A Calcutta betting primer


The Hotel Wolf is hosting The Saratoga Lions Club's annual Calcutta auction Friday night for the state championship races and the 36th Annual Donald E. Erickson Memorial Chariot races this weekend.

The Calcutta-style betting, which auctions teams off to the highest bidder, is the primary way the Lions Club raises funds for the chariot races and other activities throughout the year.

Joe Glode, one of the Lions Club organizers, has some good advice for those new to the unique style of betting. "You're going to see a sheet with all the races listed on it ... Each race is going to have two or three teams on it. Let's call them Team A, Team B and (possibly) Team C ... Focus just on that race (for now). Each team is auctioned off to the person who offers the most money for a particular team." Once each auction is complete, the bets between those two teams are locked in and separate from any other auctions made for those two teams.

Glode goes on to explain the tricky part of the betting. "Now let's say one team (Team A) is auctioned off for $80, and the second team (Team B) auctions for $20. We now have a $90 pot (after the Lions Club takes 10 percent for fundraising purposes) that the winning bettor will claim if their team wins." See table below.

The trick, according to Glode, "is to play the odds, because while Team A may be favored to win a particular race the "owner" (the person who won the auction for that team) had to pay $80 to win $90 while the person who bid on Team B has a chance to win $90 with only a $20 buy in."

Three auctions take place at 8 p.m. Friday night at the Hotel Wolf and "as many auctions as we can fit in trackside between the races," Glode said.

Another Calcutta auction will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday night, where the public is invited to the Community Center located at 110 W. Elm for a prime rib dinner provided by Doug Campbell of the Hotel Wolf. The dinner includes a salad, mashed potatoes and a brownie for dessert for $25.


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