Straight Bets in Horse Racing

Backing Winners

Horse Racing Straight Bets

In all forms of horse racing, the most commonly placed wagers are called straight bets. These are wagers based on a horse finishing first (win), second (place), or third (show), and these bets can be made in a variety of ways.

At most racebooks, the minimum wager amount on any straight bet is £2. Depending on the book, the maximum straight bet will generally range from £500 to £25,000.

Win Bets

The most popular and simple bets that can be made in horse racing, the punters job is to select the winning horse. The wager is lost if the horse finishes in any other position.

The key to being successful with win bets is value. For example, if the public is too high on a particular horse, they will often bet too heavy on it, bringing the odds below reasonable value. Imagine this exact race under the same, exact circumstances happening 100 times. How many of those races would you expect him to win? If you would expect him to win the race 50 times and come in second or worse 50 times, you must be getting 2.00 or better odds. If the odds are shorter, you shouldn’t bet on him. If the odds are greater than 2.00, then he is offering value.

In big races that attract a high volume of casual punters, the public will often bet on heavy favorites regardless of the odds. When this happens, sharp punters should look for value on other horses instead.

Place Bets

In a place bet, the punter needs to select a horse that will finish in first or second place. The payout is based on the place odds, regardless if the horse comes in first or second.

Show Bets

A show bet is the same as a place bet, except the horse can finish in first, second, or third. The payout is based on the show odds, regardless of which place it finished in.


Win-place bets are the same as a place bet in one way, and different in another. They are the same in that the horse can finish in first or second place to produce a winning bet. However, a win-place bet is actually two wagers (£4 min) instead of one. One bet is on the horse to win, and the other is on the horse to take second.

A place bet pays based on the place odds. However, the win-place bet pays both, the win bet and place bet. For an extra £2, the punter can take home a much better payout if the horse wins the race. These are especially popular in a race where two horses are clearly favoured over the rest of the field.

Win, Place, and Show

A win, place, and show bet (commonly referred to as ‘Across the Board’) is three wagers in one, costing a minimum of £6. If the horse finishes in first, it pays the win, place, and show payouts. If it comes in second, it pays the place and show payouts. If it finishes in third, it pays the show payout.

If the horse you’re selecting is the favourite, it’s often better to place a win-place bet instead. The reason is because a third place finish with a show payout often won’t cover the cost of the wager anyway. So, many punters prefer to spread their wager 50/50 into a win-place bet where the payout will be much better than a bet of 33.3%/33.3%/33.3% on a win, place, and show.

The win, place, and show is better suited for a horse with greater odds, which you think is likely to finish second or third – with an outside chance at the win.

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