Rule 4 Explained - How to calculate a Rule 4 deduction

Sunday 7 February 2021

Horse racing punters will have seen that on some occasions when they are paid out by their bookmaker that their returns are smaller than they expected. On their bet slip receipt, they see ‘rule 4 deduction wrote, and that is the reason for the smaller returns. Has this happened to you before? Do you know what a rule 4 deduction is, and how they work? Even the most seasoned punters can struggle with the rule 4, so here is all you need to know about it before you place your next horse racing bet.

What is a Rule 4 Deduction?

When you place a horse racing bet and you take an early price, you are backing your horse based on the field at the time of your bet, and taking a price based on that. If there are 10 runners in the race, and you back your horse at 8/1, the reason that horse is 8/1 is because of the other nine runners in the field, and their chances of winning.

If the favourite is taken out of the race, and you go down to nine total runners without the favourite, then your horse would have a much better chance and be a much shorter price than the 8/1 that was on offer. To protect the bookmakers in this instance, they will apply a rule 4 deduction to your bet, taking off an amount of money per pound that you win to compensate them for the fact that the favourite did not run.

While rule 4 deductions can be very annoying for punters, what the bookmakers are doing is completely fair and above board. There are standard rules in place to help you work out rule 4 deductions, and these are followed by all bookmakers. After you have taken the price on your horse you are entered into a fixed agreement with the bookmaker, the much smaller SP doesn’t matter to your bet, which is why these deductions have to be used.

How Much is Taken in a Rule 4 Deduction?

It is important to understand the rule 4 process fully and the main part of that is knowing what the bookmaker will take off you. This is fixed and the same across all bookmakers, so whatever gets taken from you will get taken off every punter who is in the same situation.

The amount of money taken from you is based on every pound that you get back, and it is based upon the price of the horse that is withdrawn. The price taken is the last price that was available before the horse was withdrawn, and the amounts taken off you are all in the table below.


Price at Withdrawal

R4 Deduction

1/9 or shorter


2/11 to 2/17


1/4 to 1/5


3/10 to 2/7


2/5 to 1/3


8/15 to 4/9


8/13 to 4/7


4/5 to 4/6


20/21 to 5/6


Evens to 6/5


5/4 to 6/4


8/5 to 7/4


9/5 to 9/4


12/5 to 3/1


16/5 to 4/1


9/2 to 11/2


6/1 to 9/1


10/1 to 14/1


Over 14/1

No deduction

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