Lay for a Place

The Lay for a Place tactic is most commonly used in the last leg of a multi-leg bet in order to lock in a profit.

If you’re still going come the final leg, and you’ve played a banker here, you have options. By calculating the likely dividend, assuming your banker wins (and/or is placed, along with the next two best supported horses, plus the unnamed favourite, if in the placepot), you can establish what you stand to win, and lay your single pick for a place, thus locking in a profit.

[Naturally that assumes the projected dividend is likely to cover your initial outlay, which it won’t always].

Once we know the projected dividend figure, we can insure our position by ‘laying’ – or ‘place laying’ if it’s the last leg of a placepot, quadpot or placepot 7 – our selection. Laying involves playing bookmaker on an exchange site like Betfair, and accepting a bet from someone on the horse we have singled.

This way, we can either cover our initial stake, with a free bet to win the difference between the insurance and the dividend; or we can lock in profit irrespective of whether our banker wins (or is placed) or not.

Let’s look at an example:

Example – PLACEPOT

We’ve reached leg six – the final leg – of the placepot where we’ve banked on Bellorophon, the favourite, in an open looking race. We have two units running on to it, from a total bet stake of £80.

We know that the maximum number of tickets that can claim a share of the placepot dividend are the sum of those on the three most supported horses, plus ‘unnamed favourite’. Checking the tote results page, we see for example that it totals a maximum of 205.7 units.

The gross example pool is £70,696 and the net pool is 73% of that (27% takeout on placepot bets, see deductions page), which is £51,608.08.

So, the minimum dividend is

Net pool / maximum winning tickets

In our example, that’s £51,608 / 205.7, which equals £250.89.

If our horse, Bellorophon, is placed, we’ll have 2x the dividend, which we know to be worth at least £501.78 (2 x £250.89) from our initial outlay of £80, meaning a profit of £421.78.

Now, because we only need our horse to place, we need only lay it on Betfair for a place. The win odds on Bellorophon are around 5/1 (6.0 in decimal), but the place odds are evens (2.0 decimal).

That gives us two options:

1 Lay Bellorophon at 2.0 for £80 in order to retrieve our stake money, with a risk-free chance to win £341.78 (£501.78 – £80 initial stake – £80 losing lay bet), or

2 Guarantee the same profit either way by laying Bellorophon in the place market for a larger stake. If we lay him for £250 at 2.0, and he places we will win £501.78 placepot dividend – £80 initial stake – £250 losing lay = £171.78. And if he fails to place, we will win £250 winning lay – £80 placepot bet = £170

Hopefully that makes sense. Once you’ve been through the process a couple of times, you’ll be perfectly clear.

We have a dividend calculator here to help you do the maths.


Important note

One thing to keep in mind when place laying as insurance for a placepot/quadpot/placepot7 is the non-runner count. Betfair place market rules specify the number of places at the creation of the market. They do NOT amend the number of places when non-runners are declared. Here’s why this is important.

Say we’ve banked on the favourite in an eight horse race, and an hour before the race one of the horses in the race is scratched, making it a seven horse race.

Now, for placepot purposes, there will be two places: those are the place terms for seven horse races. But on Betfair, there are still three places in the ‘Top 3 Finish’ market. This raises the ugly spectre of the banker finishing third, a scenario that would see the placepot sunk AND the place lay paid out. Nasty business indeed. So try to make your ‘place lay’ as close to the off as possible.

In the – thankfully ultra rare – case that the place terms change after your bet is underway (for example, when a horse fails to go into the starting gate reducing the number of places), there’s little you can do except sit and suffer, I’m afraid.