I was recently asked about place betting (duh . . . what’s new? you probably just muttered). Fair comment, too.

But place betting has been a subject of many systems and many of my own articles over the years. The problem is the tax, and the fact that ¼ of the win bet with bookmakers is, most of the time, simply not fair.

I have considered many times, the maths associated with this unfairness, and to summarise, the only time it’s even reasonably fair is when there are eight or nine starters. Any more than that, and it isn’t fair to the punter.

OK, that’s out of the way, but what about the place bet as insurance?

Well, I have written many thousand words on that too, and I tend to advocate it if you can get top fluctuation with your bookmaker about horses starting between \$4 and \$21.

Longer than \$21 is a longshot gamble these days. The computer has seen to that. Frankly, these days if you see more than \$21 you probably ought to see \$101 about that horse. The question of value comes into the equation, and if the horse is at \$21 or more, it is probably the horse with the eighth, or ninth, or worse best chance of winning! There will be seven or eight horses in front of it in the opinion of both investors and bookmakers.

With this knowledge in hand, is there a way of using place dividends to make a decent profit? Some years ago a system was being sold under various guises. It involved backing placed horses all-up, and frankly I had my doubts (serious ones at that!) about the results that were offered in the advertisements. These days, computers are too smart, and access to past results is too thorough. It’s all too easy to spot. Try that little fitting-up ploy and you’re exposed very swiftly.

The days of amazing place results are over, if they ever existed. Nowadays the maths experts can manipulate any major tote board within seconds of the jump, so you can’t be Mr Joe Clever. Want to see it in action? Just watch SKY any night and monitor the dog prices on your telly.

Make a note of them, and also note the pools. A dog’s TAB quote can be out of line with the other two quotes until the death, when suddenly it is shorter, or so close to equal, that there is nothing to pick between the three quotes.

I am certainly not recommending TAB betting on dogs! But I AM saying have a look, and be educated. Someone is betting to a very fine margin and making quids. It’s no use to you as a smaller investor.

So what is?

Try this.

However you make your galloping selections, I want you now to consider supporting them by placing multiple place bets equal to the single win bet.

In effect this means you are outlaying TWO units – one for the win and one for the place. The place bet, however, is spread over your NEXT FIVE win selections. (B, C, D, E and F.)

Every win bet will have a place bet split into five lots of 20 per cent.

I see the bet this way. Let’s say you bet \$25 for your win bet. I’m going to assume that the place returns are really poor – say \$1.50 average. Terrible, in fact. They could hardly be worse! That will really test us out.

So you bet 20 per cent of your place unit on AB, another 20 per cent on ABC, another on ABCD, another on ABCDE and a final 20 per cent on ABCDEF.

As soon as one doesn’t place, you are out of it for that bet. But of course you keep what has already been returned.

Six placings in a row (five all-ups) at \$1.50 (i.e. at 2/1 ON the place!), would give you \$57 for just that final 20 per cent, together with the earlier returns of \$38, \$25, \$17 and \$11, a total of around \$150 or 5/1. The equivalent win bet would have needed a win at \$6. That means your first six bets for a place would be all covered by ONE successful multiple bet – A, B, C, D, E and F, with all those later place bets still to go.

So get A, B, C, D, E and F up as short odds-on place bets, and all your place bets are covered, and your win bets may also start to be covered, whether or not any of them win. What’s more, you’ll have a string of place combinations as long as your arm still in progress! And that is where some long term insurance can come in.

This is because you will have AB, ABC, ABCD, ABCDE, ABCDEF all paying, along with BC, BCD, BCDE, BCDEF; and CD, CDE, CDEF; DE, DEF and EF. G will be on its way with no place doubles yet in progress.

At that stage – and at these awful, fabricated odds – you have covered all your place bets and you are chasing any win losses. All returns from the all-up bets that now emanate from A or B or C or D will be in place profit. G running a place will produce divvies for BCDEFG, CDEFG, DEFG, EFG and FG!

And what’s more, G will have five new multis set up, whilst there are still ten other dividends depending on H to place.

I’ll take this further next month, after giving you time to play with it on paper.

By The Optimist

PRACTICAL PUNTING – JUNE 2007