In jurisdictions where betting on horse races is legal, it is common for the race tracks themselves to offer local betting, often (but not always) in the form of parimutuel betting. Parimutuel betting is a type of betting where the stakes from all the bettors are put into a pool and used to pay out to the winners (after a deduction made by the betting provider). With parimutuel betting, you can’t know in advance how much you will win on your stake if you win, because the payout will depend on how much money that enters the pot before the race and how many winners to pay afterwards.
If you bet online, you can find both parimutuel betting and fixed-odds betting on horse races. With fixed-odds betting, you know in advance how much a certain bet will pay if you win.
Examples of bets that can be made online
On betting sites that chiefly cater to punters in the United States, the three most common bets are win, place and show.
- Win: You only get paid if the horse wins the race. This type of bet is also known as straight.
- Place: You get paid if the horse wins or comes second in the race.
- Show: You get paid if the horse comes first, second or third in the race.
For races with few participating horses, it might not be possible to bet on show because the statistical chance of getting paid would be too high.
ALWAYS check the exact rules of a bet on the site before you wager any money, even if the site seems to be focused on U.S. gamblers. In today’s world, there are many sites that cater to an international market and mix and match different rules as they see fit. For instance, the rules for the place bet can vary significantly. In many parts of Europe and Asia, as well as in Australia, the number of payout places for a place bet will vary depending on the size of the field. In the UK, you can for instance expect to get paid on a place bet if your horse finnishes first, second or third, provided that there are eight or more horses in the race. For a handicap race with 16 runners, it is common to pay out for the spots 1-4.
What’s an each-way bet?
Many betting sites online offer each-way (E/W) bets. With an each-way bet, half of the wagered amount is placed on win and the other half on place.
One most (but not all!) sites, you are paid full winning odds if your horse win + the place portion. If the horse only places, you get a quarter or a fifth of the odds, depending on the race-type and number of participants in the race.
Of course, it is very important to check in advance what this particular site see as placing in the race for this event. The first three? Firtst five? Even more?
What’s an across-the-board bet?
The each-way bet described above is fairly uncommon on betting sites focused on the United States market. On such sites, you are more likely to encounter the across the board (win/place/show) bet.
Whit this bet, the total wager is split and each portition is treated as a separate bet by the totalizator.