What is smart betting for one may not be for another. It all depends on why you play the game. If you play for fun, or just for the action, or entertainment with “disposable income,” if such a thing exists, then it really doesn’t matter. If you play to win and to beat the game, then it matters as much as anything. You will have to make smart bets. Not all bets are smart.
Personally, I have never understood or been a fan of a place bet. Many people are. I cannot even recall the last place bet I have made, and there may be only two or three of them if that in my wagering career to date.
First and foremost, I handicap who I think will win a race, not come second, and I structure my plays around that opinion. Second place is the first loser. That said, there are ways of structuring bets, whereas if your horse runs second, you can win more or be in a position to win more than a place bet will yield.
Like I said, it all comes down to why you are playing. If you want to beat the game, and I have, then I do not see how you do it without minimizing poor yielding return wagers. You have to be willing to cash fewer tickets but see a larger profit on the ones you do.
Place payoffs are generally not very high. This is especially true if you are playing shorter price horses for second. Longshots pay better obviously, but not as much as you can get with a price horse running second, you played “smarter.”
Now I usually bet one way and go for the kill. If I am right, I get paid, and if wrong, I don’t mind living to fight another day. I stubbornly won’t reverse exactas, and rarely hedge even if alive to big money in the last leg of a multi-race bet. I don’t bet against my opinion except in very rare instances.
When I feel I have to cover a horse in the second slot, and this is a rarity for me and my style and approach, a place bet doesn’t even enter my mind. First off, the horse has to be a decent price, or I won’t worry about it. If the price is high enough, I don’t want to pass up the horse hitting the board I approach it like this.
I will play the horse as I normally would. As opposed to place, I will put the horse in the second slot of exactas, a very rare reverse for me with the horses I think can beat it on top. So, if I am using #2 for second and I think the #’s 4,5, and 6 can possibly beat it, I’ll play 4,5,6 over the 2. As opposed to a $20 place bet, I can take those for say $6 a piece. More often than not, especially if you are using a decent priced horse, the $6 or even $8 exacta will yield more than the $20 place bet. In the long run of this marathon, I think you come out better this way.
It all comes down to grasping the fact you have to be willing to lose a bet to reap your biggest rewards. Reaping your biggest returns on your investments is key to beating the game. Playing to place is almost like playing just to minimize your losses or just stay in the churn. I do not think anyone wins that way.
A good example of this might be on Saturday. I think Ollie’s Candy is sitting on a good race in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn. I don’t love her from a crowded rail, at least not yet, but I think she is live and will get somewhat overlooked. It is also a large field which helps. I’d never consider betting her to place. What I will likely do is use her in multi-race wagers. I’ll also key her in both slots of the exacta, all three slots of the triple, and probably all 4 slots in the superfecta. If she wins, I can hit it all. If she loses a place bet doesn’t entice me, but the exacta, triple, or superfecta just might.
My style is not for everybody. It works for me, though. We all should do what works for us in this game. You can use the many helpful features on AmWager to help figure out what works for you, and you can learn more about my wagering strategies at Tracking Trips.
Enjoy the races, everyone. Stay healthy and safe!