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 Horse Racing Betting


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Horse Racing Betting


Horse Racing Betting System

Horse Racing Odds

The different types of horse racing betting

Basic Bets

Exotic Bets


Betting system

If you want to understand how to bet on horses you need to know how betting evolved in the horse racing industry. Modern system of betting used in the horse racing industry is the pari-mutuel betting system. Pari-mutuel literally means wagering among ourselves. This system was invented in 1872 by a French bookmaker from Paris Pierre Oller. The system allows bettors to buy as many tickets as they wish and bet on any horse they like. The system is based on the total money pool staked by the bettors and following equitable distribution of the money pool (minus a government’s tax) among the winning players. The final odds can’t be calculated until all the bets have been made and money collected. The horse that receives the most number of bets pays off the smallest amount of money. Pari-mutuel system guarantees a profit for bookmakers and makes it impossible to tamper the horse race results.

Horse racing odds

The betting on the race day starts with the numbers of the running horses in the first horse race displayed in order and accompanied with the corresponding “morning line” odds. This information is seen on the “tote board” located in the middle of the racing track visible for everybody. The morning line odds are determined by the racing officials for each horse before the horse races begin. The basis for the calculation of the morning line odds is the past performance of the horse.

When betting starts for the first horse race and money begin to roll in the odds start to change. Depending on the volume of betting the odds may change seven and more times during the 30 minutes break between the horse races. Every time a horse player makes a bet a ticket is issued for each bet, the bet amount is recorded and odds are recalculated.

If the odds are 10 and more they are expressed as a ratio to 1 – for ex. 12 to 1 or 17 to 1 etc... Only the first number will be displayed on the board. If a horse’s number is 6 and the odds for that horse are 12 to 1, then the board will show 6 followed by 12 in the next column. If the odds are less than 10, they are expressed as the ratios to 2, 4 and 5 – for ex. 3 to 2; 5to 4 or 7 to 5 etc… All odds are approximate but the payoffs will be exact numbers.

When a horse player buys a ticket he goes to one of many windows at the racetrack. The windows sell tickets for different prices - $2, $5, $10, $20 and $50. If for ex. a horse player wants to bet $200 at $20 window he needs to buy 10 separate tickets worth $20 each.

The different types of horse racing betting

Horse racing betting includes a multitude of bets available for a horse player. Different racing tracks may offer less possible bets than others. All bets fall in two distinct groups: straight (basic) bets and exotic bets. The difference between them is that the straight bets are made on one horse while exotic bets cover few horses in separate races or in the same race. Straight bets are comparatively simple. It makes sense for a beginner to start his horse racing betting with that type of bets. As soon as he'll become skilled at making straight bets, he can make a next step to expand his horse racing betting repertoire to exotic bets. Exotic bets offer a lot better pay offs to a horse racing gambler but their odds are hard to deal with. To be profitable, exotic bets require a lot of experience and handicapping work from a player.

Basic (straight) horse racing bets

There are three basic (straight) bets and corresponding money pools in American racing: “to win”, “to place” and “to show”. Betting to win” means that the player will be paid off if his horse will come first. Betting to place” – a bettor will collect if the horse will finish first or second. Betting to show”  is to make a bet that the horse will end up 1st, 2nd or 3rd. “Across the board” bet or a “combination ticket” is a wager on all three basic bets to win, to place and to show.

Exotic horse racing bets

Exotic bets include “daily double”, “twin double”, “quinella”, “exacta” (“perfecta”), “triple” (“trifecta”), “superfecta” and “5-6 sweepstakes pool”.

Betting on a Daily Double – a horse player wins if his horses come first in the first and second races.

Betting on a Twin Double – a bettor collects if his horses win in first, second, fifth and sixth races.

Betting on Quinella (quiniela) – it’s a bet that chosen horses will finish first and second in the same race regardless of the order they come in.

Betting on Exacta (perfecta) – this will be a winning bet if the horses will finish first and second in the chosen order in the same race.

Betting on "Trifecta" – a horse player will collect if his three horses will come first, second and third in the same race and in specified in advance order.

Betting on "Superfecta" – the horse player wins if four horses finish first, second, third and fourth in the selected order in the same race.

5-6 sweepstakes pool – a horse player wins if all six chosen horses finish first in the different races. There are consolation prizes if only four or five out of six horses finish first.

Not all exotic bets are offered on all racing tracks. On some of them only daily double and quinella bets are available; others may also add exacta and trifecta bets etc…

 Copyright Progress Publishing Co. 2006

Selected References:

John Scarne  New Complete Guide to Gambling The Gambling Times Guide to Winning Systems
Kelso Sturgeon  Guide to Sports Betting Alice Fleming  Something for Nothing/A History of Gambling
Carl Sifakis  The Encyclopedia of Gambling Alan Wykes   The Complete Illustrated Guide to Gambling