Ultimate Guide To Place Betting
When To Consider The Place Betting Markets
The hardest thing in getting the balance right between value, price and strike rate. In Horse Racing you can make money by backing the favourite at short odds but this requires a specific approach and staking plan – more on that another day – equally there is money to be made backing further down the field at more ‘generous' odds, but the challenge then becomes how to deal with the frustration of enduring, the inevitable, long losing streaks that will occur at the longer odds selections. It's as much mental as it is the ability to pick the winner.
That said, if you feel you have identified value, you might consider place betting as a viable alternative or complementary solution to your win bets.
What is place betting?
In simple terms, you are betting on a horse to finish in one of the top positions in a race.
Traditionally, bookmakers have offered these as a part of each-way markets. These are actually two bets combined into one. The first bet would be placed on a selection to win and the second bet would be for a selection to place. The second bet is usually offered at either ¼ or ⅕ of the win bet odds depending on how many runners are in the race, and the type of race being run. Although there are exceptions and special markets for some races, here is a general guide.
- Races with 4 or less runners will have no place market
- Races with 5-7 runners will offer ¼ (25%) of the win odds for 2 places
- Races with 8-16 runners offer 1/5 (20%) of the win odds for 3 places
- Races with 16+ runners will offer ¼ (20% of the win odds for 4 places
Here is an example below. You can see in the first image, the odds for a selection of horses to win.
Here you can also see the option to bet on a place only market. In this case, the odds are 1/5 of the win odds as there are 11 runners in this race.
Place betting with the exchanges
With the advent of betting exchanges like Betfair, this has offered new opportunities to bet on place markets. There are some advantages to betting on the exchange on place markets in particular.
1) You can bet at the starting price- If you believe that your selection may drift in odds by the start of the race, you can place a bet at Betfair Starting Price and your bet will be matched at the price at the start of the race. Of course, there is also a risk that the odds will move against you so you must be prepared if you choose this option.
2) Better Odds– You may often find that the odds at the exchange are better than those available at bookmakers. However, be mindful that commission is charged on every winning bet on betfair and should be factored into your calculations. Commission on other exchanges may be less but odds will differ and you may find it difficult to get matched at higher stakes.
3) Extra places– You might fancy your horse’s chances but you might prefer the extra insurance of an extra place. Some races don’t offer extra places at the bookmaker but betfair may have an extra place market for you at shorter odds.
Place betting with the bookmakers
Of course you may still prefer to place bets with bookmakers and there are some advantages to doing so.
1) Best Odds Guaranteed– Some bookmakers offer what’s known as best odds guaranteed. If the starting price is higher than the odds you originally placed, the bookmaker will pay out at the higher odds for you.
2) Extra place races– Occasionally, bookmakers will offer races with extra places. These tend to happen for big race meetings so it’s worth keeping an eye out for. This offers opportunities for savvy punters to gain additional value or even potential for arbitrage. Just be careful to check the odds offered on extra place races, however. An extra place will usually mean shorter odds than other bookmakers so you must make a decision on whether this extra insurance is worth this extra cost.
3) Cover bets/Insurance Bets– Some bookmakers offer insurance or cover bets. Although this isn’t quite the same as place betting, you will get your stake returned if your horse finishes in the designated number of places. The cost of this insurance is that the horse’s win odds are lower.
Place Betting Strategies
In future articles, we will discuss more advanced strategy such as stake management for place betting and the Pareto principle. To start with, here are a few basic strategies that will help improve your strike rate on place betting.
- Look for the optimal number of horses in your race– There can be exceptions but as a general rule, you will be paid out on 2 places for races with 7 runners or less. Therefore a race with 8 runners represents the smallest possible field with 3 places and therefore the best chance for you to profit from your selection. You can also look at races where the odds for places will change from ¼ to 1/5 with the smallest field to improve your chances.
- Look for market movers– You can use oddschecker to see which horses look to be shortening in price. Even with no prior research, if you can consistently find horses that are going to shorten in price and you are able to get your bet on before that happens, you will find yourself in profit long term.
- Do your research- Contrary to the last point, use research to help you make your selections. How has this horse performed in previous runs? Are they a consistent place finisher? Are they well handicapped? Do the conditions suit this particular horse?
- Avoid short priced selections– Although these can still be profitable, they might be best avoided when starting out. You may think that these will steadily increase the bankroll but a few losses in a row will inevitably end up being frustrating and the wins will be small and take longer for you to recover. Find a strike rate you are comfortable with and adjust your minimum odds from there. My own criteria is a minimum of around 1.7 but this is completely down to your preference.
- Extra Places- look out for extra markets provided by Betfair offering more or less placings than the standard each way placings
- Split Stakes- consider splitting your stakes higher on the place markets with a smaller proportion on the win market. (Rather than the 50/50 you have to do with the traditional bookmaker)
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