What is a Bad Each Way Race?
In most instances, bookmakers are more than happy to lay each way bets on all manner of races. There is, however, a certain category of contest where our good friends, the bookies, aren't quite so keen – falling under the imaginative title of “Bad Each Way Races”.
Of course, if something is bad for the bookmakers, it is usually good for the punters. So, what are these Bad Each Way races? And how do they tilt the odds in favour of the bettor?
What Makes a Bad Each Way Race?
The vast majority of Bad Each Way races are those featuring a short-priced favourite and, ideally, 8 or 9 runners. As the favourite takes up so much of the market in these events, all other runners must be pushed out in the betting to create a fair book.
The problem arises as, whilst the win odds may be accurate, the automatically calculated place portion of an each-way bet may underestimate the runner's chances of hitting the frame. The best way to demonstrate this process in action is via an example.
The 2023 edition of the Dewhurst Stakes is a good example of the ideal Bad Each Way race, whereby there is one short-priced favourite, two runners at single-figure odds deemed likely to be placed, and a host of runners at larger prices.
The table below shows the general decimal odds for the contest, followed by the odds for the place part of an each-way bet. (As a non-handicap event with eight runners, these odds are 1/5 of the win odds). The final column shows the Place Only odds available at a leading exchange.
When judging the actual chances of an event occurring, the close to 100% markets of the betting exchange are often the best guide. If the Exchange Place Only odds represent the True Odds, the Placed Prices offered by the bookmaker are bigger than they should be – representing a profitable opportunity for the punter. But how to take advantage?
Profiting from Bad Each Way Races
Of course, all of the above comes with the obvious drawback that, when placing an each-way bet, half of our stake goes on the horse to win. Taking a £10 each way bet on Iberian at odds of 5.0 as an example, the 1.80 place odds may represent great value but will still result in a return of £18 on our £20 investment – unless he happens to lower the colours of the red-hot jolly. There are, however, a few ways in which this theoretical advantage can be translated into actual profit.
Power of Multiples
Sticking with Iberian as an example, those Place Odds of 1.80 are 100% bigger than the 1.40 True Odds implied by the betting exchange. Not enough to secure a profit on its own, but what if we could find three Iberians and place a £10 each way treble?
Provided all three of our value place options do the decent thing and finish in the frame, this would result in a return of £58.32 to a £10 ew treble and a profit of £38.32 on our £20 investment. Using the True odds of 1.40, a £10 treble would return only £27.44. Even using the whole £20 stake for a place-only treble at odds of 1.40 would return £54.88, and also come with the drawback of losing the chance of a bumper payout if all three horses won. Any opportunity to squeeze out more profit than would otherwise be the case benefits the punter in the long run.
Laying Off on The Exchanges
Another method is to use the exchanges to create a free bet on these races. The trick here is to find a horse available to back at very close to the same price with a bookmaker and on a betting exchange. Next, back the horse each way with the bookmaker and lay off to the same stakes on the exchange.
Again, using Iberian as an example, placing a £10 each way bet with the bookmaker at 5.0 and laying a £10 bet at the same price in the exchange win market, and a £10 bet at odds of 1.40 in the exchange place market would create the following scenarios:
- Iberian Wins the Race - Win £50 on the win part of the bet but lose £50 on the exchange lay bet. Win £18 on the place part of the bet, lose £14 on the exchange place lay bet = Overall £4 profit
- Iberian does not win but finishes placed - Lose £10 on the win part of the bet but win £10 on the exchange lay bet. Win £18 on the place part of the bet, lose £14 on the exchange place lay bet = Overall £4 profit
- Iberian Finishes unplaced - Lose £10 on the win part of the bet but win £10 on the exchange lay bet. Lose £10 on the place part of the bet, win £10 on the exchange place lay bet = Break Even
The above is a simplified example but illustrates how the process works to create a no-lose scenario for the punter.
Look out for Extra Place Offers
One final aspect to look out for is when bookmakers offer additional places on races. This most commonly occurs in handicap contests with 16+ runners, where many firms regularly pay out each way on the first six places. However, the standard Place Only Exchange markets only cover the first four in 16+ runner handicaps. By backing with the bookmaker and laying on the exchanges, as outlined above, you will win on both sides of the place bet if the horse finishes fifth or sixth.
Bookies Well Aware of These Races
Whilst it is perfectly legitimate to bet on bad each-way races - whether that be as single bets, multiples, or with the intent of laying off on the exchanges – doing so consistently may well see the bookmaker take action by restricting your stakes, limiting all your bets to Starting Prices, simply refusing your bets or even closing your account.
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