. Why does Woodbine’s digital tote board stop at 1-9?

GM: “The tote board odds are historical in nature and they consist of two digits only with the ability to put a dash in it. This goes back to wooden tote boards, before we have the video boards we have now. We put a program ad in all programs that explains what the odds mean, and say that 1-9 could mean a payout of $2.10 – which is the minimum payout by law. 1-9 could result in a payout of between $2.10 and $2.30, so 1-9 is in the middle of that.”

2. Is the inability to display 1-10 or 1-20 a technical issue? Can it be changed and, if not, why not?

GM: “It is not a technical issue. We have been participating in discussions within the industry to change the standard to decimal odds, and we believe it may happen in the future. We are currently planning to offer both old-style odds and decimal odds on the HorsePlayer Interactive (HPI) website at, so that customers can get used to seeing it in a decimal format.”

3. What are the current options for a player trying to assess the exact wagering value of a horse?

GM: “In pari-mutuel wagering, the odds are not final until the race goes off. Win prices of $2.10 are fairly obvious in that if about 70 per cent of the total pool or more is bet on one horse, it will result in a $2.10 payout. As noted, we plan to put both numbers on HPI soon.”

Currently, a typical payout chart in the racing program would read as follows:

Odds Pays Odds Pays
1-9 $2.10 2-1 $6.00
1-5 $2.40 5-2 $7.00
2-5 $2.80 3-1 $8.00
1-2 $3.00 7-2 $9.00
3-5 $3.20 4-1 $10.00
4-5 $3.60 9-2 $11.00
1-1 $4.00 5-1 $12.00
6-5 $4.40 6-1 $14.00
7-5 $4.80 7-1 $16.00
3-2 $5.00 8-1 $18.00
8-5 $5.20 9-1 $20.00
9-5 $5.60 10-1 $22.00

Should the industry gravitate to a decimal display system, bettors will be provided with a clearer picture of the price of the horse they are wagering on.

Currently, when the tote board displays odds of 6-1, the actual price of the horse could be anywhere from 6.1 to 6.95, which would see a difference in return of $14.00 up to $15.90.

Bettors familiar with the racing program or Daily Racing Form, will recognize that the Equivalent Odds rounded down to the nearest .05 or .10, are displayed in the past performance race lines to the right of the jockey’s name. As it turns out, those bettors that placed a $2 win bet on Hollywood Hit last Wednesday night received a final wagering value of 0.30, only to see Artic Fern (6.95) upset the race with an emphatic stretch run, paying $15.90 to win.

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