It would be great to be able to pick out a winner in every horse race we bet on, but the reality is that this simply isn’t possible – there are many instances where we need to hedge our literal bets.
Sometimes we might think an outsider is the best value on a racecard, but aren’t necessarily convinced they will win.
In both of these scenarios, each way betting is an essential weapon in the armoury, and understanding the ins and outs of E/W bets will leave you better equipped to tackle the challenge of betting on the horses.
There are two things that tend to confuse individuals when it comes to each way betting – the place odds and the number of places paid.
So, in this article, we thought we’d offer a beginner’s guide on everything you need to know about hitting the places with your E/W bets.
What are the Places in Horse Racing?
Clearly, the object of the connections of any racehorse is to win each and every renewal that they enter, but clearly this isn’t possible – unless the horse is a freak of nature like Frankel, of course, who was unbeaten over the course of his fourteen race career.
What the places in horse racing allow for is connections to earn prize money even when their entry doesn’t win, and punters share this same benefit too, because bookies will pay out on place bets or each way bets if your horse finishes in one of the top spots.
Each race has a specified number of places paid – this is largely determined by the number of runners in a field. You will see it displayed on the racecard provided by your bookmaker – either on the sheets provided in your local betting shop, or on the website/app of the bookie in question.
Here, we have the head of the market for the Punchestown Gold Cup, and highlighted in red we can see:
- The place terms – 1/5 odds
- The number of places – 3 (1st, 2nd, and 3rd displayed as 1-2-3)
So, we know that if our horse finishes second or third, we will be paid out at 1/5 of their odds.
How Many Places are Paid on an Each Way Bet?
While it’s not an exact science, for reasons we will detail in the next section, there is a general rule of which confirms how many places will be paid – and the place terms – based upon the number of horses in the race.
You can use the following as a reliable guide:
|No. of Horses||Places Paid||Place Odds|
|2 to 4||win only||n/a|
|5 to 7||2||1/4|
|8 to 11||3||1/5|
|12 to 15||3||1/4|
There’s a couple of caveats to note here. In handicap races, you will enjoy the 1/4 odds displayed for races of eight or more runners. But in non-handicap races of 8+ entries, you will revert back to the 1/5 terms instead.
When Do Bookmakers Pay More Places?
There are some instances in which the general rule of thumb over each way places/odds gets cast aside.
It usually happens with the big races, where the bookmakers – seeking as much traffic as they can get their hands on – will publicise enhanced offers of five, six or even seven places for major renewals like the Grand National.
You’ll also find these days that many books offer advanced each way terms at the expense of shorter odds – these are promos often with names like ‘each way extra’ or ‘each way edge’. Punters can increase the number of places at their disposal while accepting less-generous odds, so the chances of a result are higher but the payout is smaller… finding the sweet spot between the two is usually the key to value betting.
Each Way Betting vs To Be Placed
Most bookies offer you the option to bet on the ‘to be placed’ market alongside their traditional each way offering. But which is the most sound option financially?
First, let’s have a reminder of how each way bets are calculated. You have £10 in hand and want to bet on Clan Des Obeaux in the Punchestown Gold Cup.
So, you take him £5 each way – a fiver of that goes to the win portion, the other fiver to the place market – at odds of 7/1.
The place terms in the nine-horse race are 1-2-3 and 1/5, and so we can calculate our potential returns as follows:
- If Clan Des Obeaux wins, our total return is £52 (£42 winnings, £10 stake back)
- If Clan Des Obeaux places, our total return is £12 (£2 winnings, £10 stake back)
- If Clan Des Obeaux fails to win or place, we lose £10
If we examine the ‘to be placed’ market, we note that we can bet on Clan Des Obeaux to finish inside the top three at odds of 5/4. Now let’s examine the numbers: if he succeeds, our £10 stake would net a total return of £22.50 (£12.50 winnings, £10 stake back).
So, in conclusion, if we think that Clan Des Obeaux will place – but we’re not confident he will win – then backing the horse in the ‘to place’ market is actually the smarter play. Of course, if he does go on to triumph we’ll feel a bit frustrated with ourselves, but our place bet would still be successful, of course.
So making the decision of whether to go each way or straight to the place market will be determined by just how good you think the horse is, and whether you consider their win odds to be a value proposition or not.