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Dan Fitch
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A forecast bet is one where you select two or more selections to finish within the first two places of an event. Depending on the type of forecast, you may have to select them in the correct order, or any order. We’re going to explain what is a forecast bet, in all its different varieties.

How Does a Forecast Bet Work?

what is a forecast bet

A forecast is a type of bet where you are not just predicting the winner of an event, but also the selection that will finish second. There are all sorts of different types of forecasts.

These range from a simple choice of picking out two selections that must finish in the correct order within the front two, to ones where the finishing order is irrelevant, or forecasts with more than two selections. That’s the basic answer to what is a forecast bet, so now it’s a question of how they work.

Different Types of Forecast Bets Explained

In this section we’re going to take a look at some of the different types of forecast in sports betting. Here are the most common kinds of forecast bets that you will see at all major sports betting sites.

What is a Straight Forecast Bet?

The most common forecast is known as a ‘straight forecast’. It’s a forecast in its simplest form. You pick out two selections in a specific order. You are backing one to win and the other to finish second.

This bet needs your selections to achieve the exact finishing positions that you have predicted, to be a winner. This form of betting is obviously more difficult to get right than if you are just backing a selection to win, so you are therefore rewarded with bigger odds.

What is a Reverse Forecast Bet?

Your chances of success are increased with a reverse forecast. With this bet, the order of your forecast selection is irrelevant. Your two selections must of course both finish within the top two places for your bet to be a winner, but they can do so in either order.

A reverse forecast is two bets. You are backing both Selection A to win, with Selection B in second, along with Selection B to win, with Selection A in second place. This means that instead of a single stake, the stake is doubled. So a £5 reverse forecast, would cost you £10. It’s therefore a more expensive bet than a straight forecast, but your chances of winning are much improved.

What is a Dual Forecast Bet?

Dual forecast betting is exactly the same as a reverse forecast. It’s simply a different term for the same thing.

It’s more of an American term. You are likely to see a dual forecast market at US sportsbooks, or in relation to American sports.

What is a Combination Forecast Bet?

A combination forecast enables you to pick more than just two selections. Popular when betting on a horse race, you can back between three to six different selections, depending on the amount of runners. However many selections you choose, a combination forecast will cover every permutation, in any order.

As ever, you are looking to find the selections that will finish first and second. Increasing the amount of selections naturally makes it much more likely that you’ll get a winner than when trying to choose an exact forecast. The downside is that this can be an expensive type of bet, so you have to be careful when balancing your unit stake, with the total amount of bets. Here are the number of bets you get with a combination forecast, depending on the amount of selections.

  • 3 Selections = 6 Bets
  • 4 Selections = 12 Bets
  • 5 Selections = 20 Bets
  • 6 Selections = 30 Bets

Which Sports are Most Popular for Forecast Betting?

Forecasts are very popular and common bet types with certain sports. As we mentioned in the previous section, horse racing betting is a good example.

Horse racing forecasts make sense, because the selections can have pretty big odds, especially in a race with lots of runners. It means that you can place a reverse or combination forecast, at an increased cost and it can still be a worthwhile option.

Golf offers a similar scenario. There are a huge number of golfers in the average tournament, with many available at large betting odds. The outlay for combination forecasts can therefore be justified by the potential returns on offer, if you manage to predict the top two finishers.

Forecast betting on football can have a slightly different motivation. With this sport, you will often find that your forecast is based around an outright market, such as which team will win a league. When there is a very strong favourite in a league, which is often the case, the odds are not always big enough to make it worth backing as a single. When you combine the favourite to win, with another team to finish second, the forecast odds will generally be worth the risk.

How to Work Out a Forecast Bet

With a forecast in horse racing, there are official industry forecast returns released with every full result. This should not be confused with betting on the Tote and their Exacta pools product, which is similar in concept, but a separate entity.

With other sports you will be given the betting odds when you fill in the bet slip. Sometimes though, you want to know how much you could win and what the bet will cost, before you get to this stage. It can be complicated to work out, so we’d always suggest using a forecast betting calculator.

Forecast Calculator

Using a bet calculator means that you will know exactly what your stake will be and your potential forecast returns. Just enter the odds of the selection to win the race into the forecast bet calculator, the stake and the forecast option you are going for, whether that’s straight, reversed or combination.

You will then see an instant calculation. We have our own free bet calculator that you can use, that will work out your returns.

Pros & Cons of Forecast Betting Explained

No investigation into what is a forecast bet would be complete without weighing up the pluses and minuses of these types of bets. Here are the pros and cons as we see them.


  • Bigger odds than if you just back the winner
  • Makes sense if there are two strong favourites
  • Reverse forecast means that two picks can finish in either order
  • Combination forecasts useful for horse racing and golf events, with big fields


  • Straight forecasts and even reverse forecasts can be difficult to get right
  • Combination forecasts can prove expensive

When to Use the Forecast Betting System

Here are some instances when it can make sense to place a forecast in betting.

When Two Picks Are Better Than The Rest

There are some handicap races, tight golfing tournaments, or competitive football leagues, where you could make an argument for any number of the entrants to finish in the top two. Then there are some events where there is a gulf in class between two entrants and the rest of the pack. The situation in Spanish football with LaLiga is a prime example. Of the last 20 seasons, Barcelona and Real Madrid have finished in the top two places in 14 of them. In such an instance, a forecast, or reverse forecast is a natural bet to place.

When There Are Few Participants in an Event

Picking out a betting forecast on horse racing can be difficult if there are too many runners. If there are only a few horses running in a single race, picking out the top two finishers is obviously much easier. In such an event, the odds for the selections will all be a good deal shorter than will be the case, with a race featuring a large field. Giving yourself the challenge of picking out the first two finishers, rather than just the winner, will improve the overall price on settled bets.

A Fun Bet at Big Odds

Sometimes a forecast bet can be nothing more than a small stakes bet, that has big enough odds to potentially land you a tidy win. This is certainly true in golf, where the vast majority of players at any tournaments are available in the win market at double figures, at least. Throw a few golfers that you fancy together in a combination forecast and the accumulated odds will be enough to ensure that you can have a fun bet, with relatively little investment. Golf tournaments are actually rarely won by the favourites, so it’s worth having a flutter on some long-shots. 

Best Bookies for a Forecast Bet

With the forecast bet meaning now explained and elaborated upon, you may be looking to place such a wager yourself. Considering that forecasts are mainly used in sports such as horse racing, golf and football, it makes sense to use an online bookmaker that excels in these areas. We would recommend Quinnbet, who provide excellent coverage of all of these sports and have a number of attractive offers available for them.


The question of what is a forecast bet has been comprehensively answered. You’ve learned how the different types of forecasts work and when it makes sense to use them. It’s a bet that is available at all of our recommended bookies, so take your pick and try it out.


How to place a forecast bet?

Why place forecast bets?

How many bets in a combination forecast with 3 selections?

How many bets in a combination forecast with 4 selections?

Why is forecast betting so popular on golf tournaments?

Dan Fitch

A writer and editor for some of the top names in the gambling industry for nearly 20 years, Dan also works as a freelance sports journalist for publications and websites such as ESPN, FourFourTwo and LiveScore.