The main object of betting on horses is to beat the 'Oddsmakers' or the 'Odds Compilers' and win some money. Additionally, placing a bet on your favorite event makes the race exciting and more enjoyable.
Betting is done through racebooks (US) and Bookmakers (UK) entities that accept bets. You can bet on the outcome of horse races and several sporting events.
To place a bet, you go to a racebook, physical or online. You could also bet over the phone with many sports books. Note that a sports book is not the same as an oddsmaker. The sports book simply accepts sports bets. An oddsmaker is a person who sets the betting odds.
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You need to state what you are betting on by making a selection, the type of bet and the amount you are wagering. Your selection will obviously depend on the odds offered, so you will want to examine the range of odds available before you make a decision.
There are many types of bets you can place. Some sports books may offer more betting varieties and combinations than others. Below is a list of the more common types of bets used in horse racing and sport events.
- Straight bet or Single or Win bet. This is the simplest and most common bet. You bet on a winner at given odds. You collect only if your chosen horse is the first across the finish line.
- Place. A wager for place means you collect if your selected horse finishes either first or second.
- Show. The third horse across the finish line. A wager to show means you collect if your selected horse finishes either first, second or third.
- Combination Bet. Combinations cover from two to four horses to win in chosen order.
- Pick 3. This wager requires the player to pick the winners of three consecutive races. Some race tracks have a rolling pick 3 which is when the player must pick three races in a row and it continues for the next three races.
- Pick 6. This wager requires the player to select the winner of six consecutive races prior to the first race of the pick six. Some tracks place the pick six as the first six races, the middle six races, or the last six races. Many tracks have carry over pools for the pick six that can grow to as high as a million dollars.
- Quiniela or Reverse Forecast (UK). A bet placed on two horses to finish first and second in either order.
- Perfecta or Exacta or Straight Forecast (UK). A bet placed on two horses but they must cross the finish line in exact chosen order.
- Trifecta or Tricast or Treble Forecast (UK). A bet placed on three horses to cross the finish line in exact chosen order.
- Superfecta. A bet placed on four horses to cross the finish line in exact chosen order.
- Daily Double. Similar to an accumulator you select the winners of the first and second races on that day. You must place your bet before the start of the first race.
- Jackpot. Pick six winners in six races to share in a Jackpot prize. The rules and prizes will vary from race track to race track.
- Parlay or Accumulator. A multiple bet. A kind of 'let-it-ride' bet. Making simultaneous selections on two or more races with the intent of pressing the winnings of the first win on the bet of the following race selected, and so on. All the selections made must win for you to win the parlay. If a race is a tie, postponed or cancelled, your parlay is automatically reduced by one selection; a double parlay becomes a straight bet, a triple parlay becomes a double. A parlay bet can yield huge dividends if won.
- Future. A bet on a future event. At the start of each season, the sports books give out odds for horses to win a certain event. The odds change as the race date approaches and in most cases get shorter, but if you win you get paid at the original odds that you took. This is possibly one of the most profitable bets if you have considerable knowledge of the race that you are betting on including the jockeys, and a good sense of judgement.
- Exotic Bets. Betting on unusual events. Some sports books post odds and take bets on a wide variety of other sports related events and activities. A few others will take bets on just about anything you can think of.
- Proposition Bet or Prop Bet. An offer of bets at odds and conditions chosen by the sports book, usually on 'Exotic' bets.
Some practical examples of betting and variations
The Daily Double: You win if you pick the winner of the first and second race. To bet you say "$2 daily double on 3 (your pick to win in the first race) and 5 (your pick to win in the second race)". Your bet must be placed before the start of the first race.
Quiniela: You win if you pick two horses that finish first and second, in either order, in any single race. To bet you say "$2 quiniela, numbers 5 and 6". If the results of the first two horses are either 5-6 or 6-5, you win.
Quiniela Box: Pick three or more horses. You win if any two of your selections finish first and second. To bet you say "$2 quiniela box on 4,5 and 6". You are making three separate bets so your minimum bet is $6. If they finish 4-5, 4-6, 6-4, 6-5, 5-4 or 5-6, you win. You can box as few as three or as many as the field.
Perfecta: The Perfecta is similar to the Quiniela, except the two horses must finish in the exact order. To bet you say " $3 Perfecta, 5-6." Only if the horses finish 5-6 you win.
Straight Trifecta: Pick the first three horses to cross the finish line in exact order. To bet you say "$2 trifecta numbers 7,4 and 5." Only if they finish 7-4-5 you win.
$1Trifecta Box: Pick three horses to finish first, second and third, in any order. To bet you say "$1 trifecta box 2,3 and 5." You are actually making six $1 bets, so your total bet is $6. If they finish 2-3-5, 2-5-3, 3-2-5, 3-5-2, 5-2-3 or 5-3-2, you win.
$1 Trifecta Key: Pick your favorite horse to win, then two or more others to place and show in any order. To bet you say "$1 trifecta key on 1 with 2 and 3." You are actually making two $1 bets so your total bet is $2. To win your Key horse must win and the other two must finish either 1-2-3 or 1-3-2.
Each Way bets:
- 2-4 runners; no place betting allowed
- 5-7 runners; 1st and 2nd one quarter the odds
- 8+ runners; 1st, 2nd and 3rd one fifth odds
- Handicaps 12-15 runners; 1st, 2nd and 3rd one quarter odds
- Handicaps 16+ runners; 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th one quarter odds
Patent: three selections combined for seven bets (one treble, three doubles and three singles).
Yankee: made up of four selections combined into eleven bets (four trebles, six doubles and a four-horse accumulator).
Super-Yankee: as above, but five selections combined into a total of 26 bets (ten trebles, ten doubles, five four-horse accumulators and a five-timer).
Note: Different countries and different race tracks may have different rules, use different terms for how to bet and also for the types of bets. If unsure, ask the sports book or bookmaker when placing a bet.