Question by : How does betting at races work?
Ive never really got how betting works, do you bet 0 and get double back? Is this how betting works, or is it some other way?
Answer by Laura
It’s more complicated than that. How much you win depends on two things: the odds on the horse (or horses) you are betting on, and the type of bet you made.
In the U.S., betting on horse races is “parimutuel” betting, in which you are betting against other bettors rather than against a “house.” The odds on a particular horse in a particular race depend on how much money is being bet on that horse. The odds drop as money is bet. Low odds mean that lots of people think the horse will win the race. Odds are expressed as a ratio; e.g., 10-1, 7-2, 1-1, and so forth.
The simplest bets are win, place, and show bets. If you bet a horse to win, that horse must come in first in order for you to collect. A “place” bet means you collect if the horse comes in first or second, and a “show” bet means you collect if the horse is first, second, or third. There are also so-called exotic bets that involve combinations of horses and/or multiple races, but we won’t go into them.
So, let’s say you bet on horse #6 to win the race, and she does. You get back your , plus an amount that depends on the odds. If her odds at the start were 1-1, you’d get an additional back, for a total of . If she went off at 4-1, you’d receive (your plus an additional ). You can make a lot of money if a longshot comes in first. A horse that wins at odds of 50-1 pays you back 2!
The odds keep changing as long as people are allowed to bet–that is, right up until the start of the race.
If you bet horse #6 to place and she came in first or second, you would win money, but not as much as if you had placed a “win” bet. If you bet her to show and she came in first, second, or third, you’d win money, but even less.
Remember, the payout reflect the odds on a particular horse. It’s not unusual for a “place” or “show” bet on a horse with longer odds to pay more than the winning bet on a favorite horse.
How do people decide which horse to bet on? The process is called “handicapping.” A handicapper examines various factors to make his best guess as to which horse is most likely to win a race. These factors include the horse’s past performances in other races, track conditions, trainer, jockey, and so forth. Some handicappers are very serious and put a great deal of time and research into it. Of course, some people also bet on the prettiest horse, or the one whose name they like most.
Here are a couple of resources for you to learn more:
Also, each track has a handicapper who is responsible for teaching newcomers the basics of wagering. Don’t be afraid to ask for his/her help. The industry operates off of bettors, and it is in their best interest to help you out, so that you will have success and come back for more fun.
Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!