The thunder of the hooves. The tension in the air. The stakes are high. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of a live horse race. Horse betting was the original Vegas. It started in a world before casinos, lotteries, and slot machines. It’s a classic sport that has only gotten better with time.
In the world of horse racing, there are different kinds of horse bets. Our goal is to help you understand how to bet on horses, different types of bets that can help you win big and how to enjoy your experience in the process.
Types of Horse Racing Bets: Straight Bets and Exotic Bets
Horse betting is what makes this event one of the most popular sports in the world. And knowing how to bet on horses can keep you coming back for more. Horse bets can be put into one of two categories; straight bets and exotic bets.
Straight Bets in Horse Racing
Straight bets are pretty simple. You are betting on a single horse. You’re betting on how that one horse will perform in a race. Straight bets are popular for horse owners, and fan favorites. They are also one of the easiest bets to place. There are four kinds of straight bets:
- Win: You pick the winner. Simple as that. You win money only if your horse wins first place.
- Place: This is hedging your bets that your horse will win first OR second. If they do, you win. However, the reduced risk will produce smaller payouts.
- Show: You win if your horse finishes first, second, or third. Again, the potential payout is reduced with the risk.
- Across the Board: By making an “Across the board bet”, you are actually placing three separate bets. One win bet, one place bet and one show bet. An Across the Board bet costs 3x the amount wagered. If your runner comes in first place you win all three prices (win, place and show). If your runner finishes second, you win place and show prices. If third you win the show prize.
Exotic Bets in Horse Racing
Exotic bets involve multiple horses and have a greater risk than straight bets. However, with most risky gambles, they have the potential for a much higher return on investment. There are two kinds of exotic bets you need to understand to know how to bet on horses: Horizontal Wagers and Vertical Wagers.
Vertical Wagers: Vertical bets are those that usually end with a “cta,” such as exacta, trifecta or superfecta. These types of bets require players to pick the top finishers in a single race in the exact order of finish.
- Exacta: When placing an exacta bet you are selecting the first and second place runners in the exact order. The runner you select in the 1st leg must come in first. The runner you select in the 2nd leg must come in second. If your runners finish in the exact order you selected, you win. This wager is a bit riskier than a win bet but also pays significantly more. This wager is the “bread and butter” of many professionals.
- Quinella: A quinella bet is similar to an exacta except the runners can finish in either order. As long as both of your selections finish in the top two positions, you win. The payouts are a bit lower than an exacta, but so is the risk. This is primarily found in Greyhound betting and some international racing.
- Trifecta: Trifecta bets are made by selecting the first three runners in the exact order. Your 1st selection must come in first, 2nd selection second, 3rd selection third. If they finish in the exact order you selected, you win! Trifecta wager pays a bit higher prices than an exacta but also carries a bit more risk. For those players that can handicap well, this can be a very profitable wager.
- Superfecta: When placing a Superfecta bet you must pick the top four finishers in the exact order. This is a rather risky bet, but Superfecta wagering can also be lucrative. Watch for your opportunity to strike and you may have a good day in a single bet!
Super High Five: Super High Five wager is on the top 5 finishers in the exact order. This wager is quite risky but also pays extremely well.
- Hexafecta: You guessed it… a Hexafecta is the top 6 finishers in the exact order. More risk, more reward!
Boxed and Wheels: For those who know how to bet on horses, they may box or wheel their horse bets. Certain bets (specifically exactas, trifectas, and superfectas) come in boxed or wheel form.
Boxed Bet: A Boxed bet means that your selections can finish in any order. So, you can place an exacta bet, (selecting the first and second place runners), but if you’re not sure which one will come in first, you can “box” those horses in an exacta bet and you would win if any of them finish first and second.
There is a more advanced method of boxing bets and it’s called Dutch Wagering. Dutch betting allows a player to create a bet built from multiple individual wagers, with the aim being to achieve the same payout no matter what selected runner comes in.
Wheel Bet: A Wheel (or Part Wheel) bet, means selecting different horses for each position. So, if you are confident in your #1 pick, but aren’t sure about second place you can bet an exacta wheel, which means it will pay out if your first choice wins, and if any of your others finish second.
On AmWager’s easy-to-use online betting platform, there is no actual wheel bet selection. Instead, bettors can simply select multiple runners and accomplish the same thing.
Horizontal Wagers: Horizontal bets involve betters picking winners of a specific number of races, commonly ranging from two to as many as six or seven.
- Daily Double (DBL): In a double wager you must select the winner of two races. Those races may be consecutive races, split races at the same track, races at different tracks or even races on different days. Double bets can carry decent reward for the savvy bettor.
- Pick Bets (PK#): Pick wagers cover a wide range of the betting field. A “Pick” bet is when you pick the winner of a specified number of races. That can vary from a PK3 (Pick 3, three races) to a P12 (Pick 12, twelve races). The most popular of which is the Pick 6 wager due to its high carryovers. As the number of races goes up, so does the difficulty and so does the reward. High number pick wagers are among the highest paying wagers in the industry! Do your homework, pick your runners and good luck!
- Twin Trifecta (TR2): A twin trifecta is the first exchange wager you will likely run into. In this case you first wager a trifecta bet in a selected race. If you win that wager you will be paid a portion of the pool. You will also receive 1 wager into the 2nd half of the pool which is a trifecta in another predetermined race. If you select the correct combination there, you will be paid out a portion of the jackpot. Since this wager is so difficult it can go months without the 2nd half being won. In those cases, tracks will run “force outs” where the 2nd half will be paid fully to someone even if no one selects all three runners correctly. In some extreme cases it can pay out to anyone who made it to the second half (Paid on any combination).
- Tri-Super (TS): Similar to a Twin Trifecta except with a Trifecta in the first race and a Superfecta in the second half. Much harder to win and also more prone to force outs.
- Twin Super (SP2): Similar to a Twin Trifecta except with two Super Wagers. Much more difficult and rare.