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I first heard of the Racecaller site because of a sign-up promotion offered by www.pigsback.com. For those of you who aren't already collecting your Piggypoints, I'd better give a brief explanation of Pigsback, as it is integral to the way I use the Racecaller site.
www.pigsback.com is a type of cashback site, offering Piggypoints which can be exchanged for rewards such as gift vouchers, novelty items and donations to charity. You can earn points by 'clicking through' to other websites that are being promoted by Pigsback, win points by entering competions or earn them as a percentage of a spend through a partner site. The other way to boost your Piggypoints total is by signing up with partner sites. The latter was the reason that I signed up to the Racecaller site originally.
The promotion available at the time was that you earnt 100 Piggypoints for registering with Racecaller through the link on the Pigsback site. This offer is still available at the time of writing (September 2008). 100 Piggypoints is worth approximately £1 (just under due to the admin fee that's added to the cost of rewards. A £10 gift voucher tends to 'cost' around 1150 Piggypoints.) Registration at Racecaller takes just a few minutes so it's well worth doing just for the extra Piggypoints - even if you have no interest in horseracing or gambling whatsoever! To get your 100 Piggypoints you need to place at least one bet at Racecaller (read on for more advice about how that works.)
So that's Pigsback - what's all this about Racecaller then?
Racecaller is a free to use site that gives you the pleasure of betting on horse races without actually using your own hard-earned cash! It's a 'virtual bookmakers' in that you bet on a horse using points, but do have the possibility of winning real cash awards (as betting credit on a traditional bookmaker's site) if you end up at the top of a league at the end of the month. Every member that signs up through Pigsback will be automatically entered into the Pigsback league as well as the main Racecaller league. (Bonus Piggypoints are available for the Top Ten in the Pigsback league each month - up to a maximum of 5000 Piggypoints.)
Each Racecaller member is automatically issued with 200 points every month and these are what you use to 'bet' on particular horse races. You can only bet on one horse per day and you can bet either 5, 10 or 20 points each time. This is a little bit confusing as some people (ie: me) originally thought that the points used to bet were piggypoints and I put off signing up to Racecaller for quite a while as I thought I was gambling away my own Piggypoints. In spite of the connection between Pigsback and Racecaller, these bets are very different from the jackpots available on Pigsback.
So - just for the record - racecaller points are not the same as Piggypoints and you don't risk losing any Piggypoints by betting on races at Racecaller. Okay - is everyone still with me so far? What's that? Clear as mud?! Right, now to confuse you even more.... Providing you register with Racecaller using the link on the Pigsback site (and use the same email address that you use on Pigsback), every time you bet on a winning horse at Racecaller you earn 10 Piggypoints for your Pigsback account. So - just to recap - you bet your racecaller points on a horse and, if that horse wins, you get bonus Piggypoints! (I'm beginning to regret starting this review now!)
Using the site to bet on horses is very simple. I try to place a bet every day as this way I maximise the chances of earning more Piggypoints. I don't know much about horse racing and don't understand betting odds so I tend to cheat and just bet on the horse that is listed as the 'most tipped' on the top right of the homepage on Racecaller. If you don't know how to use the site, there is a handy how-to guide on the left hand side of the page. Click on How To Play League and it brings up some step-by-step screenshots of the betting process which explains everything much better than I could here!
There are two ways of trying to earn money through Racecaller. You can either go through the low value 'boost your Piggypoints' route which involves picking a 'sure favourite' (although seasoned gamblers will know that there is no such thing) in a race with very few riders. This is the sort of horse that is usually the 'most tipped' as this is recommended by 'thePearce' who posts regularly on the Pigsback thread on MSE. This horse is more likely to win and, therefore, more likely to earn you the bonus Piggypoints. As the odds are lower, you won't earn much in terms of Racecaller points so you won't get far in the league tables that way.
If you are a bit of a gambler and not too fussed about earning a few Piggypoints every month, you can choose an outsider. The odds will be much better so, if that horse does win, you will earn more Racecaller points. The league tables are shown on the Racecaller site and it's clear when you look at that that it's possible to top the league when you only back a few winning horses - simply because the odds are so much higher. Remember at Racecaller it's only the winners that count. You don't earn any points for coming second or third.
I didn't intend to produce a 'how to use Racecaller guide' with this review. (Which is lucky as I've only succeeded in giving myself a bit of a headache and I've probably confused a fair few of you out there!) The bits that you need to now are:
- Racecaller is very easy to use. It's much simpler than this review might make it seem (!) and has an idiot-proof guide on the site to placing bets and how the leagues and prizes work
-You can earn extra Piggypoints by picking winners at Racecaller
-Racecaller doesn't cost you anything at all - whether in cash or Piggypoints but you do have a chance of winning some credit to make real cash bets with
-You can use the site even if you know nothing about odds or horse racing. (I am testament to that!)
- Piggypoints get added to your Pigsback account during the first week or two of each calendar month. (They are paid in arrears.)
-You can only bet on one horse per day unless your horse is a non-runner
-Racecaller makes horse racing interesting!
Edit May 09: Racecaller no longer give free piggypoints for placing bets so I don't tend to use them any more.