The Rules of Horse Racing - Types Of Bets
By Alan Cramer
How to bet on horse racing and win! The first thing to understand is that in traditional horse racing betting, you are in direct competition with the 'bookie' - the person or company that lays the odds. They want your money, and you want theirs. Each bookie has an 'oddsmaker' - a person or system that creates their 'book'. In theory a book is structured so that the bookie can't lose - whoever wins the race, the odds are so structured as to guarantee a profit to the bookmaker.
The most common types of horse race bets are:
Straight bet (a.k.a. 'Single' or 'Win' bet). This is a bet that a certain horse will win. For this, you are given definite odds. If your selection wins, so do you, receiving back the amount specified by the odds you accepted.
Place bet. This is a bet that your horse will finish either first or second, and of course has worse odds than a straight bet.
Show Bet. This is a bet that your horse will finish either first, second, or third and of course has worse odds than a place bet.
Combination Bet. This bet allows you to choose between two and four horses to win in a specified order. The cumulative odds on this can multiply rapidly if you get it right.
Pick 3 bet. You must pick the winners of three consecutive races. This is surprisingly hard to do, as you have to choose all 3 before the first one kicks off.
Pick 6 bet. You must pick the winners of six consecutive races, choosing all 6 before the first one kicks off.
Quiniela or Reverse Forecast (UK) bet. You can bet on two horses to finish first and second in a single race where the order doesn't matter - either horse A is first and Horse B is second, or vice versa. To bet you say "$10 quiniela, numbers 3 and 7". If the results of the first two horses are either 3-7 or 7-3, you win.
Perfecta / Exacta / Straight Forecast (UK) bet. You bet on two horses to cross the finish line in exactly your chosen order. To bet you say " $5 Perfecta, 4-7." Only if the horses finish 4-7 you win.
Trifecta / Tricast / Treble Forecast (UK) bet. Like a Perfecta, but betting on three horses to cross the finish line in exactly your chosen order. To bet you say "$10 trifecta numbers 3,2 and 5." Only if they finish 3-2-5 you win.
Superfecta bet. That's right - you guessed it! four horses to cross the finish line in the exact order you specify.
Daily Double. Allows you to select the winners of the first and second races of the day, placing your bet before the start of the very first race. To bet you say something like "$5 daily double on 6 (your pick to win in the first race) and 2 (your pick to win in the second race)".
Jackpot bet. Like the lottery, you pick six winners in six races. Prizes vary, but because the odds are so extreme, they tend to be very large.
Accumulator bet. A sequence of bets of your choice, where you 'let it ride'. You bet on multiple races, and the winnings are passed along to the next bet in the sequence. If you get it right, this can multiply up to very large sums quite rapidly, although even one wrong call will mean you lose everything. Not for the faint of heart! (tied or cancelled races are simply removed from the accumulator).
Future bet. At the start of each horse racing season, you will be able to get odds on a horse to win a certain event at some future point which you specify. The odds you get are fixed, so even if they shorten for everyone else as the race approaches, you still get the original odds you were offered.
In the UK, bets are done slightly differently. If you want to place an each way bet, you need to know that with 2 to 4 runners you can't do place betting. With 5 to 7 runners you can bet on the 1st and 2nd and will win one quarter the odds. With 8 or more runners, you can go all the way to show and will win one fifth odds.
To complicate matters, handicap races have different rules - with 12 to 15 runners you can go all the way to show at one quarter odds. With 16 or more runners you can bet on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th at one quarter odds. Don't ever be afraid to ask for advice - the bookie WANTS you to bet and will explain ant term you don't understand.
Alan Cramer is turf correspondent for supabets.com the free site all about betting and gaming.