If you’re reading this, chances are that you’ve found yourself at a horse race, or you’re about to head to the horse races for the first time. You’re also looking to do some pari-mutuel betting and have a little fun. This article will cover the 3 most common bets in horse racing: the win bet, show bet and place bet. Put them all together and it’s known as a win place show bet or “across the board”.
By time you finish reading this you will have all the information you need to purchase your tickets, understand what the payouts are, and gain a little experience along the way. Ok, off to the races…
Beginner Horse Racing Bets: Win Place and Show
The simplest and most common wager at the track is the win bet. If you’re like me, this will be the first ticket you purchase. A simple $2 wager on the first horse and jockey to cross the finish line. Why $2? That has traditionally been the minimum wager at the track. With the advent of online racebooks and other forms of wagering, you might find lower amounts, but $2 is typically the smallest bet you can make.
While $2 is the minimum bet, you can go much higher. So, a wager like $6, $10, $30, or $100 is also perfectly acceptable. Regardless of what you bet, the odds will be the same. The payout will just be higher, or lower, depending on the size of your bet.
Remember, when you book a win bet, you are betting on which horse will be the winner of the race. The second, third, fourth, or last place finisher are totally irrelevant. The order of all the other horses does not matter. The only thing that matters to you is: Did your horse cross the finish line before all of the other horses? It doesn’t matter if you win by a nose, a horse length, or a furlong… it’s simply the first horse to cross the finish line wins. Period.
If you’re at the horse track, you can look up at the tote board and see the odds for each horse. Just look at the number for each horse and the odds will be displayed directly next to them. If you see a number like 5 next to a horse, this means it pays 5:1. Just keep in mind that this is the return for the win bet. There is more information below on how to calculate how much your ticket will payoff below.
Many experts consider playing a horse to Win to be the best bet in horse racing. It’s also the first component of the win place show bet…
One of the other wagers you can make is called a place bet, and a lot of bettors prefer this lower risk strategy. With this type of bet, you will cash if your horse comes in first OR second. If you cash, the amount you profit will be less, but you have more chances of getting a payout.
Much like the win bet, everything but first OR second place is irrelevant. If you make a place bet and your horse is the first or second to cross the finish line, then you cash. Your payout will be the same regardless if your horse finishes in first or second, because you will be winning from the place bet pool.
The same rules apply to the place bet as the win bet in terms of wagering size – it needs to be at least $2 in most situations. This is the second component of the win place show bet.
Next, there is the show bet. If you’ve seen a pattern developing here, then you’re right. With the show bet, you cash if your horse finishes first, second, OR third. Much like the place bet, your winnings will be the same regardless if your horse finishes first, second, or third. Again, this is because you will be getting paid from the show bet pool.
Since you have 3 ways to cash and the odds of picking the first, second, or third place finisher is much easier to do, the return will be lower than both the win or show bets. However, if your goal is to pick a horse and have a higher percentage chance of cashing, then this might be the wager for you.
Just like the win and show bets, the minimum is $2 for this type of bet. It’s also the final component of the win place show bet.
Across The Board (Win Place Show Bet)
Finally, there is the win place show bet, or across the board. Both of these terms are used interchangeably; they mean the exact same thing.
If you make a win place show bet, then the minimum you will need to bet is $6, because what is actually happening is you are placing a $2 win bet, $2 place bet, and $2 show bet all at the same time.
So, let’s say, for example, you are at the race track and like the 6 horse in the 2nd race of the day. What you would do is walk up to the teller window and say “Give me the 6 horse in the 2nd race across the board for $2.” They will ask for $6 and hand you your ticket.
Now, let’s say the 6 horse comes in 2nd. What would happen is you would cash on your place and show wagers and not your win wager. This is a fairly common betting strategy, because it is a way to lower your risk a bit, since you have an opportunity to recoup your losses on your win or place bets if your horse finishes in 2nd or 3rd.
Win Place Show Payout Examples
Here are a couple of examples of Win payoffs based on the odds you might see on the tote board:
2/1 pays $6.00
7/2 pays $9.00
9/2 pays $11.00
10/1 pays $22.00
(Based on a $2 win bet).
Or, you can go for the long shot and really try to have a big payday!
7 Quick Facts About Win Place Show
1. Win, Place, and Show bets are the most common types of bets placed on horse races in the United States.
2. The minimum bet for a Win, Place, or Show bet is $2.
3. To win a Win bet, your horse must finish first.
4. To win a Place bet, your horse must finish first or second.
5. To win a Show bet, your horse must finish first, second, or third.
6. The payouts for Win, Place, and Show bets are determined by the odds of the horse at the time the bet is placed.
7. The odds for a horse to Win are usually higher than the odds for a horse to Place or Show.
Horse Racing Betting Explained