It seems like every weekend there is a new promo with a fancy name being advertised on TV and it can be difficult to digest and understand where the true value lies.
Racing punters receive the most promotions because the bookies want punters betting on racing. The bookies know that it is much harder to pick the winner of a race, where there are typically at least eight runners, than it is to pick the winner of a sports contest between two teams.
We've assessed the bookie market and summarised the main racing promotions on offer, helping you to weigh up which ones to go for to get your money's worth and also what fine print to be wary of.
Refund If Your Horse Doesn't Win
One of punters' favourite bookie promotions is a refund if your horse runs second or third.
The reason why this type of promo is so popular is that it allows you to put a decent-sized bet on the nose, with a safety net if your runner just misses but fills a placing.
With tales of rotten luck occurring all too often in racing, such as just missing out in the bob in a photo finish or a jockey being held up before flying home for third, this promo softens the blow.
Watch out for max bet amounts on these promotions however, as often the bookies will cap the amount you will be able to outlay in order take advantage of the promo. You could have $200 on a runner, only to discover that your bookie will only refund the first $100.
If this happens to you, it is on you, because the bookies almost trip over themselves trying to disclose the terms and conditions of their bet refund promotions.
Also be sure to check how the refund is paid. Select bookies will refund your bet stake in cash, however others will credit your account with bets which will be subject to conditions such as turnover requirements and minimum odds.
You might also face a time limit on how long your bonus bet remains valid before it expires.
The most common in the market is the promise of Best Betting Odds.
Most online bookies offer a range of odds on each racing market outside of the standard tote and fixed odds price. These include Best of the Best (the highest odds paid from the three main Australian totes) and Top Fluctuation (highest fluctuation price from when the market opened).
Bookmakers also offer a promotion that enables punters to enhance their fixed odds for a select number of occasions per day. This provides a boost to punters' odds either on individual markets, with some bookies also allowing the enhancement promotion to be used on multis.
These features are more suited to punters who are happy to sacrifice the safety net of a refund for a placing, in order to gain superior odds if their horse salutes. The lure of having added cash in your back pocket is hard to resist.
Make sure you check which days of the week odds promotions are available. For example, some online bookmakers will only offer Best of the Best on Saturday race meets, and Mid Tote on midweek race meets. The bet slip of your online bookie will reveal which races are eligible for enhanced odds.
Furthermore, Aussie bookmakers offer different odds for exotic bets such as quadrellas.
It is worth noting also that most bookies don't make their odds enhancement promotions available on all markets and you can rarely use bonus bets on them.
Another type of racing promotion offered by some bookies concerns multis.
Typically, in these promos, when a Saturday racing multi of up to four legs is placed and one leg fails, the punter is compensated.
Many of us have experienced the excitement of having three of your four-legged multi having already saluted, only to be kicked in the guts when your "sure thing" in the final leg runs like a busted.
Given the added risk with multis, the security of a refund if one leg goes down is comforting and makes the bitter pill easier to swallow.
Just like all refund promotions, best to check whether the refund is made in cash or bonus bets.
A number bookies offer punters the option of a "Cash Out" when a bet is live.
This is most common on multis, where if you have managed to pull off one or more legs and the nerves have started to kick in about your chances of steering the remaining leg(s) home, the bookie will offer you a price to cash out early.
Beware, however, as the price offered by the bookie at this time is often at a discount meaning you will receive reduced value on the successful winning combination.
Opting to cash out can be considered smart and risk adverse to some, but to others it can be considered cowardly and gutless, especially after watching your final leg romp home to victory.
Cash Out promotions are also offered by Australian bookmakers on individual races after the jump.
In this promotion, the bookie will give you the option to cancel your racing bet for a limited time after the race starts. This is particularly handy if you've been given a free horse racing tip, but your runner misses the start and you want to bail out.
Cash Outs are often only provided on a limited basis per day, so make sure you use them wisely.
Favourite vs The Field
A final promo that appeals to punters is a market whereby the favourite is pitted against the rest of the field.
This market lets you back either the favourite, or any other horse in the race under a single combined price.
With only two alternatives, this market simplifies the betting options and creates plenty of interest for those who love nothing more than laying the favourite.
With plenty of short-priced favourites getting done each Saturday, this type of promo can prove very profitable for punters.