Today I am going to compare the same type of bet – the Computer Straight Forecast and the Tote Exacta. Both bets select two runners in a race and bet that one horse will beat the other. The difference is that one is a “pool” bet (the exacta), while the other is a computer generated one (Computer Straight forecast).

Exacta bets are placed with the Tote and as stated above are “pool” bets. Essentially this means all the stake money from all the exacta bets go into a pool and hence the return will depends on (i) your stake and (ii) the size of the pool. The Tote also takes a percentage out of the “pool” which means that the returns become slightly smaller as result. The biggest problem with the Exacta bets is that the “pool” can be rather small, and hence a hefty size bet will reduce any winning returns considerably.

Bookmakers also offer a Computer Straight Forecast (often known as simply the CSF) and it works in exactly the same way as an Exacta in terms of you are trying to predict the winner and the second, but the return is not dependent on the size of the pool. A rather complicated computer program takes into account the number of runners and the prices and from its calculations a CSF return is produced.

On a personal level, I have used forecast and exacta bets for many years now most notably for draw biased bets. I have used the CSF when the draw bias is very well known such as Beverley or Chester, because it tends to pay slightly better, while when the bias is not as well known I have used the exacta. For me, neither bet is perfect with both having advantages and disadvantages. The advantage of the CSF is that you can have fairly good idea of the return due to the fact that on most occasions the payout roughly equals the following formula: add 1 point to the price of the runner up and multiply that by the price of the winner. For example, if a horse won at 4/1 with the second horse priced 6/1, you add 1 point to the 6 to make 7 and multiply by 4 to give around 28/1. The disadvantage of the CSF is that is basically gives poor returns if you calculate the “true” odds of the actual combination. The exacta on the other hand is virtually impossible to predict – it really does depend on the amount staked on each 1st / 2nd combination compared with total amount of money in the pool. However, it can pay handsomely so it is always a bet to consider to small stakes.

In order to compare the payouts of two bets I have taken a sample of over 2500 flat races over a recent 4 month period. All race types were included and the average payouts per race were as follows:

 Bet type Average payout per £1 stake Exacta £81.32 Computer Straight Forecast £61.36

Hence, on average the exacta has outperformed the CSF by around £20 per bet.

So this initial comparison suggests the exacta wins hands down. Let us see if this is still the case as we dig further. My next comparison was to look at all races to see how many times the exacta paid more than the CSF and vice versa. The results were:

 Bet Type Paid More % (paid more) Exacta 1854 73.5% Computer Straight Forecast 668 26.5%

Once again the exacta clearly outperforms the CSF with bigger payouts on a scale close to 3 races to 1. The exacta continues its domination!

Of course the problem with the exacta is that it is a pool bet and hence it is difficult to have decent sized bets because your money will affect the eventual payout. Having said that if you are betting a few quid at a time I would almost always use the exacta.

Filed under: Daily Horse Racing Blog

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