Each to his own. Know the old saying? In a way, it sums up betting. Some punters like to bet for a win, others for a place, still others love the quinellas or trifectas, or doubles. It's all a matter of taste.

The bet that everyone has, at some time or other, is an each-way bet. It's the conservative bet, isn't it? You pick out a horse, you reckon it can win, but instead of backing it for $10 to win, you have $5 each-way. Better to be safe than sorry.

It's a natural feeling. Although you strongly fancy your selection you still realise that it can be beaten, and that if it is beaten and it runs a place you want to get some of your money back.

Usually, it doesn't matter the price of a selection, the punter will back it eachway. It also doesn't matter how big the fields are. The punter, in his enthusiasm to have a bet, ignores his actual percentage chances of securing the proper slice of the cake.

There is a case to be made for NOT betting each-way, as much as there is a case TO bet eachway. It depends on many, varying circumstances surrounding each bet. The general line of thinking is that a short-priced favourite is a good bet if you can back it each-way. And, statistically speaking, the odds are on your side, because - as we all should know - the longer the price the less value there is in the return (relative to starting price, that is).

Don Scott, the successful professional punter, put the whole issue of each-way betting most succinctly in his fine book Winning More. He wrote: "In general, we may say that the punter has an advantage over the each-way bookmaker in fields of 8 to 12 runners if he backs eachway horses quoted at 7/1 or shorter for a win.

"The shorter the win price, the greater advantage for a place. Finally, after even money is reached, the bookmaker usually calls a halt and refuses to bet each-way with an odds-on favourite in the race."

Scott points out that the higher the price above 7/1 the better it is for the each-way bookmaker. Ironically, of course, it is those horses at 8 / 1 or longer which are the ones that attract most punters! As Scott puts it: "(They) fall over themselves to take the bad eachway value. By laying these horses eachway for a lot, and the short-priced horses each-way for only a little, and by keeping his prices under the average straightout prices, the each-way bookmaker manages to balance his ledger and finish in front."

Scott's belief is that only the 'stupidity' of the average punter allows the eachway bookie to survive. If punters were to keep backing the even money, 6/4 and 2/1 chances with him each-way, they would soon take his money and drive him out of business.

So Scott's words have a ringing message for punters. Think about them carefully. Back the short-priced horses each-way and you can beat the game. Beat the bookies! Why is this so?

A look at the table of 'value' in regard to prices is a useful and illuminating exercise.

evens 50 1/4 80
2/1 33.33 1/2 66.67
3/1 25 3/4 57.14
4/1 20 1/1 50
5/1 16.67 5/4 44.44
6/1 14.29 6/4 40
7/1 12.50 7/4 36.36
8/1 11.11 2/1 33.33
10/1 9.09 5/2 28.57
16/1 5.88 4/1 20
20/1 4.76 5/1 16.67
50/1 1.96 12.5/1 7.41
100/1 0.99 25/1 3.85

As Scott says, if you could always obtain the best odds each-way about horses that start between evens (1/1) and 7/2, you would never need to study class, form and weights. It would be a sure-fire system, a certain winner!

Let's examine this whole each-way betting thing a bit further. Let's say you're a punter who can pick two winners from 10 bets at, say, 5/1 each, and you can get three other placegetters (all at 4/1). If we work on the basis of $20 win bets, we would outlay $200 on the 10 selections, for a return of $240, a profit of $40.

But what if we had bet all the 10 horses at $10 each-way. Would we be better off? Okay, on the win bets on the 5 / 1 chances, you get back $120. On the place side of things on these two horses you get back $45 ($10 at 5/4 the place for each). So far, you have $165 back.

Now you have a total of $60 coming back from the other three placegetters ($10 at evens the place on each 4/1 horse). hi &~ then, you have got a return on your each-way betting of $225, a profit of $25. In this instance, the win betting has proved more profitable, by $15.

The point is that if you can pick what are known as 'middle range' winners you shouldn't really be backing them each-way. Let's' examine the issue another way, this time through the eyes of a punter backing short-priced horses. Let's say he has a win strike' rate of 40 per cent, and can get 60 per cent placegetters in every 10 bets.

11 Let's assume the four winners were each 2 / 1 and the placegetters were the same price. Betting for a win only, the total return on $20 bets would be $240 - a loss of $20. Betting $10 each-way, you would get back $120 on the winners. You would then have six successful place bets, each returning odds of 1 / 2, so for each $10 bet you would get back $15, for a total return of $90. '

 Your each-way betting, then, has returned $210. Once again each-way betting has proven to be poorer value than simply straight win bets. What if you had only struck three winners and seven placegetters at the same '2/1 prices? In this instance, you would lose $20 if you bet for a win only (bet $200, return $180). Betting $10 each-way, you would get $90 back from the three winners, and then you would have 7 successful place bets each returning $15, for a total of $105.

Your each-way betting, then, has returned $195, for a loss of only $5. This is a much better performance than your straight win bets, which lost $20.

You can see from this that as the prices get shorter, the percentages start to work a little more in your favour on the place side of things. The thing to remember when deciding if you are going to bet. each-way is not to let your expectations get too high.

Some punters may recklessly expect to secure a high win strike rate with short-priced horses. An old pro once told me, though, that if you could get 60 per cent placegetters, at any price, you were doing well.

And is a strike rate of 30 per cent attainable, even by backing short-priced horses? Well, favourites only win around 30 per cent of the time, so maybe that should be you 1 r ultimate yardstick as far as short-priced winners are concerned.

Many pro punters make a betting lifestyle out of backing selected favourites each-way at 2/1 and sometimes shorter (down to evens). This is best done in special races. In his excellent book Commonsense Punting, Roger Dedman wrote of this: "The type of situation where this applies is one in which you think the favourite can win, but there is one logical danger - or at most two other horses which can be given a real chance of winning.

"This most usually occurs in restricted class races at provincial meetings, but occasionally similar situations crop up in the city. The two dangers might be around 4/1, with doublefigure odds available about the rest of the field.. Backing the favourite at 2/1 each-way gives you odds of 2/1 ON the place, when you think it is a near-certainty to run a place.

"Instead of risking $100 straightout at 2 / 1, with a chance of winning $200, the pro might take $400 to $200 each-way. If the horse is beaten, but runs a place. he still loses $100 ($300 return for a $400 outlay) but if it is he makes a profit of $500."

We, can sum up, then' a few rules about each-way betting.

  1. The longer the each-way price, the better it is for the bookmaker.
  2. The shorter the each-way price, the better it is for the punter.
  3. As fields get bigger, the place odds of one-quarter the win odds are more and more in favour of the bookmaker. In a field, say, of 21 runners, when all the chances are equal, fair win odds are 20/1 and fair place odds are 6/1 - not the 5/1 the bookie will offer you.
  4. Bet for a win if your winners are usually at 4/1 or longer. If you want to play safe' it might be wiser to bet two horses for a win in the race, rather than bet each-way.
  5. Be very wary of betting each-way in big, fields.
  6. In general, the punter has an advantage over the each-way bookmaker in fields 'Of eight to 12 runners if he backs each-way horses quoted at 7/1 or shorter for the win. The shorter the win price, the greater the advantage for a place.
  7. Before you bet each-way, do your sums. Work out possible returns on a conservative basis (say 25 per cent wins, 55 per cent place, long term) and get your average winning price established.

Click here to read Part 2.
Click here to read Part 1.

By Richard Hartley Jnr