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How do you select the right wager? If reading this is a little overwhelming with the number of betting options, start simple and try to find a single horse you like. Bet the straight wagers until you get the hang of things, or until you find a horse you really like and try building an exotic wager around that horse. Remember, the smart bet is sometimes the bet you don’t make. Good luck out there.
A straight wager is a bet on a single horse in a single race.
Win: You betting that your horse will come in first place. If your horse crosses the finish line first, you win.
Place: You are betting that your horse will finish in the top two, either winning or coming in second place. The payout for a place bet is less than the odds to win, but you have the security of finishing first or second.
Show: You are betting that your horse will finish in the top three, either winning, coming in second or third place. The payout for a show bet is less than the odds to win and place, but you have the security of finishing in the top three horses.
Across the Board: When you place a bet across the board, you are essentially placing three different bets on the same horse. You are betting the horse to win, place and show. If your horse finishes first you will be paid for all three bets. If your horse finishes in second place you will be paid on the place and show wagers but lose the win wager. Remember, you are essentially making 3 bets. A $2 bet across the board will actually cost you $6 to place the bet.
Win/Place, Place/Show: Similar to across-the-board you can make bets that include two of the straight wagers.
Win/Place/Show Ladder: This strategy of betting takes into account that place and show bets pay less than win bets. In a WPS ladder, you stagger your bets placing more money on the lower paying end of the straight bet ladder. For instance a good base ladder would be a $2 win bet combined with a $6 place bet and a $12 show bet. This bet costs a total of $20. However, this strategy allows the bettor to make money on a horse that shows while providing more reward if the horse finishes second or even more if the horse wins the race.
Exotics bets are bets that include more than one horse, while exotic bets pay much more than straight bets, they are much harder to hit because you need to be correct about more horses. Exotic payouts are not entirely based on the odds of the horse, however, the higher the odds of the horses involved the more likely you are to receive a higher payout.
Horizontal Bets: Horizontal bets are exotic bets that occur in the same race. For instance exactas, trifectas, superfectas are all examples of horizontal bets.
Exacta: You are betting on two horses to finish first AND second in the same race in the exact order. An exacta bet of 1-5 will only pay if the number 1 horse wins the race and the number 5 horse finishes second.
Exacta Box: The exacta wager requires that you select the first two horses in order, adding a ‘box’ to you bet allows you to easily make two exacta bets. Using the example above, if you were to place a 1-5 exacta box, you would win if the race finished 1-5 or 5-1. You can also ‘box’ more than two horses in an exacta box. For instance an exacta box of 1-5-8 would allow for six different winning combination. (1-5, 1-8, 5-1, 5-8, 8-1, 8-5). However this bet would cost you 6 times the baseline bet. So a $2 exacta box that included 3 horses would cost a total of $12.
Exacta Wheel: The exacta wheel quickly allows you to make multiple exacta bets that focus on a single winning horse. This allows you to easily place multiple horses in the place half of your exacta. For instance you could place an exacta wheel of 1 w/ 5,8, this would consist of two exacta bets of 1-5 and 1-8. You are essentially betting the exacta with the 1 in first and either the 5 or the 8 in second. This can be done with any number of horses, in either position, just remember the more combinations that you create, the more expensive the bet will become.
Exacta Key: The exacta key is similar to an exacta wheel, but it allows for the reverse wheel to occur as well. Using the example from above an exacta wheel of 1 w/ 5,8 would create the same winning combinations of the original exacta wheel, but it would also include the reciprocal wheel of 5,8 w/ 1. This exacta key would include the winning combination of 1-5, 1-8 AND 5-1, 8-1. You are essentially betting that the 1 will finish first or second with the 5 or the 8 completing the other part of the exacta.
Trifecta: The trifecta is similar to the exacta except it adds the third place horse. A straight trifecta must name the first, second and third place horses in order. Trifectas are not easy to hit, but they pay very well.
Trifecta Box: The trifecta box works just like the exacta box. You can box three or more horses to complete the trifecta. A trifecta box would win if the three horses finished first, second or third in any order. A three horse trifecta box includes six different trifecta combinations. For instance a trifecta box of 1-2-3 would win on any of the following combinations, 1-2-3, 1-3-2, 2-1-3, 2-3-1, 3-1-2, 3-2-1.
Trifecta Wheel: The trifecta wheel works just like exacta wheel but takes into account the first three finishers in the race. You can include any number of horses in each leg of the trifecta key. For instance, a trifecta wheel could look like 1 w/ 2,3,4 w/ 2,3,4,5,6, this trifecta wheel places the number 1 horse in first, with either the 2,3, or 4 horse finishing second and any of the 2,3,4,5,6 horse coming in third. Calculating the cost of a trifecta wheel can get a little tricky, but essentially you can multiply the number of horses in each leg of the wheel while subtracting any horse that you have already used. So this example would cost 1x3x4 for a total of 12 different trifecta combinations.
Trifecta Key: The trifecta key works just like the exacta key, but again deals with the first three finishers of a race.
Superfecta: The superfecta is a bet on how the first four horses will finish in the race. As with exactas and trifectas, you can box, wheel and key horses in a superfecta. The minimum bet for most superfectas is only $0.10 which makes it a fun and cheap wager to make at the track.
Vertical Bets: Vertical bets are exotic bets that occur throughout multiple races. For instance, Daily Doubles, Pick 3s and Pick 4s are examples of vertical bets.
Daily Double: The daily double is a bet on the winner of two consecutive races. You can place a bet on a number of horses in each race, but those horses much win each race. For instance a daily double of races 1 and 2 of a days race card could include a daily double bet of 1 w/ 2,5,8. This bet would win if the number 1 horse wins the first race and either the 2,5 or 8 horse wins the second race.
Pick 3: The pick three is the same as the daily double, but it includes picking the winner of three consecutive races.
Pick 4: A bet picking the winners of four consecutive races.
Pick 5: A bet picking the winners of five consecutive races.
Pick 6: A bet picking the winners of six consecutive races.