Horse Betting 101: Introduction

Jeff Perkins
4 min readMar 6, 2018


Photo by Keith Luke on Unsplash

Betting on horses can be one of the most heart-racing and exciting forms of gambling. Whether it be local horse tracks with small crowds, to worldwide events like the Kentucky Derby, players are always willing to show up, bet on horses, and have a great time.

In the next couple of days, I will be releasing a series of blog posts that will provide tips, information, and quick lessons as to how you can get started betting on horses. Many people seeing horse betting as a very complicated and intimidating process, but it doesn’t have to. In today’s lesson, I will cover the most basic parts of horse betting to give you a little information to get started!

Where can I bet on horses?

When it comes to betting on horses, there are many different places you can do it. Obviously speaking, one can bet on horses at a track that is sponsoring these races. If you are planning on attending a race at a certain track, you will be given a plethora of information, and you place your bets at booths that are based everywhere around the track. Like a specific horse? It’s as simple as walking up to the booth and placing money on that horse.

While most people attend the actual races to bet on horses, you can also do it from the comfort of your own home. One of the best places to bet races is with Bovada. Bovada provides real time odds, up to the minute information, and partners with many large tracks throughout the world. The same betting principles apply here, and you can place your wages directly through the website.

Odds and Lines

When you are getting ready to place your bets on specific horses, you are given an information sheet that shows all important data for handicappers. This important sheet will show you every horse that is racing and the odds associated with them. The way odds are displayed vary differently, but the same principles apply for horses as in sports. Horses that are generally considered favorites will have lower payouts, and this information is determined from the horse’s record, health, and the skill of the jockey.

Generally speaking, the United States uses decimal or fractional odds to generate payouts. The United Kingdom and most of Europe use fractional odds. Consider the example.

Horse “A” is the favorite to win the Kentucky Derby. His odds to win the Kentucky Derby are set at 9/2. If you are to bet $100 on horse “A” the payouts would apply.

$100*(9/2 odds) = $450 win

If the system you are betting with uses decimal odds, a 9/2 payout would equate to +450. This means that for every $100 you bet, you could win $450.

Win, Place, and Show Bets

The most common bet that is placed during horse racing events is Win, Place, and Show. Simply put, these are a bet that says a specific horse will finish in either first, second, or third.

Win bets: A win bet is very simple when it comes to horse racing. A win bet is placed when you think a specific horse will finish 1st in a given race. While it may be risky to place your money on a specific horse to finish 1st, these provide greater payouts. Many times in horse racing, players will place sums of money on the betting favorite to win the race, because these types of bets provide exceptional value.

Place bets: A place bet is used to consider a 1st or 2nd place finish on a specific horse. If the horse that you placed money on finishes in one of these positions, you will win the bet. If the horse finishes 3rd or worse, the bet is lost. The payout is smaller for place bets than win bets, but the odds of winning are much greater as well.

Show bets: A show bet is used for a top three finish. If the horse that you place money finishes in the top three, the bet is one. Like before, if the horse finishes 4th or worst, the bet is lost. The payout is even smaller here than place and win bets, but the odds of winning are significantly better.

Horse betting is a very exciting way of wagering money and enjoying the experience. With today’s lesson on the basics of horse racing, you can begin to become a knowledgeable better. Like I said earlier, future blog posts will be coming out to explain horse racing in even greater detail.

Good luck, and make sure you pick a good horse!

Check out my website for more content relating to horses, sports betting, and more!




Jeff Perkins

I enjoy sports, gambling, finance, and things that affect young people.