I have a feeling people bet to place, or win and place, because they fear losing some or all of their money on one bet. Two related things then become apparent.

These punters have a betting horizon that is quite short; they are concerned only with this bet and want to recover some of their money even if the horse doesn't actually WIN the race.

They don't understand expectation - their long-term prospects. More than likely they don't keep records of their betting performance, so they wouldn't be able to provide any believable evidence of what their long-term betting performance could be like.

Some simple calculations to illustrate the point. We have two bettors, A who bets to win only, and B who bets place only. Both wish to achieve a 20 per cent POT (profit on turnover), long term.

If you think this is too high, redo the calculations with a lower figure; the picture stays the same.

Punter A bets win only and achieves an average dividend of $3 (SP = 2 / 1). He is very selective, and has a win-strike rate of 40 percent. Therefore:

A: Expected POT = 3 x 0.4-1=0.20 (x 100 to get the 20 per cent POT figure).

Punter B bets place only. To achieve the same POT level as Punter A, he needs to get an average 'dividend and strike rate' (SR), for placing to match the calculation for A.

Let's look at the place bettor's position:

1.10 1.09 0.20
1.20 1.00 0.20
1.30 0.92 0.20
1.40 0.86 0.20
1.50 0.80 0.20
1.60 0.75 0.20
1.70 0.71 0.20
1.80 0.67 0.20
1.90 0.63 0.20
2.00 0.60 0.20

As we can see from this table, the place punter needs to get VERY good strike rates to achieve the same result as the win bettor. And, if he is backing horses that on average place 80 per cent of the time, their average place dividend will probably be less than the required $1.50 from this table. If you're averaging a $1.20 place dividend, you need to get 100 per cent of your place bets home!

Betting some combination of win and place puts your requirements in between these extremes.

Good luck to those who make place betting, or win and place be ting, work. I suggest you try the exercise of going through your past records, and reworking your profit/loss calculations to betting the amount outlaid on each horse to a win only bet - then see what your results look like.

How can people improve their betting? The following are my own suggestions:

  • Keep records: Profit/loss ledgers, and also jot down before and after comments - even if you are not betting (maybe mention why you didn't bet). Continually assess and monitor your performance.
  • Keep learning about handicapping: This should be ongoing - read as much as you can, especially specialist magazines like PPM and American Turf Monthly. Buy books on handicapping and staking and learn from them. Study all you can about money management.
  • Bet win only!
  • Set goals for your betting.
  • Take a long-term view of it. IF you can hit 40 per cent winners (most people would agree that 40 per cent is a fairly high strike-rate), that means 60 from every 100 bets, on average, will LOSE.
  • Specialise, maybe on distance, or on the tracks you bet on.
  • Work on your ATTITUDE (substitute word of preference if desired, but the idea is the same).

** Mike Rollo is a regular contributor to the Ausrace racing discussion group on the Internet, as well as being a keen reader of PPM.

By Mike Rollo - a New Zealand contributor