You have two categories of wagers to choose from when you bet on horses: straight wagers and exotic wagers. For a beginner, we recommend sticking with straight wagers. For a straight wager you simply pick one horse to come in first, second, or third.
Exotic wagers allow you to make multiple bets on multiple horses in a single wager. Exotic wagers are generally much more difficult to win than straight wagers and require an advanced degree of skill and knowledge in horse picking. However, the payoffs on exotic wagers are much greater than straight ones.
With a straight wager, you only bet on one horse.
- WIN – You’re betting that your horse will come in first place. If your horse finishes in first, you win.
- PLACE – You’re betting that he will come in first OR second. If your horse finishes in first or second, you win. Payout for a place bet is less than a win wager, but you do have the security of being able to cash in if your horse finishes in the top two spots.
- SHOW – You’re betting that your horse will come in first, second, OR third. You have a higher chance of winning, but the payout for a show bet is substantially less than a win or place wager.
- ACROSS THE BOARD – When you bet across the board, you’re betting your horse to win, place, AND show. An across-the-board bet is what’s called a “combo straight wager” because it’s three different bets (win, place, AND show) in one. Because it’s three bets in one, an across-the-board bet is more expensive than a simple win/place/show wager. For example, a $2 across-the-board wager will cost you $6, because you’re making three $2 bets. If your horse comes in first, you get the win, place, and show money. If your horse finishes second, you get place and show money. If your horse comes in third, you just get the show money.
- WIN/PLACE, PLACE/SHOW – Similar to an across-the-board bet in that you’re making multiple straight wagers in a single bet. In a win/place bet, you’re betting your horse to win AND place. If he wins, you collect both the win and place money. If he finishes second, you collect just the place money. In a place/show bet, you’re betting that your horse will place and show. If your horse finishes second, you collect the place and show money; if he finishes third, you just get the show money. A $2 win/place bet will cost you $4 because you’re betting $2 that your horse wins and $2 that your horse places.
Exotic wagers allow you to bet on multiple horses in a single bet, allowing you to increase your profit potential. They’re much harder to win than straight bets, and require much more skill in handicapping horses. We recommend you experiment with exotic wagers only after you have made some straight bets.
- EXACTA – You’re betting on two horses to come in first and second in an exact order. For example, if you placed a $2 exacta on horses 3 and 5, you only win if horse #3 comes in first and horse #5 comes in second. Exacta bets are popular among skilled horse handicappers because the payoff can be very lucrative. You can also “box” your exacta bet which means your two horses can come in any order in the top two spots and you still win.
- QUINELLA – With a quinella bet, you’re betting on two horses to come in first and second in any order. As long as your two horses finish in the top two spots, you win. So if you placed a $2 quinella bet on horses 1 and 6, you win if horse #1 and horse #6 come in first and second in any order.
- TRIFECTA – You bet that three horses will finish in first, second, and third in an exact order. If you place a $2 trifecta bet on 1-5-7, you only win if horse #1 comes in first, horse #5 comes in second, and horse #7 comes in third. You can also box your trifecta bet so you can win if your three horses come in first, second, and third in any order.
- SUPERFECTA – You bet that four horses will finish, first, second, third, and fourth in an exact order. As with exactas and trifectas, you can also box a superfecta.
We hope this helps and good luck with your future bets!