Ante Post Betting

Empty Horse Racing TrackAnte post betting is very popular and offers bettors the chance to get great early value in terms of the odds. Punters taking ante post odds also get more value from their bets in the sense of getting more long term enjoyment and excitement from their wagers. Here we explain exactly what ante post betting is, why it is so popular with bettors, the potential pitfalls, and we also give some examples of the most popular ante post bets and wagers and relevant betting offers.

What is an Ante Post Bet?

An ante post bet put simply is a bet made on a future event. This event could be the next day or it could be a tournament or competition many years from now. Popular examples are; betting on which horse will win the next Grand National, who will be Wimbledon Tennis Champion and which a team will win the Football World Cup.

Ante Post Betting Explained

Ante post is Latin for “before the post” and, like much gambling terminology, derives from the world of horse racing. An ante post bet originated as a bet that was placed before the horses went to the post, but in modern betting it generally refers to bets placed at least a day before the event. Horse racing remains one of the most popular sports for ante post betting and, with specific relevance to that, an ante post bet is one placed before the overnight declarations have been made. That usually happens at 10am the day before the race, although more commonly ante post bets are placed a long way in advance.

In other sports an ante post bet is often one that is placed before the full line-up for a given event is confirmed, for example at the football World Cup it would be a bet that is placed before the qualification process is complete and/or before the draw for the finals has been made. That said, even after those stages, a bet placed well in advance of the start of the tournament will often be classed by some bookies as an ante post bet and in truth there is no hard and fast definition of what an ante post bet is.

As a general rule any bet placed more than a few days before an event starts, or prior to the overnight declarations in racing – and/or where not all the competitors or line-ups are known – is an ante post bet.

Example of Popular Ante Post Bets

Gold Trophy

As said, ante post bets can be placed on just about any sport or event going, from the Oscars to the NFL and from the Grand National in racing to the US Open in golf. However, certain sports and markets do tend to lend themselves better to ante post betting than others, and here we look at some of the most popular ante post bets from a range of sports.

Horse Racing

In horse racing ante post bets are very common and can range from bets placed more than a year in advance to bets placed on a race that is just a couple of days away. Immediately after any big race (such as the Cheltenham Gold Cup or the 2,000 Guineas) the best horse racing bookies will offer odds for the same race the following year, whilst races in the coming months will have ante post markets that are heavily altered by performances in preceding races, be they trials or simply races known to be good indicators for the contest in question.

Football (Soccer)

When it comes to ante post betting in football, the focus is mainly on major tournaments, leagues and cups, as opposed to individual matches. For example a common ante post bet is to name the winners of all four leagues (the Premier League, the Championship, League One and League Two) in English football, whilst you may have a bet on who will win the FA Cup at the start of the season or before the third round draw has been made. Other common ante post bets, aside from league and cup winners, are top goalscorer bets, for example betting on a player to be the top scorer at the Euros before the tournament starts.


Specials markets, such as betting on political outcomes like the biggest party after a General Election, Oscar winners and reality TV shows such as the X Factor are also quite popular for ante post betting fans. For example you might have a wager on who will win the X Factor before the final 12 acts are confirmed, or a bet on which film will be awarded the Best Picture Oscar that is placed prior to the nominations being announced.

Tennis and Golf

Ante post tennis and golf betting tends to focus on the majors, whilst ante post specials are also not uncommon, for example a bet on how many majors Rory McIlroy will win in a given year, or how many Grand Slams Novak Djokovic will be victorious in.

Of course, ante post bets can be placed on just about any sport; aside from horse racing, the common theme is simply that they tend to be based on outright tournament/events and also commonly on the biggest events going.

Advantages of Ante Post Betting

As alluded to at the beginning of this piece, the two main reasons people place ante post bets centre on value: value in terms of the odds and value in terms of the entertainment and interest the bet provides. The reason ante post bets provide this, in both senses, is because they are placed earlier than “normal” bets.

Bigger Odds

Businessman Skates Ahead In Race

Looking first at the odds, because you are placing a bet well in advance of an event it is clear that you have less information, or, some might argue, that the information you have is less accurate or meaningful. Even this latter description may be inaccurate, because the information may well be accurate NOW, at that given moment, but a lot can change in the days, weeks, or even months before the event takes place.

You are taking a gamble on lots of unknowns and because of this it is sometimes possible to get huge ante post odds that are much bigger than those available closer to the time. For example, if you happen to know that a certain footballer is going to be taking penalties in the season ahead, backing him ante post in the top scorer market will probably provide higher odds than if you wait until that information becomes widely known. Likewise, if you back a horse to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the ante post market before they romp to victory in the King George VI, you might find yourself holding a betting slip that says 50/1 whilst the best odds then available are just 12/1.

More Bang for Your Buck

Value isn’t all about money and for those who bet for fun, part of the appeal of ante post betting is that the bet gives you days, weeks or even months of excitement and anticipation. If you place a bet on a game of football you get, perhaps, two hours of excitement. However, place a bet in August on a team to win the FA Cup and you get months of interest guaranteed. Similarly if you back a horse in November for the Grand National the following spring, you can watch the horse’s development and growth over the National Hunt season. With a bit of luck your horse will go well and you might have a 100/1 slip on a 10/1 shot but even if you don’t, you’ve still had several months of interest in the race.

Risks of Ante Post Betting

Ante post betting isn’t for everyone though and that’s because, like most things in this wonderful world of ours, with the ups, come downs, with the smooth, comes the rough.


Whilst we’re in the rough, let’s consider someone who had an ante post bet on Rory McIlroy to win the 2015 British Open. Let’s say they got on Rory after his stellar 2014 campaign and took a nice high price. That price, and indeed that bet, suddenly became worthless when Rory was forced to withdraw from the 2015 Open due to an ankle injury (sustained whilst having a game of football with mates, just to make our hypothetical punter even more angry!).

Had the bet been placed once the field for the Open was confirmed, a withdrawal through injury would have led to a refund of the stake but with ante post bets your bet invariably stands no matter what the circumstances. God forbid McIlroy was actually killed, the bet would still stand and indeed in racing there have been many examples where horses that have been backed ante post have sadly had to be put down prior to future engagements.

Value or Just Risk?

Scales Weighing Up Price and Value

Some punters may feel the risk of your bet being a non-runner, for example of a star striker getting injured and not making it to the World Cup (where you have backed them to be top scorer), is worth it for the increased odds. However, are you really getting better VALUE odds, or just odds that reflect the risk of betting early when so much can change?

If you have some piece of inside or little-known information then there is a fair chance you are indeed getting real value. For example, if you happen to know that a horse has been schooling brilliantly over the winter, an ante post bet for them in one of the Classics could give a huge return and great value when their odds are slashed following some early season victories.

However, if you are simply betting on an event early on a hunch, then more than likely you are simply getting odds that reflect the overall probability of your selection winning. For example backing a team to win League One in June might offer great odds, but if they sell their best players, lose a promising manager and fail to make any signings in the summer, all of a sudden your “cunning” ante post punt on an outsider doesn’t look such great value after all.

In reality, you could even be getting WORSE value, assuming you don’t know something that the bookies aren’t aware of. This is because the bookmakers are able to offer the most competitive odds, that is to say with the smallest overround (profit margin for them) when they have the most information and the most confidence that their odds are correct. In reality, if a bookie is offering odds on who will win next year’s Wimbledon, they don’t know which players may suddenly improve, who might get themselves injured or who might simply be out of form. Because of this, the reality may well be that the ante post odds actually offer less, not more value, as betting sites offer prices shorter than they really should in order to give them a greater margin of error.

Better in the Bank?

One final consideration when it comes to ante post betting is that you are tying your money up. That may not be an issue if you are betting on a weekend race on a Wednesday but if you’re betting on the Olympics, which could be almost four years away, that’s a long time to tie your money up. Not only is it the bookmaker, not you, who is earning interest, but in addition there may well be an opportunity cost in terms of other good value bets you are forced to miss out on because your funds were tied up elsewhere.

Non-Runner Money Back

One great promotion that ante post fans should be aware of is non-runner no bet (or the slightly inferior non-runner free bet). NRNB, as it is commonly written, is only really offered in horse racing for the biggest races such as the Grand National and the Championship races at the Cheltenham Festival; it gives punters the best of both worlds to some extent.

The best racing sites usually offer NRNB (or NR free bet) around three months prior to a big race. You can place your bets and grab the early value but should your horse fail to make the starting line, for any reason, you’ll get your money back (in the form of a free bet in the case of non-runner free bet).

This is a great insurance policy for those who want to have an early bet on the national or one of the big races at the Cheltenham Festival and if you are going to do that always shop around to try and get a bookie that offers this promotion.

Ante Post Betting Conclusion

In conclusion we have to say that personally we aren’t huge fans of ante post betting – for the reasons outlined above. Quite simply, the risks outweigh the benefits in many cases and there is a very real chance that one of the perceived benefits isn’t actually delivered, quite the opposite in fact when it comes to bets with the bigger odds.

That said, there are two instances when we would very much recommend ante post betting:

  1. Small stakes bets for fun - if you like placing small accas at long odds, for example on who will win the four leagues in England or the four Championship races at Cheltenham, then an early ante post bet is a great way to get months of interest from a small stake.
  2. When you feel you have an edge - if you feel you genuinely know something that the bookies don’t and the ante post odds offer true value that will disappear by the time the market is fully formed, getting on early is most certainly the way to go.