One of the major advantages you have as a punter is choice. The main one is the team you bet on - how you reach to that decision is the most important thing in betting. If you continue to bet on losers, you are going to lose regardless of how many varieties of betting plans you opt to back your selection in.
As you are checking out this website, let's assume you are a sharp cookie and have selected a couple of bookie-ruining bets. You now have to choose how to back your selection. From the minute you approach your bookmaker, be it on-course or in a high-street shop, he will want to influence you on the way you back.
A quick glance around your betting shop will alert you to what they want you to do. First of all, don't be fooled into doing those section bets on the football coupons. There are huge accumulative odds available in picking your own selections, especially if it's your bag and you are optimistic enough to go for a 14 match run-up bet. Those magical odds are there to charm you to include a bet on a match too hard for the bookmakers' highly paid experts to call - it's nothing more than a going-for-the-pot-of-gold tripwire.
If you really have your eye on that magic figure, instead of the tricky football match you should choose a much better-value shot from any sport you fancy, and let it all ride on that. They are trying to steer you into bets they want you to do, but you are the boss in this game. As far as the bets you wager go, you have the bookie by the short and curlies. Don't be lured by slick marketing or, worse still, the flock of muppets that inhabit betting shops.
But back to the horses. Everyone wants the buzz of getting four up in a Yankee or landing an accumulator, and it could be a tad miserable to eliminate the small-stakes, big-win chance by being too holier than thou. But it's possible to upset your bookie by playing him at his own game. Take him on with your choices in potential fortune-winning, life-changing bets - but customised to your own benefit, not his.
For example, when you amble into your local betting shop all enthusiastic, having sorted out four good things for the day, and hand over your Yankee bet, you are making his day. All right, if you didn't think you had picked out four winners, you wouldn't have done that bet - but how chuffed would you be if you only got a double? Unless you had bagged two at big prices, not very.
So why do the doubles? Your Yankee, six doubles, four trebles and an accumulator is 11 bets. If your first selection, heaven forbid, gets beaten, you are down to three doubles and a treble, so a €1 Yankee costing €11 is down to €4-worth of bets in one hit. Then you still only have three doubles, where you need a treble to get all three up anyway; one more goes down, and you've got a €1 double for an initial stake of €11. Is it really a surprise that you are offered double-odds about one winner in a Lucky 15?
To pocket the nice return on a small outlay that you are after, you need to get at least three winners. Why don't you do the four trebles and an accumulator only and save €6, or use that stake to double your bet - or, to really irritate the bookie, have the trebles and accumulator each way?
Each Way is an expression that often sends shivers down the back of the high-street bookmaker. If he had his way, betting each way would never have been an option. The opposite to the on-course guy, the off-course guy can't really decide to bet win only. He would like to, though; back in the days of big, chunky margins being returned from the course, it was great - each way if you liked.
In this day and age, the online exchanges revolution is the largest case of the tail wagging the dog that the racing game has ever seen. Most of the win book margins returned from grasping and inexperienced on-course bookies - who would be lost if they could not hedge on the exchanges, let alone set the market in the first place - are hardly workable. That then relinquishes the place book well and truly unbettable... which is where you move in.
The only saving grace for the off-course guy is that his customers are chiefly the type who play those fixed-odds terminals. So those people are mugs who may get a lucky bet up occasionally, but are not going to win in the long run - ever.
The trouble for the high street guy is that he can't stop the sharp people, like you, from coming in and tucking him up. For those in the know, a skilfully placed each way double on two well-fancied 5/2 shots is a bookmaker's nightmare. Similarly, an each way bet on the second or third favourite in an eight-runner maiden or novice hurdle when the favourite is odds-on is financial disaster for the bookie.
Many of these horses are nailed on for a place, and still only the price they are to win to actually win. That is how close the margins are. So it's a bet to nothing with a small guaranteed profit if the selection gets beaten by the favourite and remains in front of the five no-hopers, and a nice payout plus the places if it wins. The bookie is usually more miffed if it's placed behind the odds-on winner because he's had the double bump, paying out over the jolly and then your place, which has cost him and saved your win stake, too.
On the racecourse, it is an easier but very telling story. If you stroll along the rows of bookmakers when there is a 16-runner handicap, almost to a man they will have the Win Only sign up. But then one entry is withdrawn and the Each Way taken signs are out of the bag and on the joint almost as quick as an Each Way Compulsory sign would be, if they had one.
If each way betting was profitable, you can bet your boots it would be permanently widespread. If a bookie puts up an Each Way sign, he's probably only doing it to accommodate the mugs. Calculated, large big bets and other bookies wanting each way bets are going to be quite briskly rebuffed.
The majority of 16-runner handicaps are bet to win only, exchange-led prices. Because of this, the place margins are poor value for the bookies. So, as they hate giving away their built-in edge, they won't let you bet each way. That's their choice, from a business perspective - and you should treat your bets the same way. If it's bad for them, it's good for you - and you should back accordingly. You should only back when you have the edge.
On-course, you will begin to notice if most of the bookmakers are betting win only. If that is the case, you should head straight to the betting shop. If one or two of the on-course guys are betting each way, you can be fairly sure that he'll be under the odds. If by some chance he isn't, you can assume he's new to the game and do your level best to educate him with hard cash. It won't be long before he has to toe the line or go out of business.
Don't think it's an opportunity to tuck up the Tote and get stuck in on their place markets, however. Bookmakers are practical in the chances of horses being placed. Also, bookies deduct an atrocious amount of money before a dividend is announced. It is hardly good value to bet on the nanny, and is best let alone.
The prime lesson in this instance is that you are the boss - if you are being force-fed bets, they are no good for you. You never see the bet of the day advertised as an each way double in two eight-runner novice hurdles including an odds-on shot in each, so they're the ones to concentrate on. The current position to limit handicaps to 14 is a stark example. While they appear hard to solve, 16-runner handicaps are no good for bookmakers, so must be good for you. Select your bets, and strike when your old adversary is at his most vulnerable.
The worst sequence of events for the punter would be if on-course bookmakers were all forced to bet each way in every race up to their maximum liabilities. That would mark the end of the golden age of punting that's being enjoyed at the moment, because margins would have to nearly double overnight if they were to stay in business. Think about it.
Art Aronson is a tenured bottom-line professional sports handicapper. He is the best ROI handicapper in the business. He is not your typical handicapper.
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