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).

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.

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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...