How To Win The Placepot

How to Bet (and Win) The Placepot


Winning The Placepot

Winning the placepot bet is a great feeling. Not only does the average placepot dividend amount to over £500, and frequently go into the thousands, but the feeling it produces when you 'have' it is incredible.

And in that feeling when you 'have' it is one of the biggest drawbacks of betting this kind of wager. I'll explain what I mean in a moment, but for now, let's quickly recap what the placepot is and how it works.

What is a Placepot?

A placepot is a pool bet operated by the tote, where the player is required to select a placed horse in six consecutive races (usually the first six on the card at any given meeting).

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Place positions vary depending on number of runners and type of races, but typically we're trying to get a horse to finish first, second or third in each of the six races.

As I say, this is a pool bet, which means all of the money wagered is placed into a central betting pool, from which a deduction is made (28%) to cover admin but mostly to put money back into the sport.

The remaining 72% of money in the pool is divided equally between the number of winning players. So, for instance, suppose the pool of money was £100,000, and there were 72 winning tickets.

The dividend (always declared to a £1 unit stake, though players can play multiples of as little as 5p) would be calculated as follows:

£100,000 - 28% /72 (because of the 28% deduction and the fact that we have 72 winners in this example).

In other words, £100,000 - £28,000 / 72 = £72,000 / 72 = £1,000

So the dividend in this case is £1,000. Make sense so far? Good!

Now of course you might only 'have' 20p of it, or you might have £12 of it, depending on how you staked your bet.

Alternatively, you might very well have none of it, depending on how you picked horses in your bet! 😉

So that's what a placepot is: a six leg place wager where you get back a return based on how many of your fellow placepot wagerers also correctly selected six placed horses.

How to pick your horses in a placepot

This is one of two places I think a lot of people make mistakes when betting the placepot. Sometimes people - and I've been guilty of this many times myself - try to be too 'cute' in their selections.

They might put in the long odds on favourite, and also a 16/1 who they quite like, just in case.

There's nothing wrong with that per se, but... it is clear that there is far more likelihood of the 2/5 favourite placing than the 16/1 chance. So it must be equally clear that both horses ought to be 'weighted' differently in the bet. That people don't do this is almost certainly THE most common mistake in placepot (and jackpot and scoop6 and exacta and tricast) betting. More on that in a moment.

So, back to how to pick horses for a placepot. Obviously, we're picking horses that we need to place. This may mean that we actually select horses differently from the one we might pick to win the race.

Many horses have form figures like '4011816'. In other words, they either win or run nowhere if things don't go their way. If I was playing a jackpot (I never do, though I love the US Pick 3, a more achievable mini-jackpot), I'd definitely have this horse in the mix.

But in a placepot, I'd think twice, because he's as likely to finish nowhere as he is to place, and there may be more reliable place wagers.

A good example of this is in the 1.15 race at Cheltenham today (12th November 2010), where Theatrical Moment has form figures of 44116P-

He has two wins to his name, but they were sandwiched in between a number of unplaced performances. (Clearly, there is a lot more to the selection process than that, but these horses take an inappropriate amount of the pool money quite frequently).

The other problem with contrarian views - or trying to beat the odds on favourite out of the frame - is that generally you'll be wrong. But you don't want to miss out on the relatively rare occasions that you're right! So, what to do?

Well, Steven Crist in his excellent book 'Exotic Betting', has a solution to this problem. [Exotic bets are what these type of wagers are referred to in the US, and they take FAR more of the money bet than straight win, and place bets.]

Crist suggests you break the horses down in each race, according to how likely you think they are to get the required placing. He talks of dividing them into four categories:

A - horses you feel have a very high chance of being placed
B - horses you feel have a reasonable chance of being placed, and who represent value (i.e. who might be 'dark' horses)
C - horses who might just enjoy a revival today based on some element (course, distance, going, jockey, etc) coming in its favour, and who represent value (i.e. who might be 'dark' horses)
X - horses who either have no chance, or are terrible value to place at their expected odds, or on whom you have no strong opinion

As you can see, these gradings take into account two elements: your ability to read a race (reflected in terms of what you like) and the market's relative ability to read a race (reflected in terms of where you see value horses, or under-priced horses)

By breaking each race down like this, you might end up with a chart as per the below. (This example assumes six nine-horse races).

------ A                     B                            C                             X

1   3,4                                                  1,8                    2,5,6,7,9

2   1                        4,6                                               2,3,5,7,8,9

3  2,3                     9                            5,7                    1,4,6,8

4  1,3,6,7                                              2                      4,5,8,9

5   8,9                                                                          1,2,3,4,5,6,7

6   6                      4,7                                                   1,2,3,5,8,9

How to bet your horses in a placepot

The good news is we've managed to discard many of the runners in most of the races. The bad news is that if we tried to perm all the runners in our A, B and C lists, we'd still end up with 4 x 3 x 5 x 5 x 2 x 3 = 1800 lines.

Even if we did just 10p per line, that comes to £180 and, more worryingly still, we'd need some luck to get big priced horses hit all place positions in one, and possibly two races at least in order to get back more than the £180 we'd invested.

But, by weighting our opinions according to our perception of the likelihood of those horses making the frame, we can bet the horses in a commensurately weighted fashion.

In other words, if we can't get at least four of our A horses in the frame, we don't really deserve to win the bet, because we don't have a strong enough and / or smart enough opinion of the sextet of contests that form the placepot that day. Besides, getting four out of six on the placepot is easy, right?! 😉

So, if we accept that we should have at least four of our A-team selections come in, then we can write out multiple tickets where we'll collect if any of the following scenarios occur:

- A in all six races
- A in five races, and a B or C in the other
- A in four races, and B in the other two

This gives us lines that look like this, from our example above:

AAAAAA             2x1x2x4x2x1 = 32 bets
ABAAAA             2x2x2x4x2x1 = 64 bets
AABAAA            2x1x1x4x2x1 = 16 bets
AAAAAB            2x1x2x4x2x2 = 64 bets
CAAAAA            2x1x2x4x2x1 = 32 bets
AACAAA            2x1x2x4x2x1 = 32 bets
AAACAA            2x1x2x1x2x1 = 8 bets
ABBAAA            2x2x1x4x2x1 = 32 bets
ABAAAB            2x2x2x4x2x2 = 128 bets
AABAAB           2x1x1x4x2x2 = 32 bets

So we now have ten different placepot perms we're going to strike, and we could stake them differently as well. In this case, for simplicity, we won't bother to do that.

The total number of lines comes down to just 440, or less than a quarter of the initial number of plays for 'full coverage'.

We have lots of chances to win and, because it's a placepot bet where we can get more than one horse placed, we still have lots of chances to double - or even triple - up.

So, our previous 1800 x 10p bet, which would cost us £180, can now be re-struck at a cost of just £44 (440 x 10p), or we could 'go large' and play 40p lines for £176 - still four quid cheaper than the initial permutation.

In order to exemplify this further, I am (stupidly) going to attempt this on today's Cheltenham placepot... Drum roll...

------A ------------------------  B--------------------  C----------------------  X

1- 4,6,9-------------------  3,10--------------------------------------  1,2,5,7,8,11,12

2- 2------------------------  1,4 -----------------------------------------  3,5,6,7,8

3-  1-----------------------  4,7 -------------------  2,6-----------------  3,5,8,9,11,12

4- 1,5------------------------------------------------------------------  2,3,4,6,7,8,9,10

5-  11,12,17,21----------  9,18------------------------------------------  THE REST

6-  7,8--------------------  3,6-----------------------------------------  1,2,4,5,9,10

Again, we have to get four A's at least for a score. Just eight tickets this time, as follows:

AAAAAA  3 x 1 x 1 x 2 x 4 x 2 = 48 bets
AABAAA  3 x 1 x 2 x 2 x 4 x 2 = 96 bets
AAAAAB  3 x 1 x 1 x 2 x 4 x 2 = 48 bets
CAAAAA  2 x 1 x 1 x 2 x 4 x 2 = 32 bets
ACAAAA  3 x 2 x 1 x 2 x 4 x 2 = 96 bets
AACAAA  3 x 1 x 2 x 2 x 4 x 2 = 96 bets
AAAACA  3 x 1 x 1 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 24 bets
AABAAB  3 x 1 x 2 x 2 x 4 x 2 = 96 bets

The total is simply perming all A, B and C selections would be a whopping 5 x 3 x 5 x 2 x 6 x 4 = 3,600 lines. Even for ten pence a line, that's a scarcely affordable £360 which is a lot of money to recoup even if you 'have' the placepot at the end of the day.

Granted it is still not the most affordable of placepot bets even with the 'four A's' rule in play. But at least we've managed to massage that figure down to a more palatable (and affordable) 536 lines which, at the aforementioned 10p a turn, is £53.60. That's just under 15% of our full coverage, and we have very good chances of getting through at least the second and last races.

Initially, I played one each in the B and C slots in the cross country race, but it's VERY hard to envisage both Garde Champetre and Sizing Australia being out of the first three. So I've used that as the banker play in the ticket.

I have placed these bets this afternoon, so we'll see how it goes!

Cheltenham Placepot

The eight tickets for my Cheltenham Placepot

And that, dear reader, is how to play the placepot. 🙂


p.s. if you have any clever ways of whittling the number of perms down, do please leave a comment...

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29 replies
  1. John
    John says:

    Very explicit explanation Mat but would it be possible to tell/show an example a complete novice how to fill in a form? 😉

    Best of luck this afternoon

    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi John

      A placepot ticket is very similar to a lottery ticket, and there’s an image of one here:

      You simply colour in the little line next to the number(s) you fancy in each race. For a bet like mine above, you’d use multiple tickets. In the Cheltenham example today, I’ve used eight separate tickets, which took about ten minutes to sort out on the totesport website.

      Hope that adds at least a little clarity for you.


  2. Jay
    Jay says:

    When I have very little time to study form I usually abide by this simple system.

    The following rules for trying to crack the ‘Placepot’ are as follows:

    1. Look at SP forecasts on the Racing Post website,
    2. The two races with the shortest priced favourites are your races with one pick (i.e. banker races),
    3. The two races with the biggest number of runners take the first 3 in the betting as your picks,
    4. The remaining two races use the first 2 in the betting forecast,
    5. 1x1x2x2x3x3= 36 lines.
    This is a non scientific way but does come up trumps frequently.

    Also to help with coming to a decision and possibly narrowing down the number of lines bet you can also look at the tipsters box in the Racing Post for your chosen meeting.

    1. Use each horse that has been tipped 4 times or more in each race.
    2. If two horses are tipped 4 times or more use both horses for that race.
    3. If the twelve tipsters are split and three horses are tipped 4 times each use all 3 (but this is as rare as hen’s teeth!).
    5. If in any race no horses are tipped 4 times drop the criteria to 3 tips.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Jay

      Thanks for that. It’s certainly a shortcut system for placepots, and the two reservations I have are as follows:

      1. equal weight is placed on all selections in the bet, as opposed to putting more emphasis on horses you fancy more (although I appreciate that by using the forecasts only, it may be that you have no fancies!)

      2. by using all of the horses at the top end of the market, when you catch the placepot, it is possible / likely that it may not pay much more – or even may pay less – than your original stake.

      For me at least, the point of the placepot is to try to strike a balance between what is likely to happen, but also sufficiently differentiate my bet from others in the pool by using longer priced horses strategically and sparingly together with the stronger fancies on the card.

      Hope that makes sense.

    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Anthony

      The trick of course (as I failed to achieve today) is to NOT follow the crowd. That is, if the Sporting Life puts up selections, they’re the ones to try to avoid (where possible, though not for the sake of it).

      My A selection in the first, Noun De La Thinte, finished fourth, and I had no B’s in there, which meant I needed all A’s thereafter. Alas for me, my A in the third, Safari Journey also finished fourth, beaten by my B selection, Daves Dream. So no dice today.

      Cue Card was hugely impressive and I’ve had as much of the 20’s (£73) as Stan James would allow. They’re 16’s now…


  3. Dave Proc
    Dave Proc says:

    I use a home made system using SP Favourites. I perm any 4 favs = 15 bets with 3 horses in each of the remaining 2 races ( ususally 2nd,3rd, 4th favs ) This gives 9 options per line, thus 15 bets with 9 options per line = 135 lines in total, at 10p= £13.50 total stake.
    Only thing is, at 10 p, each line only costs £0.90, under the minimum, so I either up my stake to 20p = £1.80 , or make one race 4 instead of 3, which gives 4 x 3 = 12 @ 10p = £1.20 per bet x a15 lines =
    If you have any stats on placed favs and races to avoid/concentrate on , that would help to reduce the bet , it would be helpful. If there is one fav that looks “nailed on ” for a place, then I take this as a BANKER on all bets and then take any 3 favs from the remaining 5 races, making 10 bets instead of 15.


    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Tricasts CAN be a great bet, if played right and if the race shapes up for them. I’ll write a post about these another day. Basically, the key to getting these right is to treat the ‘win’ part as a separate ‘race’ from the place part. That is, there might be horses that you wouldn’t really consider to win, but you might think could finish third at a big price. Again, there’s no sense in loading all combinations with the same weight…


  4. John
    John says:

    Your most recent comment re results has made my head hurt. I thought you had the 3rd in first so I have completely misunderstood the process 😉 maybe i should just stick to the basics

    Good luck

    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi John

      I did have Knowhere in the first race, but he was a ‘C’ selection not an ‘A’. As I needed at least four A’s and two B’s, or five A’s and a C, that meant I was alive only on the lines with all A’s after the first race, i.e. the CAAAAA line.

      I had Cue Card as an A in the next – good.

      But in the third race, my only A selection, Safari Journey, was 4th. (And my B pick, Daves Dream won it, though alas no good for me…)

      That’s probably confused things still further!!! 😉


  5. Jay
    Jay says:

    I know my so called system did concentrate on the shorter priced horses in the field but it is amazing how you can make a regular profit on the placepot, especially if you choose the second or third best meeting of the day as bigger prices can be found on the 2nd & 3rd favs in a race. I’ve often had £60 upwards return on 36 lines @ 50p = £18 stake. It is an easy, quick way to get your choices and handy for beginners to get the hang of the ‘placepot’.

    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Good for you Jay! 🙂

      To clarify, I wasn’t doing down your system. Rather, I was just making a differentiation between ours. Best of luck with it.


  6. Karl
    Karl says:

    Cheer Matt, I didn’t follow your method, but it got me back interested in doing the placepot again, staked four lines x 50p and Made £43.40 from 2 lines that won.

    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Well done Karl, you did a lot better than me!

      Actually, when the placepot pays a smaller amount, the way I play it means generally I won’t win. The idea behind the strategy outlined in today’s post is that one should be rewarded relatively whether the pot is small or large. But if you’re a klutz like me and put 16/1 shots in the A hole (as it were!), then these things will happen.

      The strategy is, I am convinced, excellent. My execution today left something to be desired…


  7. Niall
    Niall says:

    Hi Jay

    I am very interested in the simplicity of your system…just wondering what you do when one of the shortest priced runners is also in one of the two races with the biggest fields?

    Many Thanks,


  8. broggsy
    broggsy says:

    Dave, many years ago I used to perm 5 or six selections to win the tote trio very regularly (until they changed the format which then made it quite costly to perm).I used to just bet one on friday and one on saturday in the big handicaps.I regularly made more than my wage.
    I had one rule for my first three selections.
    1st would be top weight
    2nd would be bottom weight
    3rd would be favourite

    the other two or three would consist of one that I fancied at decent odds and then the others would be random high priced horses towards the bottom of the weights.

    My maximum perm would be £6 …. 60 x10p stakes

    maybe Matt could fine tune this for you to win tricasts.

    be lucky…..broggsy

  9. John Weston
    John Weston says:

    Hi Matt,

    Congratulations -you have produced an excellent report with this, I really hope it works for you.

    I know you are a progressive thinker and you know you are taking the right steps, always remember however good the solution it can always be improved on and keep your mind focused on this fact.

    Well done!


    John Weston

  10. broggsy
    broggsy says:

    go on then I’ll re-live my past.

    just done one for the paddy power

    Your bets (1)

    60 lines at £0.10 per line
    Total stake for this bet: £6.00
    Time: 13/11/10 12:49
    Receipt No: P/141058619/0003021


    fingers crossed

  11. Andy
    Andy says:

    Doing placepots where you’ll never ever win isn’t progessive thinking. If that’s progress I might as well join the Labour Party. Let’s all bet when the book is rounded to 250% and just hope for the best.

    Fingers and toes crossed. Your country needs you.

    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Andy

      Not sure what on earth you’re going on about but in case it’s a reference to the ‘takeout’, then think about this:

      – Bookmakers overround on most races is between 8 and 20%, depending race type / number of runners, etc.
      – Tote takeout on placepot is 28% spread over six races. In other words, 4.67% per race.

      After that deduction, which is less than most people pay Betfair in commission on winning bets, it is the player vs the other players vs the horses

      Frankly, comments like ‘let’s all bet when the book is rounded to 250% and just hope for the best’ are a) lazy, and b) prove unequivocally that you didn’t actually READ the post! (or at best didn’t understand it)


  12. Andy
    Andy says:

    – Bookmakers overround on most races is between 8 and 20%, depending race type / number of runners, etc.

    Correct. And the Tote’s take goes from 25% up to around 300% per race. (which for any serious horse racing player would be a definite signal of where and when to bet)

    – Tote takeout on placepot is 28% spread over six races. In other words, 4.67% per race.

    Incorrect. Splitting the overround into individual races using a simple divider is juvenile betting logic. If their take on the pool was 28% that WOULD NOT mean that they were making 4.67% per race. This is a pool bet. The mathematics are completely different.

    If you think their cut is only 4.67% per race why bother with Betfair? No commission and smaller margins than any bookmaker, anywhere. Even Ladbrokes work to 9-10% across the board. And you’re trying to say that the Tote, even in multiple, 6 race, pool bets, offer better value?

    You’re saying that betting on the Tote, in placepot bets, offers better value than placing single bets anywhere else. Is that what you’re saying? And on top of that you want to stick all of that value into 6 race roll-ups. And you still think you’ve got an edge?

    (or at best didn’t understand it)

    Correct again. Your betting logic is, at best, terrifying. I didn’t understand it.

    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:


      Sorry about this, but I don’t think you’re following me very closely here.

      The tote takes 13.5% from the win pool, the lowest of any major racing jurisdiction, as per their press release here:

      “The Tote has today announced hugely reduced deductions in its Win and Place pools, which equate to giving around £4m a year back to its pool betting customers. The deduction from the Place pool is reduced by a quarter from 24% to 18% and the deduction from the Win pool is more than 15% lower, moving from 16% to 13.5%, making it the lowest Win pool deduction of any major racing nation in the world. The new rates apply from this Thursday, 20th March to coincide with the start of the new turf flat season.”

      Quite where you got 25% to 300% (!!!) is beyond me.

      Regarding pool bets and six leg bets, obviously nobody is saying that winning the placepot is easy. I’m merely highlighting the relative value of the wager based on the bookie deductions and single race tote deductions, which you’ve helped to illustrate by encouraging me to add further detail.

      You tell me in the above comment that 28% spread out over six races would not amount to 4.67% per race, because “the mathematics are completely different”. You also helpfully point out (ahem) that my “betting logic is, at best, terrifying”, which is presumably intended as a rather crude paraphrasing of my previous reply.

      Perhaps you’d do me, and the other readers of this thread, the courtesy of illustrating the ‘completely different’ maths involved in calculating the relative deductions in a pool-based inter-race bet like the placepot, as I readily concede to falling short of ’emeritus professor in applied mathematics’ status.

      To be honest though, unless you can come up with something a bit more palpable and a bit less barbed, I shouldn’t bother as I’ll not furnish you with the courtesy of any further reply to your empty rhetoric.


      p.s. in summary, if you want to say a post is crap which is basically what you did, fair enough. But do all of us the common decency of at least providing some sort of empirical support for your observation, there’s a good chap.

  13. broggsy
    broggsy says:

    well said Matt !
    I doubt if Andy has ever played the placepot.
    I’ll always remember my first single line placepot win of £208 prob 20years ago now.What a feeling!
    hooked on the bet ever since.won loads..only way is to do perms with small stakes though.Its better to win little and often than once a year (if at all) with the single line approach.

    DAVE YEATES says:

    There’s another downside. I won the Placepot today at Warwick 1x1x2x2x3x2 @ £2 per line. If only I’d done the Jackpot! I had the winner of every race, as well as two seconds. So Instead of £1000 (Jackpot paid £500) I won £160 less £48 stake which is a frustratingly small reward for getting the winner in every race!

    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Dave

      That is a bummer, and of course it’s one of the problems with the placepot. For me it’s rarely going to happen that way as I look to play a fair few outsiders, but that’s the way I play it. Generally I don’t win the placepot, but when I do… it’s beer o’clock!

      Still, even with the bet above, a winner’s a winner.


  15. Andy
    Andy says:

    You’ve made it obvious that it’s pointless to try and explain to you why a 28% overound on a single pool bet doesn’t mean the same thing as 4.67% overound per race. Just bet the Tote all the time if it makes you happy and they’ll grab your 28% on every single bet. You’re placing a single bet remember, on the placepot, so splitting the races up and quoting that as “overround” is an entirely different thing.

    You should maybe go to Vegas. The slots there only take 9% out of every pound so you’d be well happy that it took an extra few hours before you were skint.


  16. zen
    zen says:

    Good reply Andy,

    I’m perfectly clear exactly where you stand, just not sure why…..

    Matt, please don’t ever make this a forum, one thing is for certain, whether you hate the placepot,love the placepot, play it all the time or don’t understand where to begin, Matt for no payment, no affiliate fee, no charge, took time out of his day to write an article for everyone to read and ponder.

    For that I for one am thankful.

    Now you have to send me a cheque for £60 becasue I tried your way today Matt and it failed… 😉

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