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What is a free bet?

What is a Free Bet?

Free bets are given out by bookmakers to encourage loyalty and entice a punters’ custom. Punters often receive free bets by qualifying for a special offer. Common promotions include; new customers only, specific race offers and money back offers. These special offers are predominantly a benefit of betting online through mobile, desktop and tablet, as apposed to betting shops.

New Customer Offers

Most bookmakers will advertise an attractive sign-up bonus which offers the customer free bets as a reward for opening a new betting account. Free bets are often credited to the punters account after an initial sum has been deposited or a first bet has been placed. The free bet will often match the stake of the first bet with the bookmaker. Although this is not always the case and depends on the terms and conditions of each free bet.

Free bets, used by bookmakers to reward new customers, can be used in a number of ways (often apply to singles only). Click Here to see featured Racing Post Free Bets.


Existing Customer Offers

Once the punter has signed up to a bookmaker, they are no longer eligible to receive new customer offers again. However, most major bookmakers have special offers running which any and all customers can qualify for. These bets require you to place a minimum or maximum bet stake in order to qualify for the free bets, providing the required outcome occurs. For example; ‘money back as a free bet if your horse finishes 2nd by a head or less’ and ‘Money back special if your horse finishes 2nd to the SP favourite’ are two of the most common offers.

Prestigious race meetings such as Royal Ascot and Cheltenham Festival, are a great excuse to grab a  free bet. Bookmakers frequently promote offers during this time, which include free bets certainly worth taking advantage of.




How to place a bet

Punters have never had it so easy in how to place a bet. Gone are the days of betting tax, smoke-filled shops and broken radio commentaries. The mobile-thirsty world in which we live – aided by advances in technology – has brought betting to our fingertips, and we are reaping the benefits. Here’s a quick guide to on how to place your bet:

  1. Select your horse from the racecard, remembering the horse’s name and number
  2. Set your stake, an amount with which you are happy to bet
  3. Decide the type of bet you would like to place (win and each-way most common)
  4. Choose your preferred betting operator, commonly known as a bookmaker
  5. Place a bet!

So, where exactly should you place a bet?

In the betting shop

We’ll start old school. If you’ve never been in a betting shop, you really are missing out. One of the great institutions of the British high street, your local betting shop can often be home to more than a few characters – young, old and older. They can be the source of magical moments, experiences you will never forget, and they deal in the best currency of all – cold, hard cash. Parting with one’s hard-earned makes the event of placing a bet somewhat more real, and the fun only starts when the cashier gratefully receives your stake. Placing a bet is easy. Simply write down your selection(s) on a slip, usually housed on one of the counters in the shop, and hand it across to the cashier when complete. Whether you take the price or settle for SP (starting price at the off) is your choice, but be sure to keep your slip safe – you never know, it might prove lucky.

Racing Post website

The Racing Post website ensures you have everything in one place – slick cards, Spotlight comments and the ability to place bets with the click of a button. With prices available from some of the biggest bookmakers – Coral, William Hill, Ladbrokes, bet365, Paddy Power, BetVictor, Sportingbet, Sky Bet, Boylesports and Racebets – you really do have a stable packed full of talent and the winners are just a second away. Visit here.

Racing Post mobile app

We couldn’t leave this beauty out. The award-winning Racing Post app, an invaluable resource for punters, is available via the App Store, on Android and on tablet. And best of all, it’s free. As well as providing in-depth cards and fast results, the app allows you to bet directly with your bookie of choice, with prices available from Coral, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power and William Hill. Simply log in to your account with your chosen bookmaker and bet a minimum of £1 direct from the card. Job done. Click here to download now.

At the racecourse

On the busiest of days – think day one at Cheltenham – the betting ring is alive, the flow of cash resembling a river at bursting point. At each racecourse, you’ll likely have two options – bet on the Tote or its equivalent (there will be plenty of Tote counters and/or terminals throughout the racecourse) or place a bet with the bookmakers in the ring and on the rails. These brave souls stand next to bright machines displaying ever-changing prices in all weathers imaginable in the hope of taking your cash. Take your time to scan all the odds on offer before taking the plunge and, if betting each-way, read the all-important each-way terms – you don’t want to be taking ⅕ odds on only the first three home in a big-field handicap.

Bookmaker websites

Every bookmaker in the land now has a website and an app, chock-full of prices, markets and offers. It couldn’t be simpler to now place a bet. Before making a bet, ensure you’ve got enough money in your account (quick-deposit facilities resolve this problem in seconds) and head to the race in which you want to invest. The process is straightforward – find your selection, click on the price and head to the betslip (often as a pop-up) before inputting your stake and placing your bet. Many bookmakers now allow you to watch the race live too, so if you have time on your side make the most of this luxury. Be savvy – open accounts with as many bookmakers as possible and make the most of the free bet offers. Having multiple accounts ensures you will have access to the best prices on offer and means you’ll never miss a trick, especially the night before a race when the markets are still taking shape.

Betting exchanges

A medium that can prove the source of cheers, jeers and tears. But how do exchanges differ from ordinary bookmakers? On the betting exchanges, users have the ability to back and lay, meaning bettors can also offer their own odds on a selection to lose, effectively acting as the bookie. Known as peer-to-peer betting, exchanges offer decimal odds ranging from 1.01 (1-1000) to 1,000 (999-1). Users can choose whether they wish to back or lay, set the odds they wish to take or offer and input how much they wish to stake. The bet is then matched in the same market by somebody who has taken the opposite stance. You are able to get involved in-play, watching the markets in real time and investing as the event unfolds. Be quick when you place a bet, though – the odds change in the blink of an eye. The main player in the market is Betfair, with other companies such as Betdaq, Smarkets and Matchbook making up the remainder of the sector. Net winnings are subject to commission charge – 5% is fairly standard – but more details will be available on the relevant FAQ pages of each site.

Betting guide

The art of betting is as old as racing itself. Read our comprehensive betting guide to help you get started

There’s a unique magic to the feeling of backing a winner. You’ve made your choice, placed your bet and been rewarded with hard cash for your good judgement.

And here’s a warm welcome to the Racing Post betting guide, designed to help you make the right choices more often so you can maximise your chances of backing the right horse as often as possible.

Racing is a complex challenge for a punter. When any two Premier League teams do battle it is likely most of us will be able to quickly take a view on what is likely to happen, but working out which one of a collection of horses will cross the line in front is a different puzzle.

From assessing the state of the ground to the implications of a gelding operation, the process of picking the right horse can be confusing and complicated.

That’s where this guide is here to help. In plain English, without jargon, we will separate the red herrings from the key clues and help build your knowledge base so you are as well equipped as possible to win the war with the bookies.

We will also show you how using Racing Post products can keep you close to the action and increase your chances of success.

We hope the following chapters will offer insight and shed light on the many mysteries of trying to crack the code every time you study the form.

With a little extra knowledge, you can responsibly enjoy a happy betting interest. Good luck!

Bruce Millington, Racing Post editor