The A-Z of Each Way Betting
How to (and why to) place each-way bets to make tax-free cash
I’ve worked in the betting industry for a long time, the best part or 30 years.
During this time, one question I’ve been asked time and again is… “tell me, Matthew, should I back this bet to win or each-way”.
Whether it concerns a professional horseracing tip or an expert golf bet from the Golf Insider, regardless of price, or the shape of the market, no matter if we’re winning or losing, the comment is the same.
Should I do this… or should I do that?
And make no mistake, it’s a hugely important consideration when it comes to betting. One which very often defines you as a bettor… because it’s fundamental to every backer’s approach to the process of bet selection and staking, and to their overall success rate and profitability when it comes to making money from wagering on sports.
This is why I wanted to spend a few minutes exploring the subject of each-way betting and the pro’s and con’s of staking your bets in the EW market as opposed to win-only.
First up, a bit of revision… always a good thing!
Remember every day is a school day, especially when it comes to betting and improving your technique/returns.
So how does Each-Way betting work?
Simply put, with an each-way bet you have two separate (but equally staked) bets combined to make one overall investment.
And these two separate parts are a ‘win bet‘ and a ‘place bet‘.
The win bet, as you’d expect, only pays out if the bet actually wins (your horse comes first in the race, your player wins the golf tournament, your team takes the league title etc).
Whereas the each-way part of bet will provide a payout if your player/horse/team comes in a pre-determined range of finishing positions (these are typically the first 3, 4 or 5 places in the race, or on the final leaderboard, or in the season-end league table).
These are known as “EW places”.
So it follows that if your bet wins outright, by definition, you will receive a payout on both parts of your each-way bet (because your bet has come first and it has also finished in the first 3, 4 or 5 places).
But the beauty of each-way betting is that if your player/horse/team doesn’t win, but still finishes well enough to make the EW places, then you’ll get a return from your bookmaker.
In other words, with each-way betting you can still make some cash from a near-miss. For nearly getting the winner, but not quite.
Now as you’d expect… if your bet doesn’t win, and only finishes, say, 3rd, then you don’t win as much money as if it had won. Just as anyone who comes 2nd, or 3rd, or 4th, in a golf tournament doesn’t take home as big a cheque as the winner.
But even if the return (the payout) for the EW places is a fraction of those offered for the win bet – it can still amount to a fair few quid.
Two bets – a “win” bet and a “place” bet – combine to make one EW bet. And while the two bets have the same initial stake, they offer different rates of return, based on different criteria.
This is the essence of an EW bet.
Anyway, enough of the theory. Now a quick look at this kind of betting in operation.
Each-Way betting in practice
Let’s use a simple example from a service like Racing Intelligence…
We want to place £20 on a horse at 10/1, and we want to back it each-way.
What happens if the horse…
(i) wins the race
(ii) comes 2nd or 3rd (not winning, but still making the EW places)
(iii) finishes down the field
Ok, so we know from what we’ve read above that our each-way bet has two, equally staked bets combined into one overall investment.
This means our £20 stake is split into two bets… a £10 “win” bet and a £10 “place” bet. This creates a bet referred to as “£10 each-way”.
[Note: This is true of any EW bet you place. A £5 each-way bet will equal a total stake of £10, just as £10 each-way means a £20 outlay, and so on. You double the amount of the each-way bet to determine your total outlay. Why? Because, remember, this bet is made up of two equal parts – hence you need to double the figure to calculate your overall spend. So, commonly, if somebody talks about having a £50 each-way bet… they are not talking about £25 split on the two options. They mean £50 on both parts of the bet, and so a total stake of £100.]
Ok, so we have our horse at 10/1 and we’ve placed our bet on, for example, a betting exchange like Betfair.
Here’s how those three possible results will play out… and how much money you can expect to collect in return.
(i) if your horse wins the race
In this example, the first part of the bet is easy to calculate. Because your “win” bet is paid out in the usual manner…
The £10 “win” part = £110 payout from your bookie (or return)
That’s easy to understand as it’s 10 x 10 plus your original stake (10), to make 110.
But the other part of your bet – the “place” part – has also won and requires a payout. This is because the EW places cover the first 3, 4, or 5 places … and 1st place is naturally included in this range.
Now as explained above, the terms of the EW places differ from those of the winner. Typically they are either ¼ or ⅕ of the odds (more on this in a moment). Known as the “each-way-terms” or “place terms”.
So if your horse wins the race, the “place” part of your EW bet also merits a payout. And this is the sum to make if the EW terms are ⅕ of the odds…
The £10 “place” part at 2/1 (that’s ⅕ of 10/1) = £30 payout/return
Therefore, if your horse wins the race… you get paid out on both parts of your EW bet and this means a return of £110 for the “win” part and £30 for the “place” part.
That’s a £140 payout/return, minus your initial £20 stake = £120 overall profit
Hopefully that’s clear and easy to understand.
No probem… just ask away. Simply drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
(ii) if your horse doesn’t win, but finishes in the “EW places”
Ok, so you’ve backed a horse, and it runs a decent race. Doesn’t quite win, but it ‘makes the frame’ as they say.
What does this mean in terms of how much money you return..?
Well, as we know, an each-way bet comprises two separate bets (a “win” bet and a “place” bet), and if your horse doesn’t win the race… well, the win part of bet is a loser. Sadly!
So this half of your stake is lost.
But because your horse finished ‘in the money’… the “place” part of your bet is a winner. And it would be settled as I’ve outlined above in (i).
Imagine then that your 10/1 bet has finished 2nd (hard luck!), this the calculation for your £10 each-way bet (total outlay of £20 remember)…
The £10 “win” part = lost, so there’s no return.
The £10 “place” part = winner, so it’s £10 at 2/1 (that’s ⅕ of 10/1) = £30 payout/return
So you’ll get back £30 from your bookmaker, or paid into your Betfair account, minus your initial stake of £20… so you make a £10 overall profit.
With me? Again, any questions, just drop me a line.
(iii) if your horse finishes unplaced / doesn’t make the EW places
Here, as you can imagine, the calculation is simple as the “win” part of your bet, as well as the “place” part, loses.
So from your initial £20 outlay (£10 split on each half of the bet), there is no return.
Not something you want to happen too often!!
But not all EW bets are the same. Here’s why…
Sadly you won’t find that each-way bets are settled the same way right across the board.
Whether it’s a horseracing bet, or a golf wager, or a soccer investment… the EW terms which determine your payout will differ.
There are two main reasons for this which are (i) the number of horses/players/teams in the market and (ii) the lengths to which layers will go to attract your business.
For example, if a horserace has just 2-4 runners, there are no EW bets at all offered on the contest. And you can see why, as any horse in the race is bound to come in the first 4 – so making it mighty hard for the bookmakers to balance their books.
But switch your focus to a 156 player golf tournament, like you see with the Golf Insider, and you can find bookmakers offering you each-way terms for the first 10 places!!
Similarly, most layers will commonly offer you ¼ or ⅕ the odds for a place return… but sometimes you’ll see ½ or ⅓ (again this usually depends on the size of the field).
Now your EW bet will always stay the same, in theory, and it will always be treated and settled in the same way… but because of these variables your payout can change from one sport to another, one market to another.
Horseracing is of course the main betting sport, and here (thankfully) there are some general rules on how the bookmakers will settle your each-way bet.
Here’s the way they treat the various types of races, and number of runners, that you’ll see at any typical race meeting from Aintree to Ascot, from Lingfield to Ludlow…
2 – 4 Runners: Win Only, no EW bets offered.
5 – 7 Runners: ¼ the odds for the first 2 places (1st & 2nd)
8 or more Runners: ⅕ the odds for the first 3 places (1st, 2nd & 3rd)
2 – 4 Runners: Win Only, no EW bets offered.
5 – 7 Runners: ¼ the odds for the first 2 places (1st & 2nd)
8 – 11 Runners: ⅕ the odds for the first 3 places (1st, 2nd & 3rd)
12 – 15 Runners: ¼ the odds for the first 3 places (1st, 2nd & 3rd)
16 or more Runners: ¼ the odds for the first 4 places (1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th)
When it comes to other sports, this is where you’ll see variations. These are usually based on the size of the field involved.
The most common examples you’ll see are… ½ the odds (or sometimes ⅓) for the first 2 or 3 places, ¼ the odds for the first 3 places, ⅕ the odds first 6, 7 or 8 places (most often in golf tournament betting).
What you won’t see is bookmakers offering smaller fractions, like ⅙ the odds. Instead what they’ll do is keep the fractions the same (at either ¼ or ⅕) but simply reduce the size of the win odds.
e.g. instead of seeing 33/1 at ⅙ the odds, you’ll be offered 28/1 at ⅕.
Make sure you check the EW terms before you place a bet as this way you can search out the best value that’s on offer. You can also decide whether you’d prefer to take bigger win odds, or enhanced place terms (a topic for discussion that I’ll save for another day).
But whether your bet is ½ the odds, or a ⅓, or a ¼ , or a ⅕…
The way to work out your return – if your bet wins, or makes the EW places – is exactly the same.
Two separate bets (one “win” and one “place”) combined to make one overall investment.
Each-Way bet calculator
There are a number of useful tools on the net.
Where all you need to do is enter in the various details of your bet – your stake, the odds, the place terms – and they will calculate your returns for you (depending on whether your bet wins, places or loses).
Once such example can be found here – ONLINE EACH-WAY BET CALCULATOR
It’s well worth bookmarking this for use in the future.
Advantages of betting Each-Way
There are sound, well-reasoned mathematical reasons why each-way betting can be the best way to approach certain betting markets.
Factors such as the odds (of course), the each-way terms, number of places offered, and the over-round (or juice) in the market, all being valid considerations.
But instead of going into huge detail about this now – and turning this into a maths lesson! – let me instead highlight three simple advantages, or reasons, why punters might prefer to bet each-way.
(i) to avoid long(er) losing runs – simply put, when backing each-way you stand more chance of landing a winner, or generating a profitable return, because you have more than one bite at the cherry. If your 10/1 bet is in a market that pays out on the first 3, 4 or 5 places… then you have 3, 4 or 5 chances to win. And more chance of winning, equals a greater strike rate, and so shorter losing runs.
(ii) preservation of capital – in consequence to achieving a higher hit rate, it stands to reason that you’ll maintain a more consistent betting bank. You will therefore have a higher percentage of your funds available at any one time to place on other bets, withdraw altogether, or to show to your partner as proof that you’re not actually losing!
(iii) helping to create a better mental state (for the risk averse) – not all backers are “all-or-nothing merchants”, some are more cautious by nature. And that’s fine, betting is a broad church that embraces all-comers. But for those who like the feeling of backing winners, and keeping their betting account ticking over, and not having to suffer the heartache of our notional 10/1 shot getting short-headed on the line and not getting a brass farthing back in return… then each-way betting makes perfect sense, and is an ideal way to win money but on your terms.
The problems with betting each-way
Again, rather than dwell on the theoretical side of things. Here are three good reasons why some backers prefer not to bet each-way (regardless of the odds on offer)…
(i) you’ll make more money betting to win – yes, this can depend on the size of the odds on offer, and the number of bets that would have placed (if backed EW)… but as a rule of thumb, if you back a set number of bets either “win only” or follow all of them “each-way” then you’ll make a higher profit from the win-bet strategy. Of course, you’re strike rate will be lower… but your bank balance will be bigger. So if this is the main driver for your betting, don’t back each-way.
(ii) smaller exposure – as we’ve already seen, an EW bet is two bets not one. So your stake on any bet that you back each-way is twice as big as backing it to win. And a bigger exposure can mean a bigger risk, but it certainly means a greater draw on funds.
(iii) getting your bets on – this is an old chestnut and, sadly, an ever-increasing issue. But, simply put, if betting on the exchanges you’ll see much greater liquidity on the “win” market as opposed to the each-way lists, or betting “place only”. And if punting with conventional firms you can again experience greater problems getting on, or keeping your account unrestricted… and especially with shorter-priced EW bets (so-called “thieving bets” when, for example, you back each-way against an odds-on favourite – BOOKIES DON’T LIKE THIS). So in terms of getting on, and keeping below the radar, win betting is much the better option.
So is it worth betting each-way?
To a large degree it’s all down to your bank size and your own personal risk profile. And generalising…
Big bank + fearless approach = win-only
Limited funds + careful investor = each-way
Now these are the broadest of brushstrokes, but I hope you get the point.
Personally, a lot of my betting is win only, and on horses (especially) that are above the threshold that many consider to be EW territory i.e. over 5/1, and certainly 10/1.
And keeping the discussion on a more theoretical level, rather than getting bogged down in the mathematics of it all, this works for me.
But the point I must stress to anyone who is an advocate of each-way betting, and who religiously sticks to an EW bet whenever the player/horse/team is above a certain price… that’s fine. If it works for you, then great.
Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my nearly 30 years in this business is that there are more ways than one to make your sports betting pay!
OPINION: Taking the words of the billionaire (my favourite type of betting mentor) Sir John Marks Templeton, he said… “for all long-term investors, there is only one objective, maximum total return”. Now this is always an easy thing for the mega-rich to say, but I do take a slight issue with the sentiment of these words. Because they’re really saying “do absolutely anything to make as much money as you can”. But betting is also about enjoyment, and hey, it’s supposed to be fun!! So rather than sweating on every photo-finish when you bet win-only… the occasional EW flutter is no bad thing. Sometimes it’s better to have more than one bite of the cherry.