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Racing Dudes Beginners Series: Understanding Betting
Coady Photography

Racing Dudes Beginners Series: Understanding Betting

The Basics:

Win:  This is the  simplest bet you can make on a race.  A win bet is an attempt to predict the horse that will win the race.  If the horse wins, you will collect on your bet.  The odds listed for the horses on the toteboard are the win odds for each horse.  So if you bet $2.00 to win on a horse that is 2-1, that means you’ll profit $4.00 if he wins.  Simple as that!

Place:  Much like the win bet, a place bet  is a bet that the horse will finish in first or second.  If the horse does finish in one of the top two spots, you win the bet.  This type of bet has less risk, but also a smaller reward.  When cashing a place ticket, you get the place money, which is shown on the 2nd column of the payouts.  This amount is usually half the amount of the win payout, sometimes even lower.  When making a place bet, it does not matter if the horse wins or comes in second, you will win the same amount.

Show: The Show bet is used when you want to bet that a horse will finish in the top 3 positions in the race.  It’s the safest bet in horse racing,  but often the payouts are very low.  Again, if the horse comes in first or second, you will not win any more money than if the horse finishes third.

Across the Board (Win/Place/Show): This is when you combine Win, Place, and Show wagers.  If you bet a horse “across the board” you are effectively betting him to Win, Place, and Show.  If the horse wins, you collect on all 3 bets.  If the horse comes in 2nd, you collect the Place and Show payoffs.  If the horse comes in 3rd, you collect on the Show bet only.  Since this is actually 3 bets combined, a $2 bet “across the board” will cost $6.

Exotic Wagering in a Single Race:

Exacta: One of the simplest single-race exotic bets, the Exacta is the combination of predicting the winning horse and the second place horse, in order. This will pay more than betting either of the horses to win or place.  You can bet the exacta in two ways.  First, you can bet a “straight exacta” meaning the horses you wagered on must come in the exact order you picked them for the bet to win.  You can also “box” the exacta, meaning the horses you picked can come in at any order, as long as they finish first or second.  Boxing your exacta does double your betting amount though.

Example of straight Exacta: $1 exacta straight with horses 1-2 costs $1.  Horse 1 must finish first; Horse 2 must finish second.

Example of Boxed Exacta: $1 exacta box with horses 1-2 costs $2. (two combinations)  Horses 1 and 2 have to finish first and second, but in any order.

Trifecta: The Trifecta is just like the exacta, only you are trying to predict the order of finish for the top three horses.  It is significantly harder to predict than an Exacta, and accordingly will pay out much more for a winning bet.  Also like the exacta, you can bet the trifecta straight, or box it.

Example of straight Trifecta: $1 trifecta straight with horses 1-2-3 costs $1.  Horse 1 must win, horse 2 must finish second, horse 3 must finish third.

Example of a boxed Trifecta: $1 trifecta box with horses 1-2-3 costs $6. (six combinations) Horses 1-2-3 have to finish first, second or third in any order.

Superfecta: The most difficult of the single-race exotics, the Superfecta, requires the bettor to predict the first four finishers.  The payouts are extremely good, but they aren’t often hit.  Like the exacta and trifecta, you can play this wager straight, or box it.  One huge difference though is the fact that you can play this bet with a .10 cent minimum wager.  When boxing a superfecta the cost is $24 when you bet a $1 bet because you are playing 24 combinations.  But when betting a dime superfecta, the cost for boxing four horses is only $2.40!  The pay outs for the dime superfecta are lower, but still good enough to make it worth your while.

Here is a link to a wagering calculator to help you understand:

Exotic Wagers on Multiple Races:

Daily Double: The Daily Double requires the bettor to pick the winner in two consecutive races.  Most tracks usually offer an Early Double (Races 1 & 2) and a Late Double (last two races on the card).  There are also tracks that offer Double’s in the middle of a card.

Pick 3 and Pick 4:  These bets are just like the daily double, only you have to pick three winners in a row for a pick 3 and four winners in a row for the pick 4.  The base bet for these races is $1, so if you only select one horse from each race it’s a cheap bet.  But, if you can select multiple horses from each race if you want.  Here is an example:

Let’s say I want to bet a pick three using races 4, 5, and 6.  In the fourth race there is a horse I think will dominate and win easy, but in the fifth and sixth I’m having trouble finding a winner.  So I could bet a ticket that looks like this:

Race 4: Horse 1

Race 5: Horses 1,2,3,4

Race 6: Horses 5,6,7,8

What I have done is “singled” the dominate horse and used four horses in the other two races.  As long as any of those four horses I’ve selected win the race, my bet is still good.  The bet will cost me $16 dollars.  To find the bet amount just simply multiply the number of horses together that you are betting in each race.  The “singling method” is often used by experienced handicapers.

Pick 6: This is the grand daddy of them all!  The pick 6 requires you to correctly predict SIX winners in a row.  The pick 6 payouts are extremely high, but extremely difficult to hit.  They are often described as a thinking mans lottery.  The pick 6 is a little different from the pick 3’s and 4’s in one very important way.   If nobody hits the pick 6 for a given day, which happens often, a large portion of the money bet into the pool is carried over for the next day!  Often times the pools can grow very large and pay well into the million dollar range.

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