One thing that never ceases to amaze me is the reluctance of some people to embrace each-way betting. To some, it’s all about puffing their chests out and declaring ‘winners are what count’. To a certain extent this is true, but, there are scenarios when the place part is actually the ‘value’ play and others when it is woefully bad value.
I am not about to waste anyone’s time extolling the virtues of the ‘snide’ each-way second favourite. You all know the set up, an 8 horse race where the favourite is 2/5, the second fav is 5/1 and it’s 14/1 bar two, the ‘bet to nothing’ as it is generally known….. We all know that the Even money about the second fav being in the first three is bonkers and it’s why bookmakers (fairly in my opinion) close accounts of those who try to sneak these ‘snides’ through and offer-the-door to shop punters who attempt to do likewise. It’s no good crying foul and repeating the hackneyed old cliche that ‘they set the terms, therefore, they should honour them’, it’s never going to happen and nor should it, these races are anomalies and should be treated as such. What I would rather focus on are the scenarios which favour the punter mathematically, without obviously being ‘bad’ each-way races.
On Saturday morning I was flicking through the blog of yet another ‘would be tipster’ (who shall remain nameless), a succession of which have sprung up via Twitter in recent times. His selections were profitable, John Spirit, Creepy each-way (a bit ‘snide’) and Guitar Pete each-way amongst others. The thing that struck me was that he specifically tipped Guitar Pete each-way at 7/1 with the bookmakers and not ‘win and place’ on the exchanges. This was a seven horse race with a short priced favourite, to ‘tip’ taking 7/4 about the place part of this bet (two places) when 5/2 was freely available on the exchanges showed, in my opinion, a naivety quite shocking if you expect others to take your opinions seriously, or, simply a total lack of basic arithmetic. It is no accident that if you compare the place odds on offer on the exchanges to their equivalent with the bookmakers there are numerous occassions where these are above (as with Guitar Pete’s case) ,or below (as with 16 runner handicaps). There is a very simple reason for this, some races favour the punter and some don’t, taking advantage of the races that do should be foremost in any punters mind that is looking to make a profit.
The easiest way to demonstrate this is by looking at the 16 runner handicap (paying four places) and a 15 runner handicap (paying three). If we take an imaginary 16 runner race where all of the runners have an equal chance we can see how the ‘maths’ really do favour the punter. The win chance of each runner in such a race is clearly 15/1, similarly, as they all have an equal chance of finishing in ANY given position, their chance of finishing in the first four is 3/1 (25%), just as it is for finishing 5th -8th, 9th-12th or 13th-16th, all very obvious I’m sure you will agree, but, it is in exactly this scenario that the punter has his greatest ‘edge’ for, as we all know, bookmakers pay 1/4 odds on such races. The place return on a 15/1 chance in such circumstances is 15/4 (3.75/1 or roughly 21%). We are getting 3.75/1 about a GENUINE 3/1 chance. This is the reason that when you look at exchange markets your 16/1 fancy that might be trading at 20.0 in the win market is much more likely to be trading around 4.5 than 5.5 for a place. Compare this to a similar 15 runner handicap. In such circumstances each runner has a 14/1 chance, but, because there are only three places on offer each runner has a 4/1 chance (20%) of finishing in any ‘group’ of three, again, all very obvious, but consider the place terms on offer here of 14/4 (3.5/1 or roughly 22.2%. Instead of 4% (25% – 21%) of value as in the 16 runner race we are acually GIVING UP 2.2% ( 20% – 22.2%) !!
Of course it is possible that 15 runner races can throw up each-way bets, but, these will be reliant on the ‘shape’ of the race . Rare big field hancicaps that throw up a very short priced favourite who takes a disproportionate amount of the place book do happen, but, in general, ‘open’ handicaps (such as those where they bet 5/1 the field) can be seen to offer little in the way of value mathematically.
In general, the closer to the minimum number of runners allowed for those place terms to be in effect, the better it is for punters. Play around with the following scenarios of an 8 runners race compared to an 11 runner race (both paying 1/5th the odds three places) ; a 12 runner handicap and a 15 runner handicap (both paying 1/4 the odds three places and a 16 runner handicap and a 24 runner handicap (both paying 1/4 the odds four places) and you will see that the effect could be the difference between winning and losing long term.
It’s all about ‘getting’ the value, not ‘giving it up’.