The Guide to Each Way Betting
Each-way betting is a popular basic betting strategy that is widespread with punters in the UK and Ireland as races tend to have significantly more runners than many thoroughbred contests in other parts of the globe.
The each-way bet consists of two separate wagers made at the same stake on the same horse. One of the bets (or lines) is a bet to win while the other is a bet to place.
Should the horse wind up winning the race, both the win bet and the place bet pay a dividend but if the horse fails to win but still manages to run a solid race and finish third (or fourth or even fifth depending on the number of individual runners) you will be paid out one of the winning lines, in this case the place.
The each-way bet is a versatile wager that can offer up a solid return on investment with a built-in protection against the “what if” factor should your selection not turn out to be as hot as you might have predicted. Each-way bets tend to be best-executed when you are backing a horse that you're confident in but not many other people seem to be.
Very few people can put together consistent profits on thoroughbred races by backing a series of short-priced winners. Since the general rule of thumb is that favourites tend to win around 1/3 of the races that are run – which means 2/3's of winners are outside contenders who outran the punters preferred choice to win.
Finding horses that look to outrun their expectations and offer potentially large returns on investment is the best basic approach to a profitable day at the races.
Each-way betting is an attractive strategy for a novice punter not looking to part with a big stack of money, but still looking to have a proper gamble. The tricky part of each-way betting is that you're always looking for the sweet spot where you're getting a good return on both the win and the place selection.
Some punters are happy to simply use an each-way bet as insurance and will try to align their wagers to win their money back should their horse run third rather than first. Other punters will insist on a 4/1 or 5/1 ROI on the place bet alone before opting for an each-way wager.
Asking the Right Questions
The truth about each-way betting is that there is no 100% successful approach – otherwise everybody would be doing it. To find your sweet spot for each-way betting, try asking yourself these two important questions before you head to the windows or click “bet”:
- Should I be making a win-only wager instead?
- Should I be making a place-only wager instead?
Let's say you were looking to wager £100 on a specific race and you've found a really interesting shot priced at 10/1 in a field of eight horses.
There are five contenders with shorter prices than him but he put in a very sharp work and just added blinkers so you reckon he will improve though there is a distinct chance that he won't. The betting favourite for your hypothetical race is trading at 2/1.
Is an each-way bet appropriate here? Bet him to win only and you're looking at a return of £1100 if he comes in. That's a solid profit and would likely make your day if you weren't betting on too many races. However, there appear to be better selections in the race according to other punters and you can back your selection at a place price of around 3/1.
If you put the entire £100 on him to just come in during the top three then you would receive a £400 total payout from your wager should he run to your expectations.
In this circumstance, an each-way bet would be two-line bet of £50 to win and £50 to place. If your selection wins the race you would be looking at a £550 return from the win bet and a £200 from the place wager for a total of £750 from your £100 wager.
Does that sound like a better balance of risk and reward? Most seasoned punters would tell that this is not the circumstances to be placing an each way wager and that you are probably better off choosing either the win-only or the place-only. If you're a novice who isn't looking to lose much, this is a surefire time to make a place wager – not an each-way.
An each-way bet is best executed on contenders priced around 20/1 or above that reckon to seriously outrun their odds. By learning to look for breakout contenders – not horses who've been doing well recently and should continue – you will be able to get a much better ROI when making a number of each-way wagers.
Finding the Sweet Spot
Say that horse of yours from a minute ago is running against 18 other runners and trades at 20/1 with a few lukewarm favourites around 4/1 or 5/1. A win-only bet would return a nice profit of £2100, but your horse needs to beat seventeen other contenders – several of whom carry much shorter odds.
His place price would probably be around 6/1 and would would return £700 off your £100 wager. However, the each-way bet looks relatively appealing with £50 per line paying out at £1000 and £350, respectively for a total of £1350. This is an each-way bet that hits the sweet spot.
The each-way bet fits in very nicely with what many handicappers call the “key race theory” where punters spend time poring over form-cards looking for class drops, equipment changes, or a horse moving from one track or surface to another.
These details on the form-card show that the trainer is using their judgment to deploy the horse in a different way than it was previously. The best long-shot bets are on horses with mediocre records that still look to have potential and boast a trainer who has suddenly figured out where and how the horse should run.
By adopting the key race method you are looking for horses that other punters seem to be ignoring, but you think they might be poised for a break-out performance as indicated by some variation (or a series of variations) to what has been done in the past.
The each-way wager allows you to generate profits even when you aren't 100% sure a horse will get the job done, but you're confident that he'll run a solid race. This bigger margin for error can help novices get better acquainted with the game while lessening risk, as long as they can find the sweet spot.