Each-way bets in horse racing explained: places, payoffs, and examples

July 5th, 2024

What is an each-way bet in horse racing? American fans might not be familiar with the term. It’s a common bet in the fixed-odds bookmaking world of the United Kingdom, but pari-mutuel betting in the U.S. lacks a direct equivalent.

What is an each-way bet?

An each-way bet is somewhat like simultaneously betting a horse to win and to place. Suppose you’re interested in betting a 10-1 longshot, but you’re concerned he might settle for second place rather than first. An each-way bet covers both possibilities: if the horse wins, you catch a 10-1 return. If the horse finishes second (or in some cases, third or fourth), you receive a smaller payoff.

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What is the payoff for an each-way bet?

The payoff for an each-way bet depends on many factors: the odds of the horse you’re betting, the amount you bet, and the finishing position of your horse.

Suppose you want to spend $30 betting each way on a 10-1 shot. $15 goes to the win portion of the bet and $15 goes to the place portion. If the terms state the place portion pays out at one-fifth of the win odds (2-1 in this example), and your horse wins, the total payoff will be $210, detailed as follows:

  • The win portion pays $15 times 10 ($150) plus your $15 win investment, totaling $165.
  • The place potion pays $15 times two ($30), plus your $15 place investment, totaling $45.
  • $165 plus $45 is $210.

If your horse finishes second, you’ll receive only the $45 place payoff.

Variabilities in each-way betting terms

The payoff of the place portion of an each-way bet is affected by field size. Typically, place payoffs aren’t awarded on losing runners in races featuring four or fewer horses. When there are five to seven horses in a field, the place portion pays off only if your horse finishes in the top two, usually at one-fourth of the win odds. You’ll receive a payoff for third-place finishes in races with eight or more horses, but perhaps at only one-fifth of the win odds.

RELATED: What are horse racing payouts?

It’s worth noting these terms are only guidelines; they can vary from bookmaker to bookmaker and from race to race. In British handicap races, which comprise a large part of the British racing scene, each-way terms can be different still, with payoffs down to fourth place (at one-fourth the win odds) in particularly large fields.

If you find yourself with an opportunity to place an each-way bet, carefully review the terms of the wager to understand the conditions and prospective payoffs. Good luck!