Horse racing has long been the best sport for sports gamblers. The entire horse racing experience is centered around placing a wager and has been for over 100 years.
Despite its long history, horse racing does suffer from one consistent problem for players old or new. To put it simply, it’s a very complicated wagering system. Well, maybe not complicated as much as intimidating.
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Gamblers who have been playing the ponies for years have no idea what some wagers on the board even mean and, if you’ve ever laid eyes on a racing form, you know it to be true.
Not to worry though, as that’s why we were here.
Let’s have a good, in-depth look at all of your horse race betting options so the next time you step up to the window, you can do so with the confidence you need to make it a successful day at the races.
This is the most common wager used in this sport. It comprises of the ‘win’ and ‘place’ part all rolled into one. Since both sections of the bet take up equal value, you can end up successful only if the two predictions come out as expected. It is often considered that this system is effectively placing two bets on one horse. One portion of the stake is used to back a win while the other half is used to back a place.
Let’s start simple with the most straightforward wager you can make on a horse race – a Win.
A Win bet is just like any other Moneyline wager in any other sport. You just have to pick who will win the race outright. If the horse wins, you will collect on your wager. The odds you will see listed for each horse are their Win odds.
For example, if a horse shows ‘3’, if you bet him to Win for $2, you will get back $8 or 3 times $2, plus your original $2 bet. This $8 payoff for a $2 bet is shown in the result payoffs under the Win column for the horse when the race is official.
Just as with the Win bet, the Place wager is a bet that a horse will finish in first or second.
The odds here are not as good as with the Win wager as the horse can win the wager with two outcomes. If the horse does finish in one of the top two spots, you will collect the amount shown in the Place column for that horse on the result payoffs for each $2 you have bet.
It is important to remember with horse racing odds that if you make a Place bet, it will not matter if the horse wins or comes in second, you will collect the same amount with either outcome.
This bet has less risk than a Win bet, but also a smaller reward. If you are confident a horse will win the race outright, you will receive a larger return betting the horse to Win than to Place. However, if you need a little insurance, the Place wager is the right call.
Finally, we have the Show bet which is when you want to wager that a horse will finish in the top 3 positions of the race. A $2 bet on a horse to Show, you will collect the amount shown in the Show column for that horse on the results payouts.
Again, just as with a Place wager, if the horse finishes first or second, you will not win any more money than if the horse finishes third. Since this is the safest of all the straight wagers, it also offers the smallest return of all the straight wagers.
Depending on your confidence on your horse, the Show wager provides a good fallback for a horse you are expecting to do well.
Combo Straight Wagers Across the Board (Win/Place/Show)
The “across the board” wager is a fine example of your ability to place any wager you can think of while at the track.
This wager is the combination of the Win, Place, and Show wagers. So, when you wager on a horse “across the board,” you’re in effect betting on him to Win, Place, and Show giving you several opportunities for a payout.
For example, if the horse was to win, you would collect on all three bets of your wagers.
If the horse finishes 2nd, you would receive the Place and Show payouts. Then, if the horse comes in 3rd, you collect the Show bet only.
At the end of the day, this is actually 3 bets combined which is why a $2 bet “across the board” will cost $6.
There are shorter forms of the “across the board” wager, too. Of course, there are. When it comes to horse racing odds these wagers are just two bet combinations of either Win/Place and Place/Show, respectively and a $2 bet will they cost you $4.
Single Race Exotics
When it comes to playing the “exotics” in horse racing, the Exacta wager is one of the simplest by far.
The Exacta is simply the combination of picking the winning horse as well as the second-place horse, in the correct order. This is a strong wager as it will pay out more than, say, wagering on either of the horses to win or place.
Similar to the Exacta, this wager does not require you to predict the order of the top two horses.
Simply put, the bettor only has to pick the horses which will finish in the top two places, but does not have to predict which of those two will actually win the race.
Since this is easier to predict than an Exacta, it also pays less than the Exacta or boxing. Many racebooks do not even carry this option as most players prefer to simply box the wager and get the same effect. However, it is quite often an option.
The Trifecta is just like an Exacta, but for the top 3 positions in a race.
It requires the bettor to pick the horses, in order, that finish in the top 3. It is much harder to predict than an Exacta, and therefore, pays out much more for a winner. Boxing a Trifecta wager is also available and a very popular option.
Finally, we have the most difficult of all the single race exotics.
The Superfecta wager requires the bettor to predict the first four finishers, in the correct order. If you thought hitting a Trifecta was difficult, predicting a Superfecta is even tougher will always require the bettor to take different combinations of horses so that there are more chances of winning.
The payoff for a Superfecta is rightfully very high and can be a huge payday if you hit it straight. Boxing is also available for the Superfecta and a very popular option as the payouts for such challenging horse racing odds can huge.
Multiple Race Exotics
Finally, there are the Multiple Race Exotics to consider. These wagers allow bettors to pick horse across two or more races. These types of wagers are set by the racebooks so it will vary from track to track, online site to online site. Furthermore, these are substantially more lucrative than other types.
This betting system is widely prevalent in the opening two and closing two races in a particular day. Some racetracks even offer the option were two consecutive races can be picked throughout the day. You have to predict the winning horses in consecutive races. For example, the Pick 2 is the Daily Double which requires a bettor to pick the winners of two races in a row. There are also a Pick 3, Pick 4, and so on.
The Daily Double Wheel is an interesting form of this betting system where you have to pick a key horse among the two races. Then, all betting combinations from the second race are applied while the starting price is determined by the total horses that are about to run.
This is a bet on 3 ponies to come out successful in three successive races. You may also come across Pick 4, Pick 5, and Pick 6. All these work in the same manner as you need to pick out winners in consecutive races. The entire stake is lost if just one of the three horses does not make it to the first place. However, there will be a payout if the chosen horse does not compete. Many tracks do offer the option of Rolling Pick 3 bets, which allow picking three successive races of any choice.
This is an extremely hard market since your horses need to win three successive races. It is advisable to go with a smaller stake to reduce the risk. You can end up with a $16 bill by just going with a $1 Pick 4 where two horses are used in each race.
This can only be described as a lottery since your horses need to emerge successful in six consecutive races. Yet, huge payouts are common in this type of bet, which is often compared to a home run. Since it is rather expensive to play, this market is best for experienced bettors. A $2 Pick 6 can end up costing the bettor around $16 in total.
Boxing and Wheeling
“Boxing” a wager or “to box” a wager in horse racing is used quite often although it isn’t a wager in itself.
When playing any single race exotic, you are trying to pick the correct order the horses will finish, such as with an Exacta. If you were to “box” your Exacta, you are essentially picking more horses than requested by the bet. For example, if you have the 3 and the 7 horse in an Exacta. The 3 needs to Win and the 7 needs to Place.
If you were to box this Exacta, three or more horses can be picked rather than the traditional 2 horses. For example, you take Exacta box 1-2-3. A bet comes out successful in six possible combinations like 2-1, 1-2, 1-3, 3-1, 2-3, and 3-2. Boxing is just shorthand for placing another wager so it will cost you twice as much and payout half the amount listed in the Exacta column.
These are similar to box bets but a bettor does not need to pick the exact order of finish. You may have the confidence of horse 1 coming out successful but the second-place may throw up indecisiveness between horse 2 and 3. In such a case, a wheel bet safeguards the bettor by coming up with a return even on 1-2 and 1-3.
This type of wager is placed on races before the final declaration. A bettor is often tempted to place such bets due to the potential for high returns. It is very common to come across a substantial jump in price compared to the eventual Starting Price (SP). However, it is seen as one of the risky options considering that the stake is completely lost if the horse does not start the race. This is a serious possibility considering the risk of injury or even a change of plans.
Sportsbooks may provide the option of returning the stake in the case of a non-runner, but it is yet to be prevalent in all competitions. Futures are especially popular for major tournaments apart from the handicap races.
You may seek a substantial payout from a smaller stake. Multiple bets are best suited for these requirements, and they tend to combine multiple horses – across different races – to create long horse racing odds.
Double – You need to combine two horses for this type of that and both horses need to win. A bettor will receive returns only under this condition.
Treble – You need to make three selections and all three should be successful in order to generate returns.
Trixie – This can be a powerful combination involving four bets and three horses. The three horses would be combined into a treble and three doubles. Interestingly, just two horses have to win to qualify for a payout.
Yankee – This bet involves four selections – one accumulator, 4 trebles, and 6 doubles. You need to get at least two horses winning in order to get a return from the 11 bets. You can also be on the safer side by getting returns from just one winner if four more single bets are included as part of Lucky 15. An advantage of the Yankee system is the odds being doubled if all selections are successful.
Many US states have the option of pari-mutuel betting, which is also known as pool betting. Every money wagered during a particular place goes into a pool after deducting the house take. The remaining money is split between bettors who picked the winning horse. It is difficult to know the exact returns from a win, as the horse racing odds change when more people join the pool. Even though the odds for a specific horse are available before the start of the event, the difficulty in gauging the size of pool makes this a tricky market.
The general rule is that the percentage of winning payout decreases when more people are involved in the pool. In many ways, this system can be compared to jackpot or lottery where winners share the prize from a pool.
It is also possible for you to come across special bets in horse racing. They primarily include futures bets on the likes of Trainers’ and Jockey’s Championship. One can make long-term bets on these markets while enhanced prices are likely to be available on certain jockeys to ride horses. There are also some smaller markets like winning distances and total starting prices (SP’s). Some bookmakers even provide offers where a refund is provided if a horse falls or becomes disqualified.
The live or in-play betting market has become extremely popular in many sports and horse racing is among the first to embrace the same. The advancement in technology allows the possibility to place a wager on an event even after it has been flagged off. Yet, a great deal of experience and decision-making ability is required to come out successful. You have to contend with frequent changes to the price of a horse but still find value. The rewards can be much higher than in the regular form of betting, as it is usually possible to get a very long price on an eventual winner at certain stages of the race.
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