Do All Bookies Offer The Same Number of Places on a Race/Tournament/Event?

The simple answer to this is no, but with a caveat. The number of places paid on any race or event is based on the number of entrants. And whilst the majority of bookmakers will follow a set of industry standards, some choose to offer better terms as an incentive to get you to bet with them, especially for bigger events such as the Grand National.

Determining The Number of Places Paid

Before we go further we should first take a look at how the standard number of places paid on an event is determined and why it changes from bet to bet.

Let’s take horse racing for example, as rule a bookmaker may pay 3 places for a race with 10 horses involved. But, if they were pay 3 places in all races then if you found yourself betting on a race with just 5 horses in paying 3 places, then you’d be sitting at a massive advantage. The flip side of that is that if the race includes 20 horse and paid just 3 places, you be at a disadvantage.

It’s for this reason that you will often see the number of places change quite dramatically between events. But, it also depends on the sport and the betting market in question.

For example, when betting on a market such as the top goalscorer in football you may look to choose a placed bet. Usually these will only include the top 2 places for this type of bet. But, if you think about it, the number of potential winners for that award is massive as each player could theoretically win it.

There are a number of industry standards that most bookies adhere to, which include top 5 for golf tournaments and to make the final (ie: top 2) for most other tournaments, including football and tennis.

For horse racing it’s a little different as the terms are specifically defined as follows:

  • 4 runners or less – winner only
  • 5 to 7 runners – 1st & 2nd, 1/4 odds
  • 8 or more runners – 1st, 2nd & 3rd, 1/5 odds
  • Handicap: 12 to 15 runners – 1st, 2nd & 3rd, 1/4 odds
  • Handicap: 16 or more runners – 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th, 1/4 odds

NB: Horse racing place terms taken from the Tattersalls Committee Rules on Betting.

High Profile Events Mean More Places

The goal for any punter betting on the place or each way market is to find a bookmaker offering the largest number of places that are going to paid out. These wont change much for low key events, but when it comes to larger sporting events you will see that bookmakers often increase these numbers to entice punter through the doors.

The Grand National is probably the best example of this. The size of the race can feature upwards of 30 horses in total, so paying out 3/4 places isn’t going to be all that excitable. Bookmakers will often increase these numbers to 6, 7 or even more than that to offer better value to the punter.

The same sort of thing happens for golf events when the field is usually well in excess of 100 players. Most regular season tournaments will pay out 5 or 6 places, but when it comes to the majors you will often see bookmakers increase this number 7 or even as high as 10 places in total.

Best Bookies For Enhanced Places

For your average day to day place betting most betting sites will follow pretty much the same pattern and so you probably won’t find much in the way of variance, especially when looking at the high street names.

But, as we mentioned above, it’s the bigger events that you’re going to want to do a bit of hunting to see who has the best deal. The same bookies tend to offer the same kind of offers so whilst it’s true that you should compare the number of places on offer, it means that we can predict who’s likely to have the highest number of places based on the event:

  • Grand NationalBetVictor have been running 7 places on the National for the past few years.
  • Horse Racing – For larger meetings (think Cheltenham/Ascot/Goodwood) you may see some enhanced place deals, although it’s less common than for the Grand National. In particular we’ve found the following to offer extra places more than any others: Ladbrokesand BetVictor.
  • GolfSky Bet almost always run enhanced places on the Majors (The Masters, US Open, Open Championship & PGA Championship) offering up to 8 places on The Masters.