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What is ante-post betting on sports and how does it work?

We explain ante-post betting with a breakdown of advantages and disadvantages when placing this type of bet
What is ante-post betting on sports and how does it work?
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In betting terminology, ‘ante-post’ means placing bets before the day of the event, whether it be a horse or greyhound race or before the start of a series of events such as football and American football leagues along with tennis, cricket, golf, rugby and snooker competitions to name a few. 

Most UK bookmakers offer a wide range of ante-post markets, also called futures markets, and betting is available in advance on almost every major sporting event worldwide. 

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Advantages and disadvantages of ante-post betting

There are two forms of ante-post betting. The first is when the runners or competitors of a specific event have yet to be finalised. 

Typical examples are ante-post markets on major horse race meetings, such as Cheltenham Festival odds or the Grand National and Greyhound Derby. 

Odds on such events are available many months beforehand and the advantage of these markets is that the odds available are often far bigger than the prices on the day.

The disadvantage is that all stakes are lost if your horse or greyhound does not end up participating in the race, or if your team fails to make the final of a competition for example. 

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Non-runner no-bet

Increasingly, horse racing betting sites are offering non-runner no-bet (NRNB) ante-post options, usually available nearer to the events taking place when there is a clearer picture of which participants are likely to start. 

The odds are more cramped than in a conventional ante-post book, but stakes are returned in the event of a non-runner. When it comes to racing, this protects bettors against withdrawals through injury or illness and against connections making alternative plans for their horses or greyhounds.

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Football ante-post betting

The other form of ante-post betting is where bookmakers compile odds for future events where the participants are already known.

English Football, which attracts enormous ante-post interest, is a prime example. Football betting sites will advertise prices for all major football leagues within days of the previous season's completion. 

Unlike in horse racing and greyhound racing, the runners are already known.

The 2015/16 Premier League champions Leicester City were 5,000/1 in some ante-post lists and a handful of small-stakes punters, mainly ambitious Leicester fans, made small fortunes by betting on them before a ball had been kicked.

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Ante-post accas and cash outs

A very popular ante-post bet in football is picking teams to win the Premier League, Championship, League 1 and League 2 and mixing them in singles, doubles, trebles and accumulator bets. 

Most new betting sites offer a cash-out option and if your teams are all doing well halfway through the season, for example, there may be the opportunity to cash out with a profit.

The knockout competitions in football are also a popular choice for ante-post punters, including the FA Cup, EFL Cup and Champions League.

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It is a similar scenario in all sports with a knockout format, including greyhound racing, and it is not unusual for bettors to make multiple choices in the hope that their selections progress to the latter stages of an event. 

Another popular cash-out option offered by most bookmakers is a partial cash-out. If their ante-post selections are doing well and the odds have significantly shrunk, many punters take advantage of this facility to collect a percentage of the potential winnings while retaining a portion of their stake on the bet.

Ante-post betting can be rewarding for punters who study their chosen subject and small stakes can often bring big rewards if the bets are successful. As in all betting, research, patience and a slice of luck are the keys to improving chances of success.


Paul has been professionally involved with sports betting since joining the Racing Post in 1986. Although greyhound racing was his first passion, he has also written multiple articles on a wide range of sports from a betting perspective.

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