A Crash Course in Horse Betting

Take a crash course in horse betting.

Key Points

– A new bettor doesn’t have to know everything to get started in horse betting.

– Getting started in horse betting requires some background knowledge.

A Crash Course in Horse Betting

It’s easy to understand why people enjoy horse betting. Horse races are breathtaking to watch, with their beautiful creatures, flashy jockey outfits, and all the pomp and circumstance. 

Add real-money betting and the possibility of a large payout and anyone can see why horse betting has been so popular for centuries all around the world. 

Horse betting can be scary for new bettors due to all the factors that make it so interesting. Horse racing venues tend to be crowded, noisy, and messy. If you don’t understand what is going on at the betting windows or on the track, you run the risk of being too confused to bet.

New horse bettors don’t need to know everything. They only need to be aware of a few key details to place their first bet. Here is a crash course in horse betting.


Understand the Different Bets

Horse race bettors have a choice between two fundamental wager types: straight bets and exotic bets. Straight bets are wagers on a specific horse to perform a certain action. The names of these bets are Win, Place, and Show.

  • If the horse you select comes in first, your Win wager wins.
  • A Place wager pays you whether the horse you select places first or second.
  • A show wager pays off if the horse you select places first, second, or third.

Obviously, Win bets pay off at a higher rate since the event is considerably less likely to occur. Although some online horse racing betting sites offer bets as low as $1, straight bets on a horse usually require a minimum bet of $2.

Exotic bets are available for players that enjoy taking bigger risks in exchange for greater possible winnings. The following is a list of several well-liked exotic horse race wagers:

  • If you correctly predict the first and second-place finishers in the exact order, your Exacta wager wins.
  • A Trifecta wager pays out if you correctly predict the winners of first, second, and third place in the race.
  • If you correctly predict the first, second, third, AND fourth-place finishers in a race, you’ll win a Superfecta wager.
  • A Daily Double requires you to predict the outcome of two related races. A Daily Double is often only available for the first and last two races of each day.
  • If you correctly predict the outcome of three straight races, your Pick 3 wager wins.
  • If you correctly predict the outcome of four straight races, your Pick 4 wager wins.
  • To place a Head-to-Head wager, select two horses, then rank them. Regardless of where they finished, the wager wins if the horse you picked to win defeats the other.

Horse Betting Strategy – Money Management

Without a strategy for controlling your money, you will not win regularly. Bettors can take on a number of money management strategies, but typically bettors will wager between 1 and 5 percent of their bankroll.

Horse bettors may adopt a flat betting strategy and bet the same amount on all bets. They may also grade bets and bet a little more on wagers they feel more confident in. Regardless, the idea is to pick a strategy and stick to it. 

Setting both a win limit and a loss limit is an additional strategy bettors can use. It’s crucial that you don’t lose more money than you bring to the track. Bettors should also establish a win limit too. This will protect whatever profits you do manage to accumulate. 


Be Selective

Being picky entails being prepared to overlook races. It means having patience. You don’t have to wager on every race. You don’t have to wager on races where there isn’t any value. Doing so is an easy way to lose money.

Keep in mind that not all opportunities to wager on horse races are created equally. There are many bad choices at the track on any given day. Profitable horse betting requires patience. Be selective with your bets and get the complete gaming experience.

Create Your Horse Betting Methods

Create your own horse handicapping methods. There are a number of factors that bettors can use to compare horses. 

Some only consider speed. Others focus on pace. Bettors can find all kinds of obscure rating and handicapping systems developed by bettors. They all have advantages and disadvantages. You just have to figure out what works for you.

There is handicapping software available as well as all sorts of books on the subject. The bottom line in horse betting is that you have to find the data, sort through it, and apply it.

Profitable horse betting requires practice and a ton of patience, neither of which are qualities that new bettors have. Don’t expect to be an immediate winner when you start betting on horse races.

Track Your Bets

Maintaining records is just as crucial to successful horse betting as handicapping. You should keep track of wins, losses, expenses, and a few other factors if you intend to take your horse betting seriously rather than just as a passing interest.

If you don’t track your bets, you’ll never be able to assess your betting performance in the past or your ability to handicap races. You will not be able to tell if you’re improving or headed for disaster.

Recognizing problems with your strategy will be difficult if you do not track your bets. Maintaining those records is easy these days. There is software out there to help you. You can do it the old-school way and keep a pen-and-paper list of your results. Many bettors will set up a simple spreadsheet to track everything.  

Whatever you do, just keep track of what you’re doing. In the end, it will help your horse betting success rate.