Betting Basics for Horse Racing

Backing Winners

What are the various types of bets that can be made?

Now that you know how the odds are determined and when to bet, you need to know the various types of bets you can make. Win, Place & Show bets are the racing equivalent of straight betting in other sports.

A Win Bet is a bet that the horse you have chosen will win. The odds you see on the tote board are the odds you will receive if your horse comes in first.

A Place Bet is a bet that your horse will finish no worse than second. If the horse you pick finishes either first or second in the race you will win the Place bet. The Place Bet normally pays less than the Win Bet because the entire pool is split between two horses – the horse that won and the horse that finished second.

The Show Bet is a bet that your horse will finish no worse than third. If your horse finishes first, second or third in the race you will win the Show Bet. The Show Bet pool is split between three horses, and normally pays less than the Win or Place Bet on the same horse.

When you bet a horse for an equal amount of money to Win, Place &Show; it is called an Across the Board Bet. Instead of saying, :”Give me $2 to Win, Place & Show on #4

There are also bets known as “exotic wagers.” Exotic wagers are bets on more than one horse in the same bet. The exotic bet is racing’s equivalent of the parlay. The types of exotic wagers offered differ slightly from track to track, and from race to race at some tracks. There are two types of exotic wagers – multiple race exotics and same race exotics. Here are the most common types of exotic wagers:

Multiple Race Exotics

The following bet types are called multiple race exotics because they involve wagering on horses in more than one race.

Daily Double – The daily double got its name from the fact that several decades ago most tracks offered the bet only once per day. Now some tracks offer a daily double that begins on every race except the last. To win the daily double you must pick the winners of two consecutive races designated by the track. It is similar to a parlay bet in sports, except that the daily double has its own separate pool and therefore the payout to winners can be significantly different from a parlay payout.

Pick Threethe Pick Three is the same as the Daily Double except that you must pick the winners of three consecutive races instead of just two. The Pick Three bet is similar to a three horse parlay. Do not confuse the Pick Three with the Triple bet. The Triple bet is a one race bet that we will discuss later.

Pick FourThe same as the Pick Three except that you must pick the winners in four consecutive races. The Pick Four is sometimes called the Twin Double.

Pick SixThe same as the Pick Three and Pick Four except that the Pick Six requires you to pick the winners of six designated races. Pick Six races are not always consecutive. It is sufficiently difficult to pick the winners in six out of six designated races that there are often just one or two winners at the track. Many days no one wins the Pick 6, and the pool gets carried over to the following day.

Tip: It is foolish to ever bet more than $2 on each Pick 6 combination you play because betting more than $2 may not get you anything. Let’s assume that the entire pool of Pick 6 bets after deductions is $100,000. If you are the only winner that day, you will collect the entire $100,000 for your $2 bet on the winning combination. If you had bet $10 on the combination instead of $2 the entire pool would now be $100,006 (the $100,000 already in the Pool with your first $2 bet and the extra $8 you bet to make your bet $10 less the 25% deduction usually taken on the Pick 6.). As you can see, betting $2 got you the $100,000 and betting an extra $8 simply got your own $8 back less the $2 of track deductions on it. By betting an extra $8 you did not win more when you won, rather you cost yourself $2.

Same-Race Exotics

ExactaThe exacta requires you to pick the first and second place finisher in a race in the exact order of their finish. Many people will “box’ an exacta. A two-horse “exacta box” is actually two exacta bets. It is a bet that your two horses will finish in a particular order first and second and then a reverse of that bet with the second exacta putting the first place choice second and the second place choice first. If it costs $2 to make an exacta bet then it will cost $4 to bet the two exactas in a two-horse box. A three-horse exacta box is actually six separate exacta bets with each of the three horses you have chosen being picked for first on top of the other two. If any two of the three horses you have chosen in a three-horse box finish first and second you will win an exacta and get paid. If the minimum bet on each exacta is $2 it will cost you $12 to make the 6 exacta bets represented by a three-horse box. You can box any number of horses. If any two of the horses in your box finish 1st & 2nd in any order, you will win the exacta.

The payout price of every possible exacta combination appears either on the tote board or on TV Screens around the track. Unlike the Win, Place & Show odds, these payout prices are the actual payout for a $2.00 bet if betting were final at that point in time. Do not add your own $2 to the price as you would when calculating with the odeds board. The return of your $2.00 bet is already calculated into the actual payout price you see on the screen.

Tip: When betting an exacta box, be sure every possible combination in your box will pay substantially more than the cost of the box. Remember, you will only win one exacta, and the other money will be lost. If you box horses 1.2 &3, it will cost you $12. If you see that the payout price if the #3 wins and the #1 comes in second is only $11, you will have put $12 through the window as the cost of your box and get back only $11 if the 3-1 exacta comes in. You certainly don’t want to make a bet that will have you losing money even if you win.

When betting a box exacta you tell the clerk the amount of each individual exacta, not the total cost of the box. The computer will calculate the total cost of the box. For example, if you want a three horse box placing $2 on every possible exacta in the combination of horses #1,2, &3, you would say to the clerk, “Give me a $2.00 exacta box on the 1,.2. &3.” The total cost of the box will be $12 because all combinations of horses 1,2, &3 produce six $2 exactas, but you do not ask for a $12 box. If you do then you will get a box which places $12 on each of the six exacta combinations, and the cost to you will be $72.

Quinellathe quinella is a bet that the two horses you pick will finish first or second in any order. It is similar to an exacta bet except that you do not need to pick the first two finishers in the race in the exact order of their finish. You will win the quinella no matter which horse finishes first and which finishes second, but they both must be either first or second.

Tip: If exactas and quinellas are offered in the same race, whenever you would have bet an exacta box you should usually bet the quinella instead. A quinella is actually a 2-horse exacta box combined into a single bet. If you bet a $2 exacta box on two horses the cost will be $4.00. If both horses finish 1st and 2nd in any order you will win an exacta at a cost of $4.00. If you bet the same two horses in a quinella, the same result will have you winning the quinella at a cost of just $2.00. Theoretically, when you bet the quinella, you should win exactly half the amount you would win investing $4.00 in an exacta box. But that is only theory. In fact, most of the time the quinella will pay more than half the exacta price. The reason has to do with public betting tendencies that are beyond the scope of this article, and with the quinella you do not subtract the cost of the losing bets as you do with an exacta box. Thus, if you invested the same $4.00 in a quinella as you would in the exacta box, you will almost always collecting more money at the window if you win.

Triple or trifectaThe names Triple and Trifecta are used interchangeably. Do not confuse the Triple with the Pick Three. The Pick Three is a multiple race bet. The Triple or Trifecta is a one-race bet. The Triple is like the exacta, except that you must pick the first THREE finishers in the race in the exact order of their finish. Once again, a box is actually several triple bets on the same ticket, and will pay if any of the horses on the ticket finish first, second and third in any order.

SuperfectaThe Superfecta requires you to pick the first FOUR finishers in the race in the exact order of their finish.

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