What Is The Starting Price In Betting? What Does SP Mean?

The starting price (SP) is a term commonly used in horse racing and greyhound racing, referring to the odds offered on a particular runner at the start of the race.

When a bettor opts for the SP, they agree beforehand to accept whatever price the runner goes off at.

Here’s everything you need to know about the starting price.


What Is The Starting Price (SP)?

The starting price (SP) or “start price” represents the final odds for participants in a race, established just before the race kicks off. The SP becomes the odds for bettors who opted to place bets at that rate, leading to payouts being calculated accordingly.

It’s important to note that betting odds often fluctuate on the build up to a race, influenced by various factors such as the volume and size of bets, as well as any late-breaking information affecting the perceived chances of runners. Consequently, SPs may differ among various bookmakers and betting exchanges.

The Betfair Starting Price (BSP) is generally considered to be an accurate reflection of the true market value of a selection at the start of a race. This is because the BSP is determined by the collective wisdom of the Betfair exchange users, who are actively backing and laying bets based on their own assessments of a runner’s chances.


How Is The Starting Price (SP) Set?

The method by which SPs are set for each runner varies in different countries.

Traditionally in the UK SP’s have been determined by a panel of officials at the racecourse, based on the average odds quoted by on-course fixed-odds bookmakers. When there are no on-course bookmakers at the track an official body (The Starting Price Regulatory Commission) will calculate the SP using a sample list of online bookmakers.

Calculating this SP using this traditional method does not directly account for volumes of bets placed on the selection off-course — i.e. in betting shops and online — and has sparked a lot of debate across the industry as to whether the prices are really representative for each horse’s chance of winning.

With with race attendance numbers dwindling, and online betting accounting for the majority of stakes place on racing, the Starting Price now closely follows the odds on the betting exchange. The Starting Prices on the Betfair exchange — known as the BSP — are determined by the market, which is made up of bettors wanting to either to Back or Lay an outcome. Due to the fact there is no margin for profit built into the prices, you are more likely to find a better, and more accurate, representation of the Starting Price on the exchange than at the bookies.


Significance Of The Starting Price

The Starting Price signifies a pivotal moment just before the race commences: it’s where the market solidifies, and the highest volume of bets is matched on the betting exchanges before going in-play. This moment holds significance because the odds at this moment encapsulate the collective sentiments of both retail and professional bettors leading up to the race.

As the race approaches, informed and seasoned bettors tend to enter the betting exchanges in the final 30 minutes, injecting their insights and refining the odds. Consequently, the market experiences heightened activity, becoming more competitive and tightly knit. This tightening of spreads sees Back and Lay odds aligning closely with each other, reflecting a market that is increasingly accurate in assessing probabilities for each runner’s chances of winning.

Given this, finding value from the SP is challenging, as the public consensus largely eliminates any discrepancies in the odds. In general, the prevailing sentiment converges towards a consensus, leaving little room for exploiting potential “value” prices that might have existed earlier. This is precisely why many professional bettors will avoid taking the Starting Price within their strategies.


Beating The Starting Price

Throughout the day leading up to a race, the odds undergo significant fluctuations. These changes occur both early and late on, before ultimately stabilising at values that are considered to be “fair”. Therefore, comparing our price to the SP provides insight into the quality of the value in our bet.

In general:

  • If the Starting Price is higher than our price, it indicates a failure to find a value bet (though Best Odds Guaranteed can mitigate this setback).
  • If the Starting Price is lower than our price, it signifies a value bet—a phenomenon known as “Beating the SP” or “Beating the Closing Line“.

Thus, the SP serves as a useful tool for evaluating the efficacy of our selection criteria, betting systems, or tipsters in identifying value. Understanding and leveraging these insights can greatly impact sports betting profitability.


Best Odds Guaranteed

Best Odds Guaranteed (BOG) is as a popular promotion offers by many bookmakers, enhancing the profitability of bets placed at odds lower than the SP.

Here’s how it works:

If you secure a price on a horse and the Starting Price (SP) surpasses it, the BOG bookmaker will honour the larger odds. For instance:

  • If you take a price of 4/1 and the selection wins with an SP of 5/1, you’ll be paid out at 5/1
  • If you take a price of 4/1 and the selection wins with an SP of 3/1, you’ll be paid out at 4/1

BOG ensures that bettors can potentially save more money than they would otherwise. Notably, this perk is not offered by betting exchanges, contributing to the loyalty of many racing bettors to bookmakers despite their lower odds.

For further insights into the advantages of bookmakers over exchanges, delve into: Why Use Bookmakers Instead of The Exchange?

Toby @ Punter2Pro
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