Bart Calendar spent 10 years as a journalist for Gannett covering murder trials and rock and roll.
Since then he has traveled the Earth gambled in the best casinos in the world.
An each way bet allows you as a bettor to cover more bases. Nowhere is that more important than in the world of horse racing where there are multiple potential outcomes to a race. It is less common in the USA than across the pond in the UK and Ireland, so American gamblers may be wondering what is an each way bet?
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Each way betting explained
When you place an each way bet on horse racing, you are making two bets in one on the same slip.
The first bet is for an outright win and pays out at the full fixed odds price quoted.
The second bet is to finish in a place, which will be a fraction of outright win odds.
You gamble double the unit stake placed, so a $5 each way bet costs you $10 in total.
Depending on the type of race and number of runners, place terms vary.
What do we mean by a place? In American horse racing terms, a bet to be placed usually means for a horse to finish first or second in a race. There is also a show bet, which is for a horse to finish first, second, or third. When we hear you ask, what is an each way bet, the answer depends upon how many horses are running in the race.
If there are eight or more runners, then each way betting should cover third place. However, if the race has five, six or seven horses, then this type of wager only pays out on first and second.
What is an each way bet strategy and how can I make it work?
So, what is an each way bet in more detail? Only racehorses quoted with odds over a certain threshold represent each way value. The concept is relative, but the idea of each way betting is to mitigate potential loss and at least try to get your money back if a horse fills a place but fails to win.
In order to do that, you have to know the place terms before betting. In any race where the fraction of outright win price is reduced to a quarter for a place, the minimum odds you should be looking to bet on each way are 5.00 (4/1 in good old fashioned British fractions).
Broadly speaking, sportsbooks will offer place terms of a quarter on handicaps and stakes races with five, six or seven runners. If there are four or fewer horses competing in a race, then each-way betting almost certainly will not be an option available to you.
For stakes races with eight to 14 runners in them, the place terms will include a horse finishing third but only be a fifth of the outright win price. That means that in order to at least break even on the bet, the horse you back, you need minimum odds of 6.00 (5/1).
A winning each way bet can turn a profit without the horse winning. Say you back something at 11.00 with a stake of $5 each way and it finishes second. Although the win part of the bet is lost, you have made profit overall on the place. Regardless of whether it’s a quarter or a fifth, you have either 3.50 (5/2) or 3.00 (2/1) for being second, which is a return of $17.50 ($7.50 profit) or $15 ($5 profit).
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Scenarios in horse racing for each way betting
There are certain races where each way betting represents greater value than just backing a horse to win. Say there is a red-hot favorite for a stakes race. It may go on to win, but its price of doing so is short and less than 2.00 (evens).
You could just back the horse, but you won’t even double your money on the bet. In order to win more on such a horse, you have to stake more. If it doesn’t live up to expectations, then there is no way to mitigate the loss without hedging your bets and taking another punt.
It is always worth looking in such a scenario at which horses from the rest of the field have chances of finishing second or third. The shorter the price of the favorite, then the rules of bookmaking demand that other runners are available at bigger odds.
A horse winning at 1.50 (1/2) versus a horse running into a place at 13.00 (12/1). No matter how big your unit stake, you will generate a greater percentage profit on the latter bet. In races where place terms are a quarter of outright win odds, you are getting 4.00 (3/1) to place. If it’s a fifth, then it’s 3.40 (12/5).
As for big field handicaps, meanwhile, these are usually pretty competitive. The favorite in the field may be 9.00 (8/1) or bigger. This wide-open race scenario is another where each way betting can pay because you should be getting a quarter of those odds 3.00 (2/1) for a place.
What is a saver bet?
Saver bets are closely related to each way betting. These are often placed when you are hedging your bets with an outright win for a favorite and then an each-way wager on another horse at bigger odds.
You are trying to save your stake on the favorite in the event it doesn’t win, but the horse you backed each way runs into a place. In a way, saver bets are a type of hedging and work best on hotly-competitive races – be they stakes or handicaps.
The place money generated by the each way wager should always try to cover or even exceed the amount you have gambled on the other horse. For example, you bet $8 on a 3.75 (11/4) favorite and then $5 each way on a 17.00 (16/1) chance) in a handicap with 10 runners.
Across your win only bet and each way saver, you have gambled $18. Sadly, the favorite finishes third but your saver bet comes in second. The place terms were a quarter (5.00 or 4/1), so you receive a return of $20 on that. You have a small overall profit of $2 across the two bets.
Sure, you haven’t won lots but crucially you didn’t lose money. These small gains can accumulate if you bet regularly on horse racing using a win only and each way saver strategy.
Other horse racing betting strategies that you could benefit from
Each way wagers are just one betting strategy available to you if you like to bet on the horses. The benefits of it are worth recapping before we delve into other approaches. Your chosen horse doesn’t have to win the race for you to turn a profit on the bet, and that means you are reducing the potential for loss.
Win only bets only cover first place. Each way betting extends that to second, third, and – on special occasions with certain races – fourth and fifth place. This is closely tied with knowing how to hedge bets and use matched betting on big field handicaps where extra places can be available.
Going down the each way betting route with tote style multiples like pick 6 horse racing that also increases your chances of winning. Odds accumulate from leg to leg, so if you can find horses at big enough prices to turn a small profit by meeting the place terms on each race, this can be a good second prize to the very tough challenge of picking winners of six consecutive races.
If you like betting on the exchanges, then you can lay horses to lose races as well as backing them for extra places and even try a bit of in play betting horse racing – better known as betting in running. The idea of hedging your bets, meanwhile, is something mentioned in connection with each way betting.
Whatever strategies you use, the key is finding the best horse racing system that works for you. Saver bets and each way betting aren’t going to be to everyone’s tastes. Some bettors prefer to keep things simple, while others have developed tried and tested methods to help them beat the bookies at horse betting websites.
Final thoughts on each way betting
Now you know the answer to what is an each way bet, it is time to bring all the threads of this strategy together. Picking out value each way betting opportunities is something you can only truly judge and spot over time with practice. As noted above, this is a relative concept.
An each way bet that acts a saver is not merely a form of hedging, but extra insurance if you have backed something at a shorter price for a win only. Horse racing is full of thrills and spills. Anything can and invariably does happen.
Each way betting certainly has its place in this sport perhaps like no others. It is wise to try and get more potential outcomes covered in this way, and that is what often separates a casual punter from a smart bettor.