Each way bet – Bookies Gold or Punters Gem
The punters friend; an each way bet. The warm and fussy feeling it gives you when your horse is convincingly beaten but you still manage to make a small profit, and all thanks to them all round nice guys the bookie.
Wait a minute! The guy smoking a fat cigar, wearing a camel skin jacket and driving a ridiculously priced sports car is the nice guy? Let’s take a deeper look into the calculations behind each way bets and let the maths decide.
This article will cover the basics of each way betting, such as what it is and what the pay-out terms are, to the more complicated elements such as how a bookies each way book compares to its win only book. And a great Top 10 list for finding value bets. If you are more than familiar with each way betting click here to jump to the more interest stuff or here for the Top 10 tips.
What does each way betting mean
Let’s start with answering the main question for the newbies, what is an each way bet? Quite simply it is a bet on your selection to win or be placed. It’s a bet commonly associated with horse racing but can be seen in many other sports, particularly for outright betting markets – golf tournaments and top goalscorer markets to name a few.
An each way bet should in fact be looked upon as a combination bet, as you’re actually placing two separate bets, one to win and one to place. That’s why when you place a £10 each way bet you have to give the bookie twice that amount.
When it comes time for the bookie to give you your winnings the place bets odds will be a fraction of the win odds, generally a fourth or a fifth, discussed more in the next section. The win odds will remain the same.
Each way betting terms
Depending on what sport you are punting on the place terms can vary (the win bet will always stay the same as it would for a single outright winner bet), for example in football cup competitions you are normally paid for two places at half the odds and in golf you can be paid a fourth of the odds up to eight places.
But with horse racing being the realm of the each way punter, terms have been fixed by all the mainstream bookmakers. These each way terms have been broken down into two main sections – how many runners and is the race a handicap or not.
Each way bet terms for Non-Handicap Races
- 2-4 Runners: 1st place only
- 5-7 Runners: A 1/4 the odds over 2 places
- 8 or more Runners: A 1/5th the odds over 3 places
Each way bet terms for Handicap Races
- 2-4 Runners: 1st place only
- 5-7 Runners: A 1/4 the odds over 2 places
- 8-11 Runners: A 1/5th the odds over 3 places
- 12-15 Runners: A 1/4 the odds over 3 places
- 16 or more Runners: A 1/4 the odds over 4 places
For bigger races certain bookmakers will offer a promotion and pay-out on more places than the normal amount stated in their terms, the Grand National being an obvious choice. This should always be looked out for as it would be an extra blow if you and your mate had the same bet and he won money but you lost because you picked the wrong bookie.
Each way accumulator bet
Another great favourite of the punting public, to perm each way bets into accumulators, the reason being it now becomes more attractive to bet shorter priced horses. As I’ve said in a few other articles, I’m not against the idea of putting bets into multiples as long as each selection offers value, so each way bets are no different.
How each way betting works in accumulators or any other type of multiple bet is the same as for singles. You have two separate bets, one accumulator for winners and one for place bets.
Each way bet example
Ok, a quick example so that everyone is up to speed and then we’ll look at the more interesting aspects of the each way bet. You’ve placed a £50 each way bet on an 8 runner handicap race, you odds were 7.5 (13/2 fractional odds). As you can see from the bullet points above this pays for three places at a fifth of the odds. Now let’s work out the potential profit
Win part of the bet = 7.5 x 50 = £375
For the place part of the bet first work out the odds, remember with decimal odds a unit stake is included in the shown odds, so this must first be subtracted and then added back after dividing by the place terms.
((odds – unit stake)/place terms) + unit stake
((7.5 – 1)/5) + 1 = 2.3
Now multiple this by the stake and you get 2.3 x 50 = £115
Meaning if the horse was to win you’d get £375 + £115 = £490. If it just placed you’d get £115 and if it didn’t place you’d lose £100. These win about contain the original stake, that’s not all profit, it the horse just placing example you’d only have £15 profit.
If you’re more comfortable using fractional odds an easy method of calculating the place odds would be to multiple the denominator by the place terms. So for the example above, 13/2 would be 13/10 (multiplying 2, the denominator, by 5, the place terms)
Can you make money each way betting?
Right; now we have got all the basic stuff out the way, let’s cut right to the chase, as I know where this article is heading.
An each way bet is nearly always a mug bet!
There, I’ve said it, loud and clear. But let’s not just take my word for it, let’s look at why and then move on to when it is beneficial to place an each way bet.
Advanced maths behind an each way bet
To understand the reasoning of why is it generally a bad idea to place an each way bet you must first understand a bit of the maths behind how bookies price up a race. I’m not talking about compiling the horses odds yourself I just mean how their book prices work.
What you need to know for the scope of this article is the bookies hold amount, or book percentage as it now commonly known. For the win portion of an each way bet the bookie needs his hold amount to be greater than a hundred. For example, if it’s 110 then for every £110 bet, the bookie would pay out £100 in winnings, giving them £10 profit. Obviously this will only happen if each selection is bet with the correct amount. But theoretically the bookie in this example should make ten pounds for every hundred and ten taken in bets.
For the place portion of bets the hold value has to be greater than a hundred multiplied by the number of places. So for two place’s its 200, for three place’s 300, etc.
How this hold amount is calculated is by simple adding together the implied probability percentage of each selection together. If a horses odds are 4.0 then its percentage chance of winning is simply 100/4 so a 25% chance of winning.
If you haven’t fully understood that, please read it again, as it is fundamental to understanding when an each way bet is massively against you or it is in your favour.
An each way book
Firstly let’s look at a hypothetical and completely unrealistic race in order to demonstrate the value lost to the average punter blindly placing an each way bet. The race will be a 5 horse handicap, where each horse has been expertly weighted by the handicapper as to have exactly the same chances of winning the race. Now a very generous bookmaker has decided to have a 100% book on the win market, meaning that he should make no profit from straight win bets. As each horse has the same chances of winning he opens the race with each horse having odds of 5.0 (4/1).
In this example anyone betting for a horse to win is getting fair odds, but what about the mug punter that places an each way bet thinking he is taking less risk. Let’s use the maths we just learnt to form a table of the percentages each horse has to win or place and have a look at the bookies hold amounts.
As you can, if all horse are of equal strength and a bookie offered completely fair prices in a race as small as five runners, that bookie would still be able to pay his bills if taking each way bets. Making a £50 profit for every £200 he pays out, a margin of 20% profit. And this is a paten seen all the way up to the bigger and non-handicap races.
As this demonstrates, generally it would be best to just double your win stake than add an extra place bet to your betting slip. And although this is all hypothetical there are some obvious observations to take from this. Firstly the stand out margin price, that of the 16 runner handicap paying for 4 places. Secondly, that each group has its lowest margin of error for the bookies with the smallest number of runners. And thirdly, big non-handicaps and races with less than 8 runners offer by far the worst value.
Stay calm and keep reading
This looks all doom and gloom, from these figures it looks as though only 16+ runner handicaps will offer any real value. Well that is a big positive and not to be sniffed at, it’s rare for bookies to ever offer value to punters. And yes, in most other circumstances an each way bet will be against you. But there is more light in this dark tunnel, as you know horse racing is never that well handicapped or have equally fast runners, so odds vary massively.
How this helps punters is not obvious at first, so an example is in order. This time let’s step away from the theoretical and use a real life example. The good news I already know what to look out for, we have already seen that 8 runner races and 12-15 runner handicaps is where the bookies are making their smallest each way margins. Throw this in with a little shrewd punter knowledge it is very quick to look at a race card and see if a race has potential.
Spill the beans already I hear you screaming. Well the thing to look out for is short priced favs, depending on how many runners there are and what the bookmakers win margin is, this will change. But in general you are looking for odds on favs. When this happens the place prices go crazy and become near on impossible for bookies to have a book in their favour.
Thankfully while writing this article today there is a perfect example of this – the 16:35 at Chepstow. Here we have all the ingredients of a profitable each way bet, 8 runners and an odds on fav. I have taken a screen shot of all the odds early in the afternoon, these odds are likely to get more competitive in the run up to the race but already it will do nicely to demonstrate the point.
So now let’s look at the current win and place book one of the bookies is running at; we will look at Bet Victor odds. As you can see even with a mammoth 116% win book they still struggle to get anywhere near a good book for the price portion of the book (needing 300% for a break even book)
Here you will not be able to bet every horse and have the winnings from the place portions pay for the losses in the win section (this example would give minus £27.05 in the win market compared to plus £24.03 for the place if you dutch the fav to a hundred pounds). But if the bookie offered a slightly more competitive book this can happen, and you will see it when the fav gets really short. Although we’d never recommend greening out with the same bookie as you’ll be shut down within a couple of bets. This is just to show you the dangers bookmakers run with the current each way system and how you can look to exploit it.
Top 10 tips for making a profit betting each way
- Both sides of the bet must make sense
- Avoid seven or less runners
- Avoid large fields in non-handicapped races
- Take advantage of 16 runner handicaps
- Races with odds-on favs
- Race categories with minimum number of runners
- Enhanced place terms and places offered
- Bookmaker promotions and free bets
- Out of line prices
- General Tip
But remember, even with this maths knowledge and the top 10 list of thing to look out for, bookies aren’t stupid. They will be looking out for punters that are making solely these moves, you will have to mix up your game, use each way bets as one of the tools in your armoury, do each way accumulator bets or other multiples to try and hide it. Have other value bets you throw in the along with it, or maybe try place these bets in your local bookie.
Back in the day bookies priced up races solely on the win market, but the better trading rooms will now have the tools to see place liability’s as well, and will do all they can to minimise this loses, so don’t be under the opinion this is a fool proof method and you can had you notice in tomorrow. To profit you will need to stay under the radar, and know the bookies will be looking for you and once found you will be limited or banned from betting. So happy punting!