Place Bet – Complete Guide to the Place Bet

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The place bet is one of the most popular markets to bet on, especially for sports such as horse racing, where it’s only beaten by the outright winner market. Even though it’s an easy bet, becoming a consistent winner from the place bet requires a lot of skill. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how the bet works, variations of the market, and the strategies you need to make your wager more profitable.

What is a Place Bet?

A place bet is where your selection needs to finish either 1st or 2nd. The top two spots in the race/event are known as a “place” in the US, but it’s worth noting that in other countries, the place can include the top three or even more spots, depending on the number of different runners.

The bet type is most popular with horse racing, and it’s here where we’ll dedicate the majority of this guide. It makes up part of three major bets for the sport:

  • Outright winner
  • Place
  • Show

The outright winner is where you bet on the horse first past the post. The place, as stated, is a horse to finish in either 1st or 2nd, and the show is an extension of this, which includes the first three positions in any order.

It’ll depend on the number of runners in the race as to how many of these markets form. Generally, for races of six or fewer horses, only the outright winner and place will be accessible. Races with seven or more will include the show bet as well. It’s worth noting that there’s no fixed criteria for this, and it can vary depending on the racebook.

This will also change based upon the sport on which you’re betting. For example, you can bet on golf using series of place bets that can include anywhere from five to 20 places. Again, this works similarly with the returns from these popular types of bets being the same regardless of the final position.

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Place Bet Example for Horse Racing

The best way to explain how a place bet works is to work through an example of these types of wagers.

Place bet options at Racebook.

You can see all the different bets on horse racing you can make on this race, but for this example, we want the place bet.

For each horse, there’s a selection of bets to choose from. You can see the Win, Place, Show, and Across the Board bet here. For the Place bet, just click on the “Place” button.

We’ve picked Sheza Fine Justice to place 1st or 2nd in this race. You can see that the odds for the win are priced at 5/2, but for the place bet, this is a parimutuel betting market, meaning that bets are pooled with a dividend at the end.

Our wager is $10, and you can see the “Bet” button at the bottom of the page. Once the race has run, the racebook will state the pool payout per dividend. This will be the amount of money you win based on the amount of money in the pool and the number of winners. The more winners there are, the less you get paid.

In this instance you can clearly see the basic horse odds for the win bet in this example, but these odds are a guide and are referred to as the morning line (ML). Most racebooks and horse racing betting sites will keep these up to date, so it should give you a rough idea of returns, but you won’t get exact returns until the money has been counted once the race is complete.

How to Make a Place Bet Online

In this section, we’ll look at a working example of how to make a place bet. We’ve used our top-rated racebook, BetOnline, to highlight the process, but regardless of which site you use, the process will be similar.

1. Head to the racebook

BetOnline homepage.

You start by entering the sportsbook’s ‘racebook’. This is a different section than the main sportsbook and a dedicated horse race betting site. Click on the “Join Now” button at the bottom of the page to get started.

2. Create an account

Follow the process to create your account. You’ll need to enter your name, address, zip code, phone number, and email address, among other things, to get set up.

Sign up screen.

3. Log in and deposit

Once the account has been verified, log in and head to the cashier. Here, you’ll have the deposit options available to you. Pick one and make a deposit.

Deposit options at BetOnline.

4. Use the racebook

BetOnline racebook.

The main racebook is where you’ll see an overview of the races that are upcoming that day. You can use the menu section to filter between races or just the “Upcoming races” tab to see the races of the day.

5. Make a place bet

Making a place bet.

On each racecard will be the Straight wagers of the “Win/Place/Show” market you must select. Here, you can see the option to select the “Place” bet, which includes 1st and 2nd place. Click on the “Place” tab to add it to the bet slip. Once there, enter your stake and confirm your horse racing bet.

Types of Place Bets

We know now that the place bet is relatively straightforward. You need your selection to finish with first or second for the wager to win. With bets in horse racing using the pari-mutuel system the US, this is fixed to the first two positions, but it can vary based on different sports outside horse tracks and the location you’re betting in.

In this section, we’ve included a couple of examples of place bets that differ slightly from what we would consider a “traditional” place bet. We’ve also added ways in which the place bet can be worked into other bets as well.

Each Way Bet

Each way betting is more commonly used in the UK for horse racing events, but there are still sportsbooks in the US who have access to this market. The bet is split into two parts: the win and then the place bet.

It’s made on a single horse. So, you place an each way bet where half of your total stake is on the horse to win, and the other half is on the horse to place.

Terms are a little different for the place bet in that the number of places paid is based on the number of runners in the race and the type of race (flat, National Hunt, etc.). The more runners there are, the more places are paid. Odds are also known before the start of the race. The place bet is a percentage of the win odds, and again, this can vary based on the race and the racebook.

For example, let’s assume we’re betting on a horse who is priced at 10/1 for an each way bet. We want to bet $10 each way, so our total stake is $20, with $10 on the win and $10 on the place.

The place terms are set at 1/5 starting odds and paying three places. As a result, we have $10 on the horse to win at 10/1, and $10 on the horse to place at 2/1 (a fifth of win odds).

If the horse wins, we scoop both pots. If the horse finishes 2nd or 3rd, we win the placepot. If the horse finishes fourth or worse, we lose both bets.

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Show Bet

The show bet is an extension of the place bet, but instead of paying out the top two places, it pays out the top three places. The odds, as a result, will be shorter than a place bet as it covers more ways to win.

Just like a place, the show bet will pay out the same regardless of where the horse finishes. For example, you get the same money if the horse were to win the race as you would if it finished 3rd.

What’s the Difference Between a Place and an Exacta Bet?

One of the most common questions we see is people asking what the difference between a place and an exacta bet is.

The place bet is where you get paid as long as the horse finishes 1st or 2nd in the race in any order. Regardless of the order, this bet will pay the same if they win or come 2nd.

An exacta bet is where you need to choose two horses to finish 1st and 2nd, in the correct order. You must have the correct horses in the right order for the bet to win, and as a result, it is a lot more difficult to predict, although the odds will be much longer.

There are variations of the exacta bet that allow bettors to choose two horses to finish either 1st or 2nd, such as box and key bets. But the place bet will only require you to pick one horse over both positions.

Looking for sharp exacta odds? Sign up at BetNow.

Other Sports That Use a Place Bet

For the most part, we’ve talked about the place bet and how it works with horse racing. It’s the most popular sport for this bet but there are other sports where you can use the place bet. Check out what we’ve outlined below.

Golf

Golf is probably the next cab off the rank for the place bet in terms of popularity. The place bet picks players to finish within a certain range of positions. Unlike horse racing, it’s usually groups of five, 10, and 20 places that are paid.

Golf place bet.

The example above is from an upcoming DP World Tour event, and you can see how the odds change for each player based on the number of places paid. If we look at Matt Fitzpatrick as an example, we’ve got odds of +188 for the top five, -125 for the top 10, and -225 for the top 20.

The terms are the same, and if we were betting on Fitzpatrick for any of these places, it wouldn’t matter if he won the event or finished fifth, the payout would be the same.

Soccer

Another sport popular in the place bets market is betting on soccer this way. This generally leans more toward using futures markets, such as betting on teams to finish the league within a certain number of positions, but the concept is the same.

Soccer place bet.

In the example image above we’ve got a market that includes teams to finish in the top four positions in the Premier League come the end of the season. This has historically been significant as these are automatic spots for Champions League qualifications.

Like a standard place bet, if you were to bet on any of these teams, they’d need to finish within the top four spots in any order.

There are no extra returns if a team were to win the league or finish higher than the next. Most offshore betting sites will extend this to the top six, top 10, and bottom three, respectively.

Cycling

While cycling might not be the most popular sport to bet on, it’s got an intense following of fans, and major races such as the Tour de France command a decent market share for sportsbooks.

Place bets can range here, with bets that cover different classifications as well as overall finishes of both races, and overall leaderboards. An interesting addition to this has been betting on individual riders to finish within a set number of places.

The example image above shows whether Edward Theuns will finish in the top three positions for one of the stages. It’s a yes or no market, but the bones of the bet are still the same as you’re betting on him to finish either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in the race, with the same payout for each, resulting in a place bet.

Place Bet Betting Strategy

Like all bet types, to be successful, you need to have a solid betting strategy here. Place betting is no different, and in this section of the guide, we highlight areas you can approach in order to make your bets more profitable.

We’ve included strategies across multiple sports here, but for the most part, unless otherwise stated, they’ll be for the market’s prominent sport, horse racing.

1. Finding the Right Profile

Most races require bettors to pick the winner. In place betting it’s not too dissimilar. But we need to take advantage of the fact that the horse doesn’t have to win, it just needs to be competitive.

An easy area to start is that of the form guide, and seeing horses that have recently fared well, but may have just missed the number one spot past the finish line. They aren’t always going to be favorites for the race, but they’re going to show well.

horse racing place bet example

The example above is taken from an upcoming race at Newcastle, UK. As you can see from the betting lines, the race is very competitive, and it’ll be hard to choose a winner from the field. These are six of 14 horses in the race, with the largest odds at 33/1, so the field has a chance here.

Let’s look closer at Tafsir, who is priced at 9/1. His form guide reads 231121. He’s arguably the most consistent horse in the field, but granted, he is taking a small step up in class, which is why he’s not quite a favorite.

In his last six races, he’s only finished outside of the place positions once and has three wins in that time. When we talk about finding the right profile, this would be a perfect fit. We aren’t necessarily opposing the favorite, but we’re saying that Tafsir has a chance to win, and a great chance to finish in the top two.

2. Hedging Bets

When you Hedge a bet, it’s where you place multiple wagers to either lock in a profit or limit losses. It’s one of the most common and popular betting strategies there is, and it works great with place betting.

For this strategy, we’re using the place bet as cover. Let’s assume we find a horse we think has a great chance of winning, but there’s one or two in the field that could run it close.

We want to keep the win bet on the main horse but cover the other two horses with smaller place bets. This works best when betting on the favorite with the place picks at longer odds, but it can still be profitable if working in reverse.

Let’s look at an example taken from a race in Carlisle, UK. Three horses have caught our eye: Precedent, Turbo Command, and Bulls Aye. Precedent is the favorite and the horse that we think will win the race, but the other two are strong contenders.

We stake $100 on Precedent at 7/2, then two smaller place bets on Turbo Command and Bulls Aye, just in case they run really well. At this point, we’ll still make a nice return on a Precedent win, but at worst, break even if he loses if one or both of the other two places.

The downside to this is that you limit the profit on the win market, so this should only be used in scenarios where there’s a possibility of your pick getting beaten on the day.

3. Don’t be Afraid of Short-Priced Favorites

Most people look at place bets to get value from long-priced horses, and there’s method to that reasoning. Bettors are looking for value for money, which means large returns for smaller investments.

However, by overlooking short-priced favorites, you’re leaving money on the table. Granted, it’s going to take you longer to make a certain amount of profit, but you’re going to be a substantially more successful bettor in the long run, thus winning more over time.

So, what is a short-price favorite?

It’s all relative, but any horse, even-money or odds-on, is what we’d consider “short-priced.” Now, taking on these horses to a place is not a get-rich-quick scheme. You need to be patient, and you need to be consistent.

What you find is that when these horses do lose, it’s usually pretty close. Odds-on favorites win 59% of races on the flat and come in the top two around 70% of the time.

It’s not a case of betting on every even-money or odds-on horse to place, but certainly don’t discount them. Many professional horse racing bettors target these bets almost exclusively and win little and often. It massively lowers the variance on what is one of the highest-variance sports to bet on in the industry.

4. Utilize Parlay Bets

Place bets work really well with parlay bets in tandem. The lower odds and lower risk mean you can stack up multiple picks to create strong parlay bets using this market alone.

You don’t need to get too creative here, and this is another reason why you can include short-priced favorites for place bets. As you add in more picks, the odds rise, but at the same time, don’t go crazy.

5. Golf  – How to Choose a Player to Place

Golf is the next cab off the rank regarding the place bet and popularity. You’ve generally got three options for the place, and this is the top five, top 10, and top 20 places.

There are three key areas that we look for when it comes to picking a golfer to place:

  • Strokes gained – Strokes gained starts are where you need to start; to do so, you need to know the type of player the course will suit. Longer courses are for the bombers (check SG Driving, SG Total Driving Distance) and shorter courses for the workers (check SG Tee to Green, SG Putting). Match the character of the course to the relevant stats.
  • Form – Player form is huge in golf, and you’re looking at players who have consistently been in the top 20 across their previous 10 events. You can go further than this, but no shorter. They don’t need to have won, but they need to consistently be making cuts and playing well at the weekend.
  • What’s on the line? – Work out why the golfer might need to play well that week. Do they need to make points to keep their card? Are they trying to get into Ryder Cup positions? Are they trying to qualify for a major? Do they have to get a result to make the Fed Ex Playoffs? Generally, when golfers have the most at stake, they perform the best.

The best thing about place betting for golf is that the odds can be much higher than most sports, given the larger fields and bigger prices for outsiders.

We’ve used this example previously, so let’s look again at the DP World Tour event table. If we use Matt Wallace as our pick, we know that in his last top finishes, he’s ended up T20, T16, 2nd, and T21. He’s playing well.

At 6,800 yards, the course is one of the smallest on tour, so we know that approach play and short game will be key. Wallace currently ranks 23rd on tour in approach, and 17th in scrambling (around the green). Tick and tick.

Wallace’s Official World Golf Ranking is 106th right now. He needs to be back in the top 50 to make the majors next season, and maintain a top 100 spot to be exempt on both the PGA Tour, and the DP World Tour. This means he can pick and choose events without the need for qualifying, or sponsor exemption.

To surmise, Wallace would be a great place bet here for all three categories. He’s got a good chance of a top five, and an excellent chance of a top 20, showing value even at odds of +105. Tick the boxes and find the value.

How to Calculate Place Bet Odds

How do you calculate place bet odds? The short answer to this is that you can’t, since place bets are parimutuel betting markets. This means you bet into a pool where you’re awarded a dividend based on the number of winners, the amount of money in the pool, and how much a bettor has staked.

Once the race has finished, and all bets have been counted, the racebook will create a dividend for the place bet. For example, the image above shows the result of a race at Belterra Park where Sheza Fine Justice has won, and Beeblegee has come 2nd.

Under the place market, you can see that Sheza Fine Justice has $2.40 for the place, and Beeblegee has $2.80. This is the amount you get back for every $1 wagered.

Therefore, if you’ve bet $100 on one of these, you get $240 or $280 back, respectively.

There’s a way you can roughly estimate how much you’ll get back though. Most place markets pay around a third of the starting price odds. So if you’ve got a horse that is 10/1 to win, the place will be around 7/2.

Please note that this is a very rough guide, and it will depend on the size of the race as to how much has been wagered, and then the dividend paid out from there.

Dead Heat Rules for a Place Bet

When two or more results in a dead heat, the terms of the place bet change somewhat. It’s designed like this so the sportsbook isn’t paying out full price for what could possibly be multiple results within the place positions.

If a dead heat occurs, the sportsbook will divide the initial stake by the number of tied winners.

For example, if you’ve bet on a golfer to finish in the top five places, and they finish in a tie for 5th with two other golfers, this means there are essentially three players tied in total. The bettor’s stake would be divided by three and then applied to the original odds like this:

  • Initial bet: $100
  • Initial place odds: +500
  • Initial returns assuming no ties: $600
  • Number of places paid: 5
  • Number of players tied for 5th: 3
  • Dead heat adjusted stake: $100 / 3 = $33.33
  • Adjusted payout: $199.98

It’s worth noting that if your pick finishes solo 4th, they’ll be paid the full place odds. The dead heat is only applied to tied positions outside the initial number of places paid.

Other Horse Racing Betting Markets

The place bet is one of the most popular betting markets for horse racing. In this section, we’ve listed an overview of other betting markets you can use instead of the place bet.

  • Win – Betting on the outright winner of the race is known as a win bet.
  • Place – Bet on a horse to finish in the top two positions.
  • Show – Bet on a horse to finish in the top three positions.
  • Across the board – A combination of win, place, and show bets on a single horse. You wager on each bet and receive payouts accordingly based on the finishing position.
  • Exacta – Pick two horses to finish 1st and 2nd in the correct order.
  • Quinella – Pick two horses to finish 1st and 2nd in any order.
  • Trifecta – Pick three horses to finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the correct order.
  • Superfecta Pick three horses to finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd in any order.
  • Pick 3/4/5/6 – Pick the winner of a consecutive number of races from a single meeting.

Looking for place bets for international racing events? Head to BetOnline.

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FAQs

What is a place bet in horse racing?

How does a place bet work?

What’s the difference between a place bet and a win bet?

How are place bet odds determined?

Can I place a bet on more than one horse to place in a single race?

What happens if the horse I bet on to place wins the race?

Do place bets have lower payouts compared to win bets?

Can I place a bet on a horse to both win and place?

What’s an “each way” bet in horse racing?

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Resources

Jonathan Askew
Sports Betting and Casino Expert
Jonathan Askew
Sports Betting and Casino Expert

Jonathan is a freelance writer working with Techopedia. He has been working within the gambling sector for over 15 years and has been fortunate enough to work with brands that include Gambling.com, CheekyPunter.com, BasketballInsiders.com and Betfair. He specializes in US and UK-based sports and casino content for Techopedia.