Horse Betting 101

How To Bet Horses

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Horse Betting 102

Horse Betting: How to Make a Place Bet

Betting to Place

Place - Your horse must come in first or second.

Next to the win bet, the Place wager is one of the oldest and most traditional. With a place wager, your horse must finish first or second. The wager pays the same whether your horse wins or not.

Place and Show bets are much more conservative , as you are giving yourself room for error since your horse can finish first or second, or first, second or third in case of show. However this means that the payoffs are a bit lower since you are sharing the place payoff with another horse or two. They are are most commonly used along with other wagers, such as "win and place", "across the board" or "win, place, and show", or "place and show".

Place payoffs and results
Place payoffs typically pay between $3.00 and $10.00, but can pay more with longshots and less with overwhelming favorites. Since the money you win in a place bet is generated by all of the money bet on the losing horses, the more horses in the race the greater your chances for a larger place payoff.

Reading the Tote Board
One important distinction is that the Place pool is an entirely different pool than Win. This means that horses may be bet differently in each of the pools. In a place wager, because you don't know which other horse will place, it is difficult to predict your potential place payoffs. But, by comparing the place dollars to the win dollars, you can check the percentage of dollars on your horse to place.

For example, looking at the #1 horse below, we can see that he has approximately 10% of the win pool, with $2,011/$20,000 = 10%. If we use the Win odds to as a yardstick, we would expect that the #1 would have about 10% of the Place pool bet on him, or $1,000 of the $10,000 Place pool. However, we can see that #1 has only $622 bet to place, or closer to 6% of the pool. This means that the #1 is paying better odds in the Place pool. The #1 is 8-1 to Win, but he is being bet like a 14-1 in the Place pool and will pay more accordingly.

This is like bargain shopping, when we get the value of a larger payoff when it "should" offer a lesser payoff. The "should" is based on the assumption that the Win odds are more correct that the Place odds. This is a logical assumption, however, since the Win odds are easier to see and more attention is paid to them, it is more likely that the Win odds are a truer reflection of the horse's chances. Keep in mind that if the #1 wins he will still pay more to win than to place (because Place has to be divided with another horse), but the #1 is a good value in the Place pool. In this case, it might make sense to bet the #1 only to Place.


Odds     Win      Place  
  1     8     $2,011     $622
  2     10     $1,656     $1,042
  3     5     $3,602     $1,857
  4     5-2     $6,855     $3,114
  5     10     $1,543     $755
  6     18     $892     $402
  7     9-2     $3,441     $2,208
      $20,000      $10,000  

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