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3 years ago - 10 minute read

A step-by-step guide to back & lay Dutching

Did you know?

The betting term ‘Dutching’ derives from Jewish-American mobster Arthur Flegenheimer – also known as Dutch Schultz – who ran various rackets at US racetracks in the 1920s and 1930s.

How many times have you studied a race such as a large, competitive handicap and been torn between backing two, three or four runners? It’s not rare for several runners to each have a decent shout, particularly in high quality races, so it’s a quandary bettors commonly find themselves in.

But there is no rule or betting commandment that says you must pinpoint and back one horse and one horse only. By backing two or more runners instead, you spread the risk and increase your chances of landing the winner.

“I’ve never been squeamish about betting more than one horse in a race,” Neil Channing, pro gambler and Matchbook betting podcast regular, says. “It’s a really good option when, for example, you don’t fancy the favourite and can rule out a few no hopers but can’t rule out two, three or four other runners.”

The solution is to spread your bets. This technique is known in betting circles as ‘Dutching’ or to ‘Dutch’ and can deliver great returns at far lower risks. And it really comes to life on a betting exchange, as we will explain later in the article.

What is Dutching?

With Dutching, stakes are adjusted so that you win the same amount if either of your chosen horses cross the line in front. For example, let’s say after poring over the form you fancy three horses to be in contention come the business end of a 18-runner sprint handicap at Ascot. Let’s call them Horse A, Horse B and Horse C.

Churchill (pictured) along with his stable mate Cliffs of Moher was ‘Dutched’ by many shrewd punters for the Epsom Derby but it was another Aidan O’Brien trained winner -Wings of Eagles that took the spoils.

The current back odds for all three are 4.0, 7.0 and 17.0. If you wanted to invest a total of £50 on the race then you would need to adjust the stakes so all three bets combined add up to as near to £50 in total as possible. The shorter the odds, the bigger the stakes – and vice versa.

It’s a fairly complicated process, although the maths are pretty simple, but luckily there are lots of free dutching calculators that will do the hard work for you. You can find one here, here or here. Just put in your selections, the odds, and it will tell you how much to bet. And the results look like this.

The combined odds for all three horses are 2.21 (calculated as 1/(4.0+7.0+17.0), which means if any of your selections wins then you’ll collect £110.70 including your £50 stake, leaving you with a clear profit of £60.70 (minus a small commission on Matchbook). Not bad eh?

Working it out for yourself

Trading software Geeks Toy , which is fully compatible with Matchbook, also boasts a Dutching tool as one its handy features. But if you want to work it out for yourself then follow this system.

First we need to work out each horse’s implied probability of winning, which is calculated like this:

1 / 4.0 x 100 = 25.0%
1 / 7.0 x 100 = 14.28%
1 / 17.0 x 100 = 5.88%

Then we need to work out the required stakes using this formula:

Probability of Runner 1 / (Sum of probability of all 3 Runners) X Stake = Amount to bet.

For the three runners this would result in the calculations below:

(25.0 / (25 + 14.28 + 5.88)) x £50 = £27.61

(14.28 / (25 + 14.28 + 5.88)) x £50 = £15.81

(5.88 / (25 + 14.28 + 5.88)) x £50 = £6.51

The combined odds for all three horses are 2.21, which is worked out by calculating 1/(Horse A odds + Horse B odds + Horse C odds).

One other aspect to consider is changing the amounts based on your individual analysis of each horse in the race, as Channing explains. “Every betting decision you make has to be judged on its own individual merits and dutching doesn’t change that,” he says.

“Say you think the favourite is too short and by implication that makes the others bigger than they should be, but it’s probably not that simple. Horse B might be 7.0 when it should be 4.0 while Horse A might be about the right price at 4.0 and Horse C might be 17.0 when it should be 12.0. In that situation I’d stake proportionally more on the horses that are higher than their true price.”

A wide open Betting race such as the Ebor Handicap can be an ideal situation to use a Dutching Strategy.

Making multiple lays

Dutching can be a powerful tool for maximising profits and reducing day-to-day risk. In theory you should have more regular wins, albeit for smaller amounts. But where dutching arguably really comes into its own is on an exchange where you can lay multiple selections.

When dutching you can just as easily lay multiple horses in order to minimise your risk. This is sometimes referred to as ‘Reverse Dutching’ and is perfect for a race when you’re not sure what will win, but you’re reasonably sure what won’t.

For example, you might come to the conclusion that the two horses at the head of the market are weak favourites and deserve to be opposed. Horse A is available to lay at 3.0 while Horse B can be taken on at 4.0.

You find a handy online lay dutching calculator like this one and put in the figures and find out you should lay horse A for a liability of £28.57 and horse B for a liability of £21.42. Both amounts add up to approximately £50.

Regardless which runner wins, your liability of £50 will be the same. Yet if both underperform and neither is victorious, you’ll collect £50. The combined odds for this Dutching lay at 4.0 and 5.0 are 1.71.

Working reverse dutching out for yourself

Again, you’ll find lay Dutching calculators online or in the App Store to do all the laborious number crunching but if you want to work it out for yourself then once again first we need to work out their implied probabilities. This is calculated as such:

Horse A: 1/3 x 100 = 33.33
Horse B: 1/4 x 100 = 25.0

If the maximum you are prepared to pay out on this particular race is £50. This means you need to divide the implied probability by total selections’ implied probability and multiply it by the maximum payout.

(33.33 / (33.33 + 25.0)) x 50 = 28.57

(25.0 / (33.33 + 25.0)) x 50 = 21.42

If you chose to lay three runners at odds of 6.0, 7.0 and 9.0 for a maximum of £50 then you would need to lay each selection accordingly:

Saving Grace

Another variation on Dutching is backing two horses and using one of these bets as a ‘saver’. Say your main fancy was 4.0 and you back it for £20. However, you could also back another horse, perhaps at odds of 5.0, for £5.

That way if your main bet wins you’ll scoop £80 minus the £5 and a small commission. But if the £5 bet obliges then your returns will be £25 including your stake, which means you’ve covered the outlay on your main bet. You’re back where you started.

Whatever system you use it’s important to remember that you don’t have to limit yourself to one horse. You’ve probably backed two or three selections in ultra-competitive handicaps like the Grand National without dutching stakes. But there is no reason to limit dutching to large field races.

By spreading risk across multiple horses you also boost your chances of coming out ahead with a tidy profit. Give Dutching a try yourself with Matchbook’s daily horse racing markets.