Are you a conservative punter? You probably are (and whether conservative or not, you will be interested not only in this article but in Neale Yardley's feature, Avoid Risk-Win! in this issue). Most punters err on the side of caution.

That's why many of them bet each-way. A lot simply punt for the place. If you bet each-way or for a place, you're a member of one of the largest clubs in the world of racing.

The reason you go each-way is that you want to be sure you'll get something back from your bet. Hitting for the win with everything makes you a bit tense, right? Your reasoning is that while your choice may win, there's always that element of 'luck' in racing and it could also get beaten! Play the horse for a place, you decide, and while the cash return is reduced your chances of collecting a dividend are increased a great deal. The strain on your mind and your pocket is eased.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with this type of thinking. Betting for a place can be considered a sound procedure. But so is betting for a win! The vital question is how much advantage there is, in the long term, in betting to win or betting to place?

How do the advantages stack up against the disadvantages? Do the advantages outweight the disadvantages? These are the questions you must ask yourself-and answer. Only then can you fully comprehend what each mode of betting represents.

Let's take a simple exercise. You decide to back the eight top selections of your favourite tipster for a place only. He winds up with two winners and four other placings. Each placed horse (six of them) pays $1.60. You have, then, invested $8-at $1 place per horse-for a total return of 6 x $1.60 equalling $9.60, for a modest profit of $1.60. Fair enough.

But what about those two winners? One of them paid $4.00 and the other one paid $3.90. Had you bet $1 a win on each tip you would have collected $7.90 for a loss of 10 cents. But what if your tipster had picked another winner at, say, $3.50? Then you would have outlaid $8 for a return of $11.40 and a profit of $3.40.

What this indicates is that six placed horses are usually not going to be worth more than three average winners. Sometimes two average winners will return you more than six or even seven placegetters.

It's very likely that over a longish period of time, if your win strike is even just average, you will find there is little real difference in the return you get from betting for the win as against betting for the place. Although you'll get many more returns betting place only, the dividends will probably only equal or just shade the fewer dividends you would receive for win bets. But if your wins strike rate is high then the returns for win only betting will far outstrip all your place betting.

The divvies speak for themselves: A place divvie at, say, $1.40. To equal a $3.50 winner, you would need more than six place dividends like this, because with each $1 bet for the place, you are winning a mere 40 cents, while with just $1 for the win you have won $2.50. Do you get my drift?

If you are prepared to wait for the winners to arrive, and thus experience the losing runs, you will recoup all the 'missed' place divvies. But if you want to bet for the place, and avoid long losing streaks, you will have money returning to you all the time. In other words, there is less race-by-race risk and unease with place bets. You have the satisfaction of knowing that you are going to be returning to the tote payout window on a regular basis.

Let's look now at a few recent examples: Had you followed the main Melbourne tipster on the Sydney Daily Telegraph's newspaper list at Sandown on April 21, you would have secured six place bets-a total stake of $8 for a return of approximately $9; a profit of just $1. A lot of work for not much return, and yet you struck six place horses.

What if you had gone for a win only? Ah, here you had a different situation completely, because the tipster involved got four winners from his eight selections at 5/2,7/4,9/4 and 6/1. So for $1 win on each of his selections you would have got a return of $16.50.

This means you more than doubled your money You outlaid $8 and you received back $16.50, for a profit of $8.50. This makes the place betting approach look a bit sick, doesn't it?

The Telegraph's second listed tipster got only two horses home in the first three at that meeting, so place punters would have copped the place divvies on a 50/1 shot (say $13.50) and a 9/4 chance (say $1.60), for a profit on 8 bets of $7.10.

But-the two horses the tipster landed were both winners! He had a 50/1 winner and a 9/4 winner, so the punter who threw in $1 a win on each horse collected a total of $51 and $3.25, equalling $54.25, for a total profit of $46.25! Much, much better than the cautious place only punter.

Which brings me to another point: Is it worth betting win and place in escalating
ratio? What I mean is, say, one unit a win and three units a place? Let's say you had a total of 100 bets and you secured 25 winners at 4/1 and a total of 60 placegetters. This means you would receive back $125 for the win bets and $360 for the placers (assuming evens each place bet), a grand total of $485, a profit of some $85 on your total outlay of $400.

But what if you had put $4 a win on each horse? Then your total return would have been $500 for a PROFIT of $100. You missed out on those many place collects but it didn't matter at all, because your win bets more than made up for them. In fact, by placing all your faith in the win, and betting $4 a win each horse, you outlaid $400 on the 100 horses and you ended up with $500, so increasing the profit from $85 to $100.

But you must also contend with the point that you might not have been able to secure even money for the place on those 4/1 bets. These days, with prices for the place very tight, you would have been lucky to have averaged $1.80 each, which would have made your search for a place profit much harder.

On this example, it would seem a fair move to bet in an escalating ratio if you have expectations of a regular flow of winners a Placegetters at value odds and a very wise move if your win expectations are not so optimistic.

If you were able to select only 15 per cent winners at 7/2 each, but were able to hit with 70 per cent placegetters at an average of $1.90, your 1:3 ratio betting over 100 bets would look like this:

PLACE BETS: Stake 300, Return (70 x $1.90 x 3) = $399.
WIN BETS: Stake 100, Return (15 x 4.5    $67.50.
TOTAL RETURN: $466.50. PROFIT. $66.50.
Return (15 x 4.5 x 4) = $262.50.
TOTAL RETURN: $262.50. LOSS: $137.50.

This example shows that a 1:3 approach would have produced a profit but the straight win approach would have foundered badly. It proves that what approach you choose must depend heavily on your expectations: Put it like this:


  1. Few winners, large numbers of placegetters: Bet 1:3.
  2. High win strike, good prices: Bet win only.

So if you are a very good tipster, and you can hit with 25 per cent or more winners, at sound odds (7/2 upwards) and you come up with around 50 per cent or so placegetters, it's probably better you go for win only. But if your win strike is going to be low, and your place strike high, then the escalating ratio is the best approach.

What you also have to remember, of course, with the 1:3 ratio approach is that each winner you strike has its odds reduced as a factor against the total outlay.

This means that let's suppose you have your 1/3 bet and the horse wins at 4/1. Your collect is $5 for the win and, say, $6 for the place, a total of $11. But translated to a price this means you have really backed not a 4/1 winner but a 7/4 winner! You outlaid $4 and you got back $11-and that, my friends, is odds of 7/4.

So there is much to be considered before you throw your hat into the ring one way or the other regarding win or place betting. I would caution against straight place bets, but I would recommend that if you want to go down this road you strongly consider place doubles and possibly trebles.

These will give you some good leverage on your invested dollar. Two placegetters at $1.80 and $1.90 will return you odds of close to 5/2. Three placegetters at $1.90, $2.10 and $1.50 will return you odds of around 5/1. Even three placegetters at just $1.40 each produces an overall price for the treble of 7/4.

If you could hit with, say, six placegetters on a card and link them in place doubles, you would collect with 15 doubles. If the average price was, say, 6/4 (a link of $1.50 and $1.70) you would be looking at collecting $37.50, a handsome profit of well over 100 per cent on your invested dollar.

To link eight horses on a programme in multiple all-up doubles--covering every combination-would cost you $28. You would need 11 doubles at 6/4 to break even, which shouldn't be that difficult.

What I've explained in this article, then, are some views of mine about the merits or otherwise of various win and place approaches. I would like to hear from P.P.M. readers with views of their own, so do drop me a line or two if you wish and maybe we can get another feature article together for later in the year, detailing your insights into the issue.

By Richard Hartley Jnr