For many people, placing a sports bet involves them selecting a winner of an event. Whether this be a horse race, football match, a rugby game, a tennis match or anything else, the ‘winner’ market is an obvious bet. Yet for anyone who has been active in the sports betting world before, there is also something known as a forecast bet, which may not be quite as familiar to you. In basic terms a forecast bet is a wager on which selections will finish first and second in any possible contest. These selections must be in order, too.
It is most typical to see a forecast bet put to use on horse racing events. Yet you can also see how practical it is for greyhound races, Formula 1, and others. Even football bettors can utilise forecast bets in certain circumstances.
Looking back in betting history, winnings from a forecast weren’t based on fixed-odds. At least when it comes to those two animal-racing sports. Instead, the winnings were based on a Computer Straight Forecast (CSF). Through this guide, we’ll explain what the CSF is and how it operates.
What Exactly is a Straight Forecast Bet?
It is appropriate to look at what a straight forecast bet is first. Some people refer to this as just a forecast bet. When wagering in this way, you predict the first and second-placed finishers in an event. These must be in the correct order in the wager as well. As noted, forecast bets are most common with horse and greyhound racing. Yet there are bookies today providing it on football and other sports. Such wagers allow you to predict which teams will finish first and second on the Premier League table, for example.
Let’s say you had decided to place a forecast bet on the Premier League and Man City and Liverpool finished in first and second, respectively. Any teams other than these two, in the correct order, would have resulted in a loss.
How you place a forecast bet can differ from sportsbook to sportsbook, so too can the method in which the site calculates the odds and winnings. For this reason, you should always check the in-house betting rules beforehand.
In the majority of cases, there is a simple process to placing a forecast bet. A sportsbook offering this will provide a forecast tab from the markets available. There, you can pick the horses you think will finish in first and second position. Add that forecast to your bet slip, choose the stake you want to place on it and then complete the process. That’s the general step-by-step routine to undertake for forecast bets. Some sites will request that you select the horses first and then choose the forecast option on the bet slip.
What Are Computer Straight Forecast Bets?
CSF is something that comes into use as an alternative to saying ‘forecast’ bet. This remains as one of the most popular bet types when it comes to racing. Especially in relation to horse and greyhound racing events. Forecast and tricast bets stand out for many people. The latter requires you to pick the first, second and third finishers. We’re only looking at forecast wagers here, though.
The meaning relates to the payout from a forecast bet. As an alternative, it can also refer to the method utilised to calculate the payout. For example, let’s say you heard a punter shout out:
“An outsider picked up the win and the CSF was £49.25”.
From that you can determine that a correct straight forecast would return £49.25 for every £1 stake on it. So, if you had wagered £10 on that as a forecast bet, you could determine a payout like this:
£10 x £49.25 = £492.50
How is the CSF Actually Calculated?
The CSF isn’t a new creation. In fact, some sources date it back to the late 1970s. Verification is still required on this, but the CSF has been around for several decades. In the same vein, so has the means for calculating the CSF and its payout.
There is quite the complex algorithm in place to calculate this. This takes various important factors into consideration. The odds of all the race’s runners is one of the most important pieces of information it uses. At the same time, the prices of the horses that came first and second come into effect. To add to this, the algorithm also needs information like:
- The number of runners involved
- The type of race taking place
- Any possible draw bias
- Performance of the favourite in the race and its odds
- The number of horses with odds of 20/1 or above
With so much information necessary to the algorithm, it seems impossible to calculate. Of course, the complexity of the mathematics in place behind this is one reason for such. It’s not only this, though. It is also poignant to note that nobody knows who or what is behind the CSF calculation.
Many online sources point to the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB), which is now defunct and part of the Betting & Gaming Council (BGC). The CSF algorithm changes on a frequent basis, according to some. Meanwhile, some people claim to have a copy of the algorithm that goes way back to 1997. They say it has not altered since that time.
Communication with the ABB has occurred about the CSF. Yet the primary response seems to have been questioning what the CSF actually is. Instead, people have suggested that the (BGC) is responsible. Yet the CSF is not mentioned at all on the BGC website. For the moment, who or what is behind the calculation remains a mystery.
What Do We Know About the CSF?
Years of trying to figure out who calculates the CSF has led to a dead end, it seems. Despite this being the case, we do know certain thing about it. The various factors noted earlier are features of the CSF, yes. It is quite simple to make an estimation of what the CSF will be on a race, though. This is all assuming that we are in-the-know on the starting prices (SP). It’s easy to calculate.
The simple calculation only requires you to do one thing. Take a look at the price of the winner and reduce it by a single point. If a horse has 10/1 odds, then you reduce that to 9/1. Then, proceed with multiplying that amount by the odds of the horse that came in second place.
Let’s use an example for this. Cheltenham Festival took place in March of 2022. Day four of the festival saw the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle occur. Banbridge came in first place, followed by Cobblers Dream. Both horses had odds of 12/1 in this particular situation. The calculation would see us reduce Banbridge’s odds to 11/1 and then multiply that by 12/1. The CSF is usually declared right after a race concludes and there is confirmation of the result. Again, we can use an example for this with a recent horse racing event.
On Saturday, December 10 of 2022, a meeting took place at Wolverhampton. Nine runners participated in the Club 5 Free Bet Handicap (Class 6). City Escape came in first position, ridden by Billy Loughnane. It was Cicely that picked up second position with jockey L Morris. Using the Sky Sports website, you can see that at the bottom of the results is the CSF. The Straight Forecast stands out as £10.09 on this particular race. Thus, anyone who backed City Escape and Cicely to come in first and second would win. Their payout would be £10.09 for every £1 staked on the forecast. If someone had wagered £10, then they would receive a payout of £10.09 x £10 = £100.90.
Many people would consider the CSF to have a lot more to do with computers. That is quite true with regard to the calculations taking place. Yet ‘CSF’ is a phrase that can mean a straight forecast bet with the winnings calculated using an algorithm. This is something that occurs rather than via fixed odds or pool betting. The Tote Exacta bet is something that exists for pool bettors which is like CSF wagering. At the same time, it may also refer to the method used to calculate the dividend.
There is a precise formula for calculating the CSF winnings. Yet it is very complex, taking into account various specific factors. Thus, a computer determines the CSF, rather than a person. This is where it gets the name CSF from.
The straight forecast bet is one of the more popular wagers to place. Yet there are a couple of other options that are like it. They’re not identical but work in the same sort of way. The first of these is the reverse forecast bet. This one is a bit freer when determining the horses. You don’t have to predict which horses will finish in first and second. You can choose any horse to finish in the top two, regardless of the order they come in. It costs double the amount of a standard forecast bet in most instances. That’s because you are, in effect, placing two straight forecast wagers.
The other alternative is the combination forecast. When engaging in this type of bet, you can select between three and six participants from a race. Then, you state that any combination of these runners will finish in the top two. It may be the case that you want to use a combination forecast on three choices. Depending upon the number of selections, the number of bets will increase between 6 and 30.
Those forecast betting options are better for more experienced bettors to utilise. After all, they do feature more selections and more bets. Starting out with a standard CSF is a better route to take if you’re a beginner to these. Then, when you’re comfortable betting in this way, you can move on, if you so wish.