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How To Profit From Each Way Betting

Each way betting is often misunderstood and used the wrong way by punters, or simply seen as a lack of confidence in one's selections actually winning. However, when applied sensibly and logically, betting each-way can be a massive weapon with which to beat the bookmakers regularly and make steady profits. 

The Place Terms

RunnersPlace Terms
1-4Win Only (No Place Betting)
5-71st & 2nd 1/4 the odds
8+1st, 2nd and 3rd 1/5 the odds
12-15 Handicaps1st, 2nd and 3rd 1/4 the odds
15+ Handicaps1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th 1/4 the odds

How are place odds determined? An example:

In a 12 runner handicap you place £10 each way at 8-1. If the horse wins you receive back £90 in total for the win part and £30 back for the place (1/4 off the price a place). Returning a profit of £100 for your £20 stake. If the horse was placed 2nd or 3rd you would lose the £10 win stake but return £30 for the place bet. An overall profit of £10 on the £20 staked.

Only if the horse finishes out of the first three do you lose the full £20 stake. 

The actual place price

The key with each way betting is to play in uncompetitive races where very few runners can be given a realistic chance of reaching the frame. Always consider the actual price of a horse being placed and ask yourself if you would be willing to take that price as a bet on its own. For example, in a 15 runner handicap you are very keen on the 8-1 chance who you felt was an unlucky loser last time out. He is an exuberant frontrunner who seems sure to get the lead from an ideal low draw. However, is 2-1 a fair price for him finishing in the first three with 14 others contesting a tight handicap? Furthermore, given his run style, blazing the trail from the front, he is not being ridden with any other intention other than winning. If he is headed or taken on for the lead his actual price of reaching the frame is surely much bigger. The calculation of the actual price a horse is to reach the frame is far more complex than pure mathematical one.

The edge in a punters favour

Mathematically the place terms traditionally offered by bookmakers are outdated and not at all to their advantage. This is something astute punters can exploit. In recent years the advent of modern systems has meant the layers all use the latest technology to calculate their theoretical margin in both the win and place market. This has been a rude awakening for many, as it has illustrated that in certain races they are betting wildly over-broke i.e. with no margin at all. In particular 16 runner handicaps where the terms are 1/4 the odds a place 1,2,3,4, or races where there is a long odds-on favourite, the place prices offered are completely out of kilter with the actual true prices.

Sadly for punters the advent of betting exchanges offering specific place markets have illustrated this plainly for all to see, and it is now very hard to "get on" each way. In the dying on-course market it is nigh on impossible to find many layers offering the "correct" place terms, and on the internet the online firms heavily limit staking for these "bad each-way" races. Betting shops even have a daily list emailed through to their managers detailing the races which are not "suitable" for stakes over a certain (low) amount. 

The Golden Age

Pre-Betfair the value available to the astute punter really was amazing. Firms were blind-sided in the uncompetitive races, often pleased to see business for other runners other than the well backed favourite.

From personal experience as a horse racing trader for a medium sized company in the 1990's, we only had field books that showed the P&L bottom line for Win betting. Every time there was an odds-on favourite we were pleased to see such good turnover and spread of business, often ending up with all-green books i.e. no losers, as a result of laying all the runners. However, when the full 1,2,3 result was settled we found we had suffered regular losses and on a heavy scale, particularly if the odds-on favourite had obliged and the second/third in the betting filled the places.

The accurate Betfair place market now shows the whole world what the true prices are to fill the frame, for example in an 8 runner novice hurdle the prices offered by conventional bookmakers are as follows.

RunnerWin OddsPlace Odds (Place Book % 260, 300% needed to balance book)
11/2 f1/10
210/12/1
350/110/1
48/18/5
5100/120/1
64/14/5
740/18/1
850/110/1

Judged by the betting, only 4 runners have realistic claims of reaching the frame in an incident free race, yet the outdated place terms produce prices of 4-5 8-5 and 2-1 about the three most likely to be placed outside of the odds-on favourite. Compare this with Betfair place market, formed by true supply and demand.

RunnerPlace Odds (Place Book % Approx 305%)
11.16 (or 1/6)
22.20 (or 6/5)
37.00 (or 6/1)
47.00 (or 6/1)
51.90 (or 9/10)
617.00 (or 16/1)
71.30 (or 3/10)
86.50 (or 11/2)

Clearly this is a deliberately extreme example, however it serves to illustrate that the odds are very much in the punters favour if they can find the "right" races to play in.

Getting on

The theory behind each-way betting can be simple, but these days getting a bet on can be a bigger problem. As mentioned before, the firms are now very aware of this discrepancy between their old place terms and modern reality of exchange led win prices. Many pro-punters use the cover of betting in cash in the shops, or placing accumulator e.w bets to try and avoid the restrictions that blight so many attempting to place these type of bets on a daily basis.

Patrick Veitch, in his autobiographical "Enemy Number One", detailed how he sought out formerly heavy losing punters to place bets each-way (mainly in large field handicaps where he specialised and where the layers pay 1/4 the odds 1,2,3,4). These agents had their bets welcomed by the layers, used to dealing with "mug" each way business in these "impossible" wide open handicaps, and quickly turned their P&L around much to the layers dismay.

On other occasions he used to plan various disguises so that his putters-on would not be recognised as they moved from shop to shop placing his bets.

A lot of pro-backers report some of their biggest wins as coming from each-way multiple bets where they have been basically seeking to land the place accumulator, only for all the horses to actually win. This is why the bets are so hard to place and bookmakers hate them...there is no upside for them at all as they are laying totally wrong place prices to half the bet and still have the unpleasant win liability should the unexpected happen.

Although waiting for this life changing win can be a very long wait, most pro's find they can grind out a regular profit over time if playing regularly in these "bad each way" races.

The key to success is to play each-way only when you get beat the place price offered in the "perfect" Betfair market. If doing this kind of arbitrage (without laying back the other side) the punter is already on the right track to winning regularly.