The Guaranteed Big Profit Race and The Facts You Need to Know Before Placing Any Each Way Bet

Win, Each Way or Place Only? That’s the question that faces the punter before placing his bet. As we had a piece in an earlier issue on Place only betting, I thought that this month we would look at Each Way betting.

Ideally, we are looking for a race like this one. It took place at Leicester on Monday 24th May 2004. It was an 8-runner race, with New Morning a 1-16 prohibitive odds favourite. A race to avoid you might think. But you’d be wrong. The returned prices of the other 7 runners were 25-1, 50-1 and upwards. So, you could have backed all 7 runners to a tenner each way, an outlay of £140, and be guaranteed a minimum return of £170 – £60 on the second favourite and £110 on the next. In the event, the favourite duly won, the second came in at 66-1 and the third at 50-1, giving a return of £252. Not a bad little profit of £112 for absolutely no risk. Of course, you don’t find races like that every day, but it’s always worth looking for each way value when you see a long odds-on favourite.

One of the favourite bets of the legendary punter Alex Bird many years ago was just such a bet, but with a slight difference. He would look for two races with an odds-on favourite and preferably 8 or 9 runners, and then he’d back the second favourites in an each way double. Eventually, bookmakers refused such bets, and even today some are not too keen to accept them. In Bird’s day all each way betting was to a quarter of the odds, and I even have odds reckoners going back to pre-Bird days where a third of the odds was paid on each way bets. The reduction to a fifth the odds a place is testament to the success of the Bird plan.

Now, it may seem obvious, but before placing an each way bet make sure that you are completely familiar with the terms for each way betting. I say this because I have in front of me an expensive each way system, and a good one, where the writer says, and I’ll give his exact words,

“The only bet in my view is the each way bet, given the right conditions and acquiring the right price. There has to be a minimum of 7 runners. In a 6 runner race the bookie gives you one chance, Win Only, that’s one against the bookie’s five. In a 7 runner race the bookie gives you two chances, the first two, that’s two against the bookie’s five.

That is absolute nonsense, and from someone who should know better! So, to make it plain to everyone, in case there is still somebody who is as misguided as our system inventor, here are the facts on each way betting. With 4 runners or less your horse has to win. With 5, 6 or 7 runners your selection can be first or second, and the place element will be paid at a quarter of the odds. With non-handicap races of 8 runners and upwards the place odds are paid on first, second and third at one fifth of the odds. The same is true for handicap races of 8, 9, 10 or 11 runners. But handicap races of 12, 13, 14 and 15 runners pay a quarter of the odds for being first, second and third. Handicap races of 16 runners or more pay a quarter of the odds for being first, second, third and fourth. These are the basic each way rules. Some bookmakers will give extended odds such as a quarter the odds for five places in handicap races of 22 runners upwards. And some will even pay these same odds in special handicap races of 16 runners or more.

Armed with these facts I used to think that I had the best each way bet possible with the following:

I’d look for races with 5 runners and an odds-on favourite, preferably one that was slightly suspect and then back the second favourite each way. With two chances out of five of being placed I had a 40% chance of success, and I’d get paid a quarter the odds.

Compare that with the more popular each way bet using races with 8 or 9 runners, where you get paid on three places. That is, with 8 runners you have a 37.5% chance of success and with 9 it is 33% – not as good as my 40%, and also you’re getting paid a fifth the odds compared with my quarter. Yes, one up to me.

Two other points. I would always look for a price of at least 9-2 to ensure a profit on the place bet. If, like Alex Bird, I wanted to back an each way double, the two suitable races did not have to take place on the same day. They could be days or even weeks apart with the stakes and possible winnings carried over from the first race to the second leg.

And then I came across some calculations that forced me to look again at my approach. I’m sorry if you don’t like figures but we’ll have to make use of them. In my 5 horse race the true odds against each horse winning are obviously 4-1, and place odds a quarter of that, making the place odds an evens bet. That’s what we are paid. But the chance of landing that bet is 2 out of 5 or 6-4 against. So, I’m getting evens for what should be 6-4, not such a good bet after all. If you do the same calculations for three places in an 8 or 9 runner field, or upwards, at a fifth the odds a place you’ll find the same thing happening – the odds are in the bookie’s favour. Is there no hope for us then? Fortunately, the answer is – yes, there is!

We’ve all heard John McCririck on Channel 4 racing going on about the withdrawal of a horse from a 16-runner handicap race, making it a 15-runner race instead. And he’s right to complain, because it makes a huge difference. Let’s look at the figures. In our 16-runner handicap the true odds against each horse are clearly 15-1. We are paid a quarter the odds a place, that is 3.75 to 1. The chances of landing that place bet are 4 out of 16, or 3-1 against. So, we are getting paid 3.75 for what should be 3, three quarters of a point in our favour for every bet. Doesn’t sound much perhaps, until you realise that casino gamblers playing blackjack, for example, would be ecstatic to achieve such an edge. It’s reckoned that in blackjack a really expert card-counter can overturn the built-in house advantage and secure for himself a margin of up to about three quarters of 1%. And if we can find a bookmaker paying on five places in a 16-runner handicap race, our advantage is even greater. It’s still 3.75 that we are paid, but our chances of getting a place are 5 out of 16 or 2.2 to 1 against. That puts us 1.53 ahead, in betting terms quite massive.

But now let’s look at the McCririck scenario. With a runner withdrawn and only 15 runners there are only three places paid. The true odds are 14-1 and at a quarter the odds a place we are paid 3.5 to 1. But the chances are now 3 out of 15 or 4-1 against. The half point advantage has gone back to the bookmaker. So we can see why it looks so suspicious when a runner is withdrawn at the last moment.

Now that you’ve seen how the calculations work you can do it for yourself and see that the punter maintains his advantage in handicaps of over 16 upwards, and if five places are paid in handicaps of 22 runners or more then the punter has a bigger advantage still. These then are the races to consider for each way betting.

But how to pick our each way selections for such races – that will have to wait until another time!

CLIVE NOTE: With the advent of betting exchanges it is wholly possible now to bet 4 for the place in 16 runner handicaps where there is a non-runner, and 3 for the place in an 8-runner race that has reduced to 7 runners.

I have taken the idea of each way betting to heart with some spectacular results of late on my weblog at . Saturday saw a day like no other with the bookies running for cover -WINNERS AT 4/1, 11/2, 14/1, 25/1, 14/1, 6/1, 6/1,6/1, 7/1 not including placed only horses prove the effectiveness of an each way philosophy as against my old methods of picking ultra short-priced hot pots.