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What does SP mean in Betting?

starting price betfair

When you bet on horse racing, the SP is very important SP stands for Starting Price and it is often the one at which you are paid out at if your bet has a return.

The SP is calculated by taking an average of the different odds that are available. There are a number of different ways in which this SP can be conveyed to the customer. For example, it can be given in fractional format, for example, 2/1, 5/2, 11/4, 85/40 etc.  In more recent years, decimal odds have become more popular, for example, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 etc.  

With the arrival of the internet, punters have more opportunity to take a price in the lead up to the race. Now they can even be offered odds during the race. The SP is still important though and it is this price that will be shown when the result of a race is given.  The stake on an SP bet is returned if your selection in a horse race is withdrawn before the off. 

Fluctuating Odds

Imagine it’s the morning and you are sitting down and working out your bets. You will see a list of prices available for each race that is due to take place that day. These are known as morning prices and you can take those prices and put them on your bet slip. You don’t have to do that and can opt to take the SP.

It used to be the case that if you took a price, then that is the one at which you would be paid out at, regardless of the SP. That may well see you making a good decision. You might take a price of 3/1 (4.0) and then see it backed down to an SP of 2/1 (3.0). In this case you will be paid out at the price you took which is higher than the SP. A bet of £20 in this case would win you £60, compared to the £40 if deciding to take the SP.

It’s not always like that though. Sometimes, you can take a price and then see it get larger as the day progresses. If you took odds of 4/1 (5.0) and then your selection drifted in the market out to an SP of 6/1 (7.0), but still won the race, you’d really be upset. A £20 bet on that selection at the price you took would have won you £80 but if betting at the SP, you’d have won £120, so a £40 difference. 

Sometimes, it can be even larger than that. A horse may sweat up before the race and it looks as if its chances of winning aren’t as good as they were. Sometimes, another horse is well-backed and that causes the odds of your selection to increase.

There is an answer to this problem and that’s the Best Odds Guaranteed promotion. Most bookmakers now pay out at the SP if it is larger than the price you have taken. In our example therefore, you would have been paid out at 6/1 (7.0) and received a higher payout.

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