It doesn’t come much simpler than this one; you want to place a bet on one horse to win in one particular race. This is known as a ‘single’ bet. How you come to choose the horse is a different matter, but for now you need to start with the basics.
Read on to find out how these bets work, and also how you can make your bet ‘each way’ to give you a chance of getting something back even if your horse doesn’t win but comes close…
The easiest way to place a bet on a horse race, and likely the most popular, is to place a single bet to win. To do this you need to know the name (or number) of the horse you want to back, the time of the race, and to help avoid any confusion the name of the racecourse too.
Always get an idea of what the odds are on the horse when you come to place your bet – if betting online then this is easy as the odds are shown next to the horse’s name. If you are in a betting shop then check the screens or ask at the counter. The odds are important as they may dictate whether you are placing your bet just to win or whether you will decide to place an ‘each way’ bet (explained below). They may also dictate how much you want to bet too.
You can read our guide to how to place a bet if you are completely new to betting.
Here’s a quick example of how a single win bet works:
You choose a horse in a race at odds of 3/1 and you want to bet £2 on it to win. You place your bet, the race is run and the horse wins – you will receive £8 back from the bookmaker. This £8 is made up of your original £2 stake being returned plus your £6 winnings (3/1 = 3 x £2 stake; £6).
NB: With a single win bet you will get nothing back if your horse ‘places’ only (e.g. finishes 2nd, or 3rd). Your horse has to win for you to receive a payout.
If you are considering backing a horse with odds of more than 5/1 then it may be worth placing your single bet as an ‘each way’ bet.
The basic principle is the same as the single bet, in that you are choosing one particular horse in one particular race, but it is very different in that an each way bet is actually two bets that get placed together to cover a win bet and a ‘place’ bet (50:50 split of stake). Here’s how it works:
You choose a horse in a race and you see that the odds are 10/1. You decide to bet £2 each way – this bet will cost you £4. The first £2 of your stake goes on the horse to win in exactly the same way as a single win bet. The second £2 goes on the horse to place (finish 1st, 2nd, or 3rd and sometimes 4th). This place bet will only pay out a fraction of the odds if the horse is successful, and this is usually 1/5 of the odds. It’s a bit like an insurance bet to try and get all of your stakes back plus a little bit of profit if your horse fails to win. The race is run and your horse wins. The ‘win’ half of your bet pays out as normal, you get £22 for this which is made up of your £2 stake plus £20 of winnings (10/1 returns 10 x £2 stake = £20). The ‘place’ half of your bet returns £6 on top of this – that is your £2 place stake plus £4 of winnings, so you have won £28 from your £4 stake.
The £4 winnings from the place stake is derived from paying 1/5 of the odds which is 2/1 in our 10/1 example (or 20% of the odds). You would have won £40 if you had just put the £4 on the horse to win, plus your £4 back, but had your horse only finished 2nd or maybe 3rd you would have got nothing back from the ‘win’ bet. In our example here, if your 10/1 horse finished 2nd then you would lose the ‘win’ half of your each way bet, but you would receive £6 back in your hand from the ‘place’ half (£4 winnings plus £2 stake). Not as lovely as when the horse wins, but you get your £4 plus 50% profit with the extra £2 so you beat the bookie and you live to fight another race.
Because of the reduced payout on the place half of an each way bet, it doesn’t usually add up to back a horse each way at odds of less than 5/1. The bet costs you double to place, and if a horse you back each way finished 2nd at odds of 2/1 then you would get back less than what it cost you with the extra stake. Using our example above, but changing the odds to 2/1 instead of 10/1, a place only finish would return £2.80 from your £4 bet. Ok, it’s nice to get something back, but we think the each way should be saved for when the extra stake means you will at least break even with a place, and this usually occurs at odds of 5/1 with profit being delivered at any odds higher than this.
It is also important for you to understand that not all races have the same number of places that count. A race with 4 horses or less will only offer a result is a horse wins. Races with 4 to 7 runners count ‘places’ as 1st or 2nd. 8 or more runners in non handicap races offer 1st, 2nd and 3rd as places. In handicap races if there are 16 runners or more then 4th position will also usually count. Keep an eye out during the big race meetings for offers from bookmakers where they will pay an extra place. A good example is the Grand National, most bookies will pay out to at least 5th position on this race, sometimes 6th, sometimes 7th.