Backing Horse for Places on The Betting Exchange

Backing Horse for Places on The Betting Exchange by the Officer

Question : When is a 5/1 shot not a 5/1 shot?

Answer: When you are backing it to place.

The whole purpose of this article is to show where the real value lies in modern betting. With the advent of betting exchanges, it is now possible to back a horse to place, or lay a horse not to place. Also we still have the good old bookmakers offering great odds E.W. seriously?

Consider the following odds 1/5, 5/1, 33/1, 33/1, 33/1. 33/1, 33/1, 33/1

Some bookies will still offer a fifth the odds a place 1,2,3 for this race.

Using a place calculator the 5/1 shot is considered to be a 1/5 shot to place.

The bookies will pay out even money on a place that is 1/5th of 5/1. The place calculator assumes the 5/1 shot is really a 7.5/1 shot when bookies percentages are taken into account, therefore using mathematical probability it should win this race 4 times in 33, and place 26 times out of 33, since it should place 4 out of every 5 races. Therefore in 33 races the win portion of the bet loses (33-4) - (4*5) = -9 points, while the place portion of the bet wins 26 - (33 -26) = 19 points Total theoretical profit = +10 points.

In practice the place calculator is an exact representation of the place odds in relation to the win odds, but this is not the case with Odds On shots. They tend to win in proportion to their win odds, or run a stinker and finish unplaced. Horse Racing is not an exact science, but mathematics is. Caution and common sense needs to be exercised here. However, there is no denying that the punter gets the biggest edge with this skewed type of betting show. If you do not believe me then try backing that same horse (win price 5/1) at evens on Betfair for a place. You will find that it will be more likely to be odds on at 1.7 than evens at 2.0.

The big bookies are well aware of the above types of race, which is why you will sometimes only get 1/6 the odds when a FAV starts odds on, for a place.

To place or not to place?

Consider this example with the following odds : 11/10 3/1 6/1 9/1 20/1 25/1 33/1 66/1

Another great betting shape for the EW backer. If the 2nd favourite is a genuine 3/1 shot then it is begging to be backed for a place…………………………or is it? It all depends on the type of race. If it were a handicap I would not be backing it, however if this were a weak maiden I would.

Well it is a weak handicap isn't it? The odds suggest so. However, in reality any of these horses could win, as they should all be of roughly equal ability with the lead in the saddle to balance things out. It is my theory that punters take too much notice of form in these races, and back the horses accordingly. For example, the 66-1 shot could have a much bigger chance than its odds suggest. Imagine an excellent 7-pound claimer is on board, it has been dropped a massive 10 pounds in the handicap, the horse has switched stables and it has been off the track for 400 days. In theory the horse could be 17 pounds well in. The market has taken the long lay off, and the drop in the handicap as major negatives - hence the price. This horse could be a true 66-1 shot, but it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the horse actually is nearer a single figure price chance. We cannot be sure. What I am trying to say therefore, is that handicaps are unpredictable and don't the bookies know it! They will offer all sorts of concessions in these races, tricasts, early odds etc. They want you to back to win and even more so each way.

In handicaps, I am a layer, even in the weak races. I will lay the shorter priced horses not to place, only when I have calculated that the place odds are 20% in my favour. I use a spreadsheet, to calculate the place odds in relation to win odds, taking into account the number of runners.

The system in practice

Derby Day 5/6/2004

15:30 Vodaphone "Dash" Handicap 5f 20 Runners

Prices : 3/1,4/1,12/1,14/1, 3 at 16/1 and 7 at 20/1 and 2 at 25/1 and 2 at 33/1 50/1 60/1

On the face of it this looks a weak to average handicap, 2 very short price horses for a 20- runner field. However, this is a handicap and the remaining 18 horses are not that spread out betting wise, with three at 16/1 and seven at 20/1.

In my view the more runners the more chance of an upset, trouble in running, draw elements taking a hand, etc. In the end I calculated the second favourite to be a 1.95 chance to place on Betfair (bookmaker odds at the time were 9/2). I layed at odds of 1.76, which is 20% less. The starting price was 4/1, real place odds 1.84, which gave me a theoretical 10% edge. I am not unhappy with this situation, because I know from past experience that these types of races are a real cavalry charge and very unpredictable.

1st 20/1, 2nd 25/1 3rd20/1, 4th 16/1

This was in fact an ultra-competitive race. A blanket finish with the 2nd favorite in 6th and the favourite nearly last. Great stuff for layers! If this had been a maiden I would not have played at all, despite the number of runners. With everything at level weights the chance of a shock result are greatly reduced, even with only 3 places.

15:40 Haydock 1m Class C handicap

Prices : 9/2,5/1,5/1,13/2,7/1,8/1,10/1,12/1,33/1,100/1

A fairly competitive race with one absolute outsider. I calculate the favourite at place odds of 2.17 and eventually lay at 1.97 for a 17% edge.

Result 1st 12/1 2nd 33/1 3rd 9/2

I just missed out here, but what another blinding result for the layers.

After commission, a small loss is made over the two bets. I layed two short priced horses, in two unpredictable races (with a bit of hindsight!) to an average theoretical profit margin of 13.5%.

I may have 10 bets on any given day, or maybe none at all. I will only back when I have the percentages well in my favour.

However, a losing run can happen at any time and will happen to any good gambler or bookmaker, and it does not matter what the percentages are if you are not backing winners. You just have to ride it out, backed up by a large betting bank. The winning runs will come along again and wipe out those losses and a bit more.

The worst losses I suffered were when using a place calculator and laying too many horses in the same race. I could not control my losing runs. The answer lies in laying those horses in the right events and then taking on the big money.

Remember that I have not mentioned form at all in this article, or even the name of any horses, I am purely applying mathematical chances against a volatile betting market. When the cash is down, just as in the stock market, a horse's price may plummet too far, before creeping back up to a more realistic betting show. Hopefully I will lay horses at the bottom market prices, before the price trend creeps back up .

Here is a list of rules that I apply to laying short priced horses not to place :

1) Lay in handicaps only.

2) Aim to make a profit of 20% per bet.

3) The more runners to places, the better.

4) Place your bet or bets on before the rush starts.

5) Have a sufficient bank for losers.

6) Be patient! The bets will come.

7) Don't rely on a place calculator!

The ideal race would be a 15-runner handicap with only 3 places, and a couple of horses at say 3/1 joint favourite, although realistically most of my bets would be in races with 8 to 10 runners.

There is no reason why you cannot back all the other runners to place against these short price horses, it is just I prefer to be a layer.

If you wish to make a profit on stakes races, maidens, condition, sellers etc, look at the prices on Betfair, and if you fancy a horse and it is trading way below what the internet bookie is offering each way, then these are the most profitable place bets to be had.

If you lay in races like the real examples above, I feel it is virtually impossible to make a loss in the long run, and you will have a good chance of making a decent profit.

Nothing is written in stone, but generally lay the shorter priced horses in handicaps, and bet the 2nd or 3rd favs in stakes races, when the market is skewed i.e. there is a strong favourite and only a couple of others are single figure odds. I have not revealed exactly how I calculate the "real" place odds, but it is not an exact science anyway. Take up the baton and run with it!!!!!


Reproduced with the permission of Horse Racing and Sports Betting Journal


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