Yes, you can lose money on a winning bet – but there’s nothing underhand about this fact.
There are several scenarios where you will get a return off a bet that won’t be as much as the stake you placed, meaning you have lost on a winning bet.
Multiple bets are a prime example of where you can lose money on a winning bet, while it’s also possible to lose money on an each-way bet. Dead-heat rules and Rule-4 deductions can also make a winning bet into a loser.
Can You Lose Money On Winning Multiple Bets?
Multiple bets are bets such as Yankees, lucky 15s, and lucky 31s, and it’s often the case that even winning ones will lose you money sometimes.
For example, you might place a £1 win Yankee on four horses at odds of 6/4, 2/1, 3/1, and 4/1. This bet will cost you £11 and the 11 bets of a Yankee are six doubles, four trebles, and one 4-timer. Because there are no single bets in a Yankee, you would not win anything if you just have one winner.
You could even have two winners at 6/4 and 2/1, but this would only give you a £1 double at 6.50. That means you would only get £7.50 back, a loss of £3.50 on the £11 stake you originally placed.
A Lucky 15 works in a similar way as a Yankee, but this bet also has four singles as well as the six doubles, four trebles, and one four-timer.
This means a £1 lucky 15 would cost you £15. If you had the same four horses in a lucky 15, you would then have two £1 singles at 6/4 and 2/1 and a double. Your return would then be £2.50 + £3.00 + £7.50 = £13. That means you would still lose £2, confirming our ‘yes’ answer to your question, ‘can I lose money on a winning bet’.
Can You Lose Money On An Each-Way Bet?
When you place an each-way bet, you are really placing two bets. The first is a win bet and the second is a place bet. If your selection wins, you’ll win both bets. But if your selection only places, you’ll only win your place bet.
All each-way bets will be settled either at standard each-way betting terms or according to the terms that an individual bookie was offering at the time.
Many races offer each-way terms of 1/5 odds 1-2-3, so you’d need to back a selection with odds of at least 5/1 to guarantee you don’t lose money if your horse only places. That means if you’ve backed a horse each-way at less than 5/1 in this scenario, you will lose money on a winning bet.
For example, if you have a £1 each-way at 4/1 and it places, you’ll only get one-fifth of £1 at 4/1. That means you’ll only get £1.80 back when you originally staked £2, a loss of 20p.
Can You Lose Money On A Winner That Dead Heats?
If two horses win a horse race by dead heating, you’ll get back half of the money you were expecting if your selection had been an outright winner. For example, if you had £10 on a horse at even-money you would be expecting to get £20 back. But if it dead-heated you would only get £10 back – breaking even.
That means if you had a bet at odds-on and it was a dead heat, you would lose money on a winning bet. For example, if you had £10 at odds of 1.50, you get back £15 if it won. But if it dead-heated, you would only get back half of that, so £7.50. That means you would lose £2.50 on that winning bet. Of course, dead heats can occur with more than two selections, so your winnings might get divided even further.
Can You Lose Money On A Winning Bet When It’s Affected by Rule 4?
Rule 4 in horse racing is annoying when it affects your winnings, but it is a must to protect bookies from the effect of non-runners. You can’t expect the bookies to settle bets at the odds you took when, for example, the even-money favourite is withdrawn. In that scenario, rule 4 would mean a deduction of 50p in the pound – meaning you would only get back half of the money you were expecting.
Rule 4 deductions can also be much more or much less than that, depending on the odds of the non-runner or the combined odds if there is more than one non-runner. Selections that are withdrawn when at odds of between 10/1 and 14/1 will only result in a 5p in the pound deduction, but horses at odds on can cause up to a 75p in the pound deduction.
If you then combine a rule 4 with a dead heat, it’s easy to see that yes you can lose money on a winning bet.
We hope that’s answered your question, can you lose money on a winning bet. Feel free to check out more explainer articles on the Betting Gods blog. If you’re just looking for horse racing tips, then check out our top horse racing tipsters.