One of the oldest forms of gambling is race betting, in which people wager money on which horse, dog, or other competitor they think will come in first place. Here, we’ll go over the two most common types of race betting.
Race betting is typically split into one of two different betting styles: money line bets, which are much more common in racing, and spread bets. Money line race betting is also known as traditional race betting, and it is fairly straightforward. Bookmakers or online betting sites – listed here – create odds for the different contenders in the race, and post them for gamblers to see. Gamblers then choose a contender based on the odds provided, and put their money down. The money line race betting odds posted for a given horse race might look something like this:
- Black Magic: 14
- Lady Luck: 7
- Seabiscuit: 9
- Secretariat: 17
And so on. Obviously, there will typically be more than four horses in a given race (often about twenty), but for this example it will illustrate our point. Suppose we want to place our bet on Black Magic. The posted odds mean that any bets placed on Black Magic would, in the event that horse wins the race, pay out fourteen to one. So, if we placed ten dollars, we would win one hundred and forty. If we were to place twenty, we would win two hundred and eighty.
Some race betting odds come in fraction form as well, so for example while the above odds for Black Magic are essentially 14:1, you might also see odds like 10:3, which works in much the same way. If you bet on a winning horse with 10:3 odds, you would win ten dollars for every three you bet. Thus, a thirty dollar bet would pay out one hundred dollars.
Spread race betting is somewhat less common. In spread betting, bookmakers estimate what final position a given horse will place in. For example, suppose bookmakers have decided that they think Black Magic is likely to place fourth in the race. The odds would likely be posted as a decimal, so that if Black Magic placed exactly fourth, the bets would not “push,” or neither win nor lose. It would likely look something like this:
Black Magic: 4.5
This means that you would either bet that Black Magic would place fourth or better, or that Black Magic would place fifth or worse. Spread bets are designed so that, in the bookmaker’s opinion, a bet on either side has a roughly fifty percent chance of winning. This is similar to spread betting in sports, in which an underdog is given a handicap. Race betting can be an exciting and, if you are lucky, quite lucrative hobby. Even if your goal is not to win money, spending a day at the horse races can be a tremendous amount of fun.