Tote betting has been part and parcel of horse racing in the UK since 1928 and its most popular multi-leg bet to this day is the famous Placepot. The basic idea for most people playing the Placepot is that they want to win big pay-outs for minor stakes. Don’t we all?
This bet is the most popular pool bet of any type. It can be placed on-course, in shops and online for each British race meeting every single day. You can even see the overall pot filling up live on-course or online, along with how many units are left in after each race is run.
The Placepot Explained
The Placepot works by punters picking out a horse or horses in races 1-6 inclusive on the race card in question. Stakes from all participants go into0 the pool and the pool is then divided equally between all winners.
Horses must finish ‘placed’ in each race. The place terms are as standard in racing, i.e., the first three for races featuring 8+ runners etc., though we have more on this later. Units are made up of £1 bets. Should you place a £1 Placepot and win with a dividend of £248.48, then that is the figure you’ve won. At £2, simply double that figure. Multiple lines can also be placed, which we explain more about below.
Placepot dividends differ every single day across all meetings. If lots of people win, usually owing to plenty of favourites being placed, then returns can be as small as £3 or £4. The average, however, is closer to £400, with many £100+ Placepot dividends being seen every week.
The bigger the meeting, the more money that goes in the pot. The more competitive the meeting, the fewer winners there are leading to bigger pay-outs if you should get it right.
Placing Your Bet
To join in with the Placepot pool, simply select your meeting and then pick at least one horse in each of the first six races. More horses can be added to the bet in each leg (race), which then increases the cost of the bet. A straight Placepot featuring one horse in each race looks like this: This would be a dream Placepot. In this example, every race offers three places which makes things a tad easier for punters to stay in the game.
As you can see, the minimum total stake is £0.50. This way (online), you could place a £0.50 Placepot with these six horses. On course, the minimum is often £2 so bear that in mind. In most cases, punters choose multiple horses in each leg. There is nothing worse that your Placepot being ruined when your first or second horse fails to place.
Calculating a Multiple Placepot Bet & Winnings
You can add as many horses as you like to your Placepot bet, though the more horses you add, the more the cost goes up. This is why on the example above you’ll see that you have to place your ‘unit stake’. This unit stake is multiplied accordingly depending on how many runners you include.
You may not be able to choose between two or even three horses in a race and may want to hedge your bets somewhat. If you had 2 horses in each leg and 3 in the last to give yourself a fighting chance, the calculation is simply:
2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 3 = 96 lines
You may then want to decrease your unit stake. At £0.20 per line, your total stake is now £19.20. As well as working out the best ways to attempt to win a Placepot, the main thing to consider always is that growing cost. Very few Placepots are won by simply choosing one horse in each race. Any horse, even a rock-solid favourite, can bomb out for a number of reasons so it’s best to keep yourself covered and stay in contention.
The other good thing about multiple lines is that they don’t just affect then cost of the bet, they affect the pay out too! Let’s say you went for a permutation of 2 x 1 x 1 x 2 x 1 x 2, this is an 8-line bet. At £1 per line, the bet costs £8 in total.
If one horse in leg 1 is placed, one horse in leg 4 and all other horses also place, then you have won 2 lines of the Placepot, i.e., 1 x 1 x 1 x 1 x 1 x 2. At £1 per line, you can double the dividend so that if it pays £71.25, you have won a total of £142.50.
What Constitutes a Place?
Places in the Placepot follow the basic rules of racing. Some bookmakers allow you to take Placepot bets, and they may choose to offer extra places on their site, but that will not count in the Tote Placepot. The places offered in a race tend to depend on the number of runners and the race conditions, i.e., handicap or weight-for-age. This is how it breaks down:
|Number of Runners||Places Offered|
|5-7||1st and 2nd|
|8+ in non-handicaps||1st, 2nd 3rd|
|8-15 in handicaps||1st, 2nd and 3rd|
|16+ in handicaps||1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th|
Non-Runners in Placepot Bets
Should any horse you choose in any leg of your Placepot become a non-runner, then the stake for that unit goes onto the eventual SP favourite. Should there be joint-favourites or even co-favourites, then your stake goes into the market leader with the lowest saddle cloth number. Remember; you can choose the favourite in any leg rather than a specific horse.
Should you already have a bet on the favourite and another horse becomes a non-runner, then you will effectively have more than one unit stake now on the same race favourite. The best part of this rule is that you are never kicked out of a Placepot owing to non-runners. Unlike with a normal bet, your Placepot won’t be cancelled and monies returned if a horse is pulled out.
The Best Placepot Strategies
Much like in any competition in which many people enter and fight for the same pot, there is a balance to be found between the ease of a win and the size of the pay-out. In this case, the more favourites to be placed at a meeting, the smaller the dividend on the Placepot.
The dividend is not decided by SP’s, but simply by how many people bet on each horse. In that sense, favourites and small pay-outs are not mutually exclusive. The likelihood is that a 5/4 favourite will have the most units riding on it, but that is not set in stone.
Avoiding Favourites Where Possible Is Key Don’t force this, however, as simply going for outsiders will mean you won’t be winning. Going for every favourite on the other hand may lead to a win, but likely a very small one.
Picking only one horse in each leg of the Placepot makes your winning chance very vulnerable. On the other hand, the more horses you pick the more you pay. Even going with just 2 horses in each leg is a 64-unit bet. Sticking with £1 units makes this an expensive bet. Going down to 10p or 20p means your potential pay-out is low.
Balance the Cost with Your Winning Chances
So, how do we find the right balance between the cost of the bet and its chance of winning? One way is to concentrate most of your efforts on the middle legs of the Placepot, finding those absolute bankers if you possibly can. You may want to only add a second selection in a couple of legs of the bet. This would keep the units being placed at 4.
Ideally then, you would have your multiple selections in the first and last leg of the Placepot. You want to give yourself the best chance of staying in after one race to keep the fun going, while there is nothing worse than scoring five out of five only to lose in the final leg. Having a second chance in race six then is ideal.
A different way to look at this tactic is to save your multiple selections for the harder races, regardless of where they sit on the race card. If race one has a rock-solid horse and you can’t see it being unplaced, by all means stick with it. If race 3 however is a competitive-looking handicap you may want to double-up at that point.
How to Pick Out the More Solid Place Chances
The first thing to remember when picking out the more solid horses capable of a place is that we don’t need them to win. Winning is ideal when you’re watching the race as there is little anxiety involved, but we get paid the same in an 8-runner race whether our horse is first at the line, or a distant third.
Some horses provide a wide range of what is possible in a given race. If they continue to improve and take to the trip and ground offered, then they may win by miles. On the other hand, if they don’t like conditions on the day, they may take a backward step. Look instead for the horse that, in today’s racing conditions, always seems to run well. Their consistency is what we’re truly looking for. They may not be well handicapped enough to win on a level playing field, but are certain to run their race.
Here’s an example of two horses near the head of the market and why one is a more solid Placepot proposition than the other: This is a race at Kempton Park. In this case, Royal Scandal is carrying 7lbs more than Dignified. She ran to a Racing Post Rating of 83 on debut compared to Dignified’s 76. This makes them pretty much equal on the basic numbers.
Royal Scandal’s rating was achieved at Newcastle on the Tapeta surface which may have suited well. Dignified’s was achieved on today’s track, meaning we know she likes it here. As a winner, it’s almost certain that Royal Scandal will be more popular with Placepot bettors, however the solid option in the conditions is Dignified as we have actual evidence that she handles the conditions.