A beginner’s guide to betting on horse racing
First and foremost, there are two main types of horse racing.
Standardbred – this is also called harness racing. The horses pull a ‘bike’ with a driver and run at either a ‘trot’ or a ‘pace’.
Both styles have their strengths and weaknesses but are fun to bet for different reasons. It is completely a personal preference as to where you prefer to bet, or where you might have the
So,what are the odds?
A horse’s odds are calculated by first determining the amount of money bet into each pool. Every track will constantly update and list totals as each pool starts to fill up. Let’s say the WIN pool is $1000. We take out 20% for the track and are left with $800. Then we subtract the TOTAL amount bet on your horse – let’s keep it easy and say it was $100, and we are down to a $700 pot.
Divide that $700 by the TOTAL amount bet on your horse and round to the nearest dime.
700/100 = 7.
In this case, your horse’s odds would be 7:1 – or $7 won for every $1 wagered.
RULE # 1 – HANDICAP (just think about it).
Handicapping is “the art of predicting horses who have the greatest chance of winning a race, and profiting from these predictions at the horse races.”
So what does that mean?
– Look at the odds board. Is there a long shot? Odds are calculated up to 99:1 on the board but can go well above that. I’ve personally hit a 120:1 before. That’s $120 paid for every $1 bet.
– Look at the total pool. Is it large enough to pay out a reasonable amount of money?
– Look at the horses past performances. This can give you a great indication of what a horse is or was capable of – compare the times to the odds.
– Consider the weather. Anything goes if it’s raining.
– Watch post parade. This is where the horses come out and warm up. Does one catch your eye? Does it look ready to run or ready to go home? I used to always bet on the horse that was acting up… this has never worked for me once.
PLACE: You are betting on which horse will come in 2nd, they can come in 1st but you will only be paid 2nd place prices.
SHOW: You are betting on the horse to come in 3rd, they can come in 2nd or 1st, but you will only be paid 3rd place prices.
You can also bet to WIN/PLACE, and PLACE/SHOW, or all 3. But remember if you bet all 3, and your horse places 1st, you will win all 3 bets. If your horse places 2nd you will only win the PLACE/SHOW bets and if your horse places 3rd you will only win to SHOW.
Every bet to WIN shares a pool, every bet to PLACE shares a pool and so on. Most minimum WIN/PLACE/SHOW bets are $2.
If you win, but so does the majority of betters, the entire pool will be shared among every winner and your payout will not be very exciting.
Therefore, it is more important to have a bet no one else has made. This is harder to do by betting WIN/PLACE/SHOW. So how else can you bet? My 3 favorites are:
EXACTA: Guess the horses that come in 1st and 2nd, exactly.
TRIFECTA: Guess the horses that come in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, exactly.
SUPERFECTA: Guess the horses that come in 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th, exactly.
These bets are generally a $2 minimum, but depending on the track can be $1.
A SUPERFECTA is quite often a $0.20 minimum.
For example, on a race with 7 horses, I might take 3 horses for 1st place. 4 horses for 2nd place, 4 horses for 3rd place and this brings to me the most important rule, RULE # 3 – ANY HORSE IN LAST PLACE.
This allows me to cover my bases and create a bet no one else will have. A horse with very long odds might not come in 1st, but no one will have picked them for 4th either. This is how you take the whole pot.