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SP in Betting Explained

November 12, 2020, 9:05
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SP in Betting Explained

In this article, we look at SP in betting, explain what the term stands for, reveal how it is calculated, and provide insights as to when a punter should use the starting price rather than bookmakers odds. We also shed light on ways of making money by betting at the starting price.

Definition of SP Betting

SP is a broad betting term that is most often used in relation to betting on horse racing. When expanded, the acronym SP stands for ‘Starting Price.’ SP is the final price that’s offered on each racehorse when the betting market is about to go in-play. The definition of SP remains unchanged regardless of whether the sport is tennis, cricket, football, or darts.

How Is SP Calculated in Betting?

The starting price at a horse race is calculated by a panel appointed by horse racing officials at a racetrack. The members of the panel analyse the pricing data from the track. They consider how the prices have moved on the track before calculating the starting price for each horse that is set to run in a race. Once they calculate the starting price, the panel members communicate it to the bookies. The method of calculating the starting price can vary from country to country. In the UK, where the tradition began, the starting price at a racetrack is the average of prices offered by on-course bookmakers. Once they decide on the starting price, racetrack officials inform off-course bookmakers who, in turn, declare an official starting price. For betting events other than horse races, the starting price is calculated as the average of prices offered across the industry. In case a sporting event does not incorporate a starting price, bookmakers offer fixed odds.

SP in Betting Explained

Why Should You Use the SP?

A prospective punter at a racecourse is given a choice of price at which to place his bet. He could opt to place the bet either at the current price offered by the bookmaker or at the starting price calculated by the panel. When the punter chooses to use the starting price, he is unaware as to whether and how the starting price differs from the starting odds offered by the bookie.

Thus, there is an element of chance involved if a punter decides to choose the starting price. Assuming that the punter, who is betting a stake of 100, is offered the bookmaker’s odds of 10.0, he can make a profit of 1000 if he chooses to go with the bookie’s odds. A punter may decide to go with the starting price instead, hoping that the SP would be higher than 10.0. The SP can be higher than, lower than, or equal to the odds offered by the bookie. So, the punter would be hoping that he would get a starting price higher than 10.0. Supposing, at the start of the race the SP is quoted at 15.0, then the punter’s choice would have earned him a potential profit 50% higher than what would have been available to him had he opted for the bookie’s odds.

An experienced punter may guess the possible SP of a horse based on his experience betting at a racetrack. In case a punter does not specify his choice, the starting price is taken as a default price. 

However, there is always a risk that the SP could prove to be lower than the odds offered by a bookmaker, in which case the punter would end up with a lower potential earning on the horse.

Best Odds Guaranteed

Recently, at many racetracks, bookmakers advertise ‘best odds guaranteed.’ What this implies is that the punter will enjoy the best odds, regardless of whether he chooses to go with the bookmaker’s odds or the starting price. If the starting price is lower than the bookmaker’s odds, then the bookmaker’s odds will be applied to the punter’s bet, even if he opted for the starting price. Thus, the punter stands to gain regardless of what the price chosen, assuming, of course, that his chosen horse wins the race.

SP in Betting Explained

Can You Make Money Betting at the SP?

Betting at the SP is a gamble by itself. A punter stands to make a higher potential income if the starting price turns out to be higher than the fixed odds offered by a bookmaker. Conversely, his decision to go with the starting price would reduce his potential income if the bookmaker’s odds are higher than the official starting price. In the UK, punters enjoy an additional choice in the form of Betfair Starting Price, which is traditionally higher than the starting price offered across the rest of the betting industry. This is so because bookmakers in the betting industry factor a profit margin into their starting price. On the other hand, Betfair earns from commissions as opposed to profit margins.

In Conclusion

To summarise, the term ‘starting price’ has traditionally been associated with horse races, where the SP is calculated on the basis of past price movements on a racetrack. The starting price is, thus, the price offered on a racehorse, a price different from the odds offered by a bookmaker at the racetrack. The concept is uniform across all types of betting markets. In the case of other betting markets, such as cricket, football, or tennis, the starting price is calculated on the basis of average prices offered across the gambling industry. The starting price offered could vary from the odds offered by a bookmaker. However, in some instances, such as in the case of best odds guaranteed at racetracks, the punter need not worry as he is certain to enjoy the benefit of higher odds, provided, of course, he makes a winning wager. Where there’s no such guarantee of best odds, the punter’s decision could prove more profitable if the starting price is higher than the odds offered by a bookmaker. Conversely, the punter could stand to lose on potential earnings if the starting price he chose were to prove lower than bookmakers’ odds.

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