Horse Betting Odds Explained

Welcome to the horse betting odds page here on ExplainBettingOdds.com. When it comes to betting on horse racing and other forms of pari-mutuel betting, many folks are confused about all of the different ways one can win, calculate odds and determine their payouts. This is because pari-mutuel betting is a type of gambling where bettors put all of their money into a large pool of bets which are placed against each other rather than against an establishment. This is a unique form of gambling which is primarily used in racing and means that winnings are contingent on the amount of bets placed and also the overall amount of money at stake to win. We have developed this page to aid bettors in understanding how this complex system works and how they may calculate their potential winnings across a wide range of various bet types.

Common Betting Odds When Betting On Horse Racing

There are a variety of wager types which are prevalent in horse racing which are divided into two main categories. ‘Straight Wagers’ are bets placed on a single horse to have a particular finish while ‘Exotic Wagers’ are bets placed on multiple horse to finish in a particular order in a race. Straight Wagers are typically brief and to the point with a clear payout while Exotic Wagers are typically higher priced with rougher odds however with fantastically large payouts. We will cover the most common wager types which you will find at a live racetrack or an online racebook.

Straight Wagers - The Most Normal Type Of Horse Betting Odds

In a straight wager at the track, a bettor is going to have 4 main bets to choose from which he or she can place on a single horse at a time. The odds on straight wagers are some of the more favorable in pari-mutuel betting although they do not offer very high payouts unless a bettor is picking a horse with dismal odds to outright win a race. The most common straight bets are as follows:

Win: A bet on a horse to ‘Win’ means that the bettor believes that the horse will finish in 1st place of a race. Any other result would mean a losing bet.

Place: A bet on a horse to ‘Place’ is when a bettor believes that the horse will finish in either 1st or 2nd place, no matter the order. The bettor will win if the horse finishes in either of the top two spots but any other place will result in a losing bet.

Show: A bet on a horse to ‘Show’ is to wager that the horse will finish either in 1st, 2nd or 3rd place, no matter the order. This bet may not offer a high payout as the likelihood of a horse finishing anywhere in the top three positions is much more likely than a ‘Win’ or a ‘Place’ bet.

Across the Board: This bet is pricier but ensures the bettor a variety of ways to win. An ‘Across the Board’ bet on a particular horse means that the bettor is making three separate bets all together in one, comprising ‘Win’, ‘Place’ and ‘Show’. If the horse wins the race, the bettor will win the payout for all three bets. If the horse finishes 2nd, the bettor will win the payouts for both ‘Place’ and ‘Show’. If the horse finishes third, the bettor only wins the ‘Show’ payout. If the horse finishes in 4th place or worse, the bettor wins nothing.

Exotic Wagers - Exotic Horse Wagers Are Where The Big Money Is Won

Exotic wagers are a bit more complex than straight wagers and include multiple horses finishing in a particular order rather than an outright prediction of the outcome of a single horse. They are much harder to hit upon but the payouts can be quite vast. There are two varieties of Exotic Wagers with one being “Horizontal” and the other being “Vertical”. Horizontal Exotics are placed on multiple horses in one particular race whereas Vertical Exotics are placed over multiple races on a particular horse or horses. We have compiled a list of the most common Exotic Wagers which one will find at any live racetrack as well as on an online racebook.

Horizontal Exotic Wagers For Horse Betting

Exacta: An Exacta wager is made on the top two horses to finish the race in an exact order. The bettor must successfully predict the winner and runner-up in precisely that order to win. Even if the bettor picked the right two horses but they didn’t finish in the right order, the bettor will have lost the bet.

Quinella: A Quinella wager is the same as an Exacta wager except that the bettor does not have to pick the horses in order. So long as the two chosen horses finish in the 1st and 2nd place, the bettor will have won his or her bet.

Trifecta: A Trifecta is much more difficult to hit on than an Exacta as it involves the 3rd place horse as well as the winner and runner up. A Trifecta is only successful if the bettor has predicted the top three finishers of a race in their exact order. Any other combination results in a losing bet.

Superfecta: The Superfecta wager is the most difficult of all of the Exotic Wagers and features the highest payout in all of pari-mutuel betting however with fantastically difficult odds to win. A bettor must successfully pick the top four horses in precise order in order to win. There is no other combination type which would result in a win other than correctly predicting the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place horses as they finished. While it is unlikely to predict such a result of a horse race, many tracks and online racebooks entice bettors to try their luck by offering minimum bets as low as $0.10. People have made tens of thousands of dollars off of a winning $1 Superfecta Wager.

Vertical Exotic Wagers For Horse Betting

Pick 3/Pick 4: A Pick 3 Wager is when a bettor picks the winner of three races in a row at a track. A Pick 4 is the same yet with a fourth race simply being added.

Key: A Key Wager is when a bettor picks one particular horse in an exotic bet to finish in a particular place but is unsure of the finishing places of the other horses around the keyed horse. A bettor may key a horse to ‘Win’ a race but can use multiple combinations for the 2nd and 3rd placed horses in a Trifecta for instance.

Wheel: A Wheel Wager or “wheeling a horse(s)” is the same as keying on a particular horse to finish in a particular place while betting multiple combinations of the horses ahead or behind it. Wheeling and Keying are nearly synonymous with each other in many instances at different tracks or online racebooks.

Box: “Boxing horses” in exotic bets is a way to get multiple combinations for predicted top finishers when the bettor feels confident in the top contenders but not necessarily their precise placement. For instance, a bettor can pick his top four favorite horses in a Superfecta Box where every combination is picked and he is guaranteed a win provided those four horses take 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place. Each box combination bet counts as its own wager however as this betting style can be quite costly. A $2 Box Superfecta of four horses would cost $48.

How do Wager Types Affect Horse Betting Payouts?

You may be wondering how much money you will stand to win off of a successful Straight or Exotic Wager and rightfully you should. But it is important to note that in pari-mutuel betting, the total winnings, or “purse” as it is called in horse racing, varies from race to race, day to day. The amount you stand to win is dependent on the amount of bettors and money wagered on the overall race. Straight Wagers will typically have the best odds however with the lowest payouts whereas Exotic Wagers will have difficult odds yet with impressive payouts. Most races will have updated purses listed before the start of a race along with fractional odds in which a bettor can determine how much they may win. For instance, a horse listed at 20/1 odds means that a bettor will collect $20 on every $1 wagered if that horse were to ‘Win’ a race off of a Straight Wager. All pari-mutuel betting facilities go off of this basic rule of thumb with $2 bets being the minimum. Exotic Wagers can be in the thousands such as the winning $1 Superfecta Wager in the 2010 Kentucky Derby which paid $28,000. If the bettor had wagered $50 instead of $1, they would in fact be millionaires today. Always be sure to check out a race’s purse before placing a bet to determine what winnings may be like and know that you can always count on fractional odds to help guide you.

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All of the different Straight and Exotic Wagers are available at our favorite online racebook, Bovada.lv. Having been in the business for decades, Bovada has optimized their page with the smoothest page design and betting options over 80 different racetracks across the globe with lines and odds updated and refreshed every second. Their online BetSlip features an impressively easy to navigate interface where users may look up any race of the day that they wish while make exciting Exotic Wagers such as a high paying Superfecta. Bettors at Bovada will also find enticing futures bets such as the upcoming Kentucky Derby where winners can be predicted before even the field has been set.

Members are treated well during all of their time placing bets with this online racebook as Bovada gives a generous 3% rebate on all straight bets placed, win or lose, each and every week. If that wasn’t enough, bettors get back 5% of all of their exotic bets no matter if they won or lost. Bovada.lv is our top pick and clear-cut favorite winner when it comes to betting the ponies as we recommend them to every horse racing fan in the country.