A day at the horse track is a great time. Knowing how to bet properly makes a day at the track even better. The following will outline the most basic bets you can make at the track.

Things You Will Need

Most off-track betting facilities offer $2 dollar straight bets. If you go to the race track it is likely they will offer 5 & 10 cent bets on more exotic wagers. You can have fun betting at the off-track facilities, especially if you go with a group. However, I highly recommend visiting your nearest horse track since the live experience is unmatched in it's excitement.

Basic Bets


The 'win' bet is simply that: a bet to call the winner of the race. You will only win this bet if your horse places first in the race. If you are going to place a 'win' bet I highly recommend you check the odds to make sure the payout will be worth the risk. For instance, if you choose the favorite to win and the horses odds are 2-1 that means you will get $2 or every $1 you bet. If you bet the smallest amount allowed ($2) your payout will only be $4. For the risk, that's really not much of a payout. Win bets will be worth the risk if the odds are a little higher.

To make a 'win' bet at the track you'll need to give the teller this information: race number, horse number, type of bet, amount of bet. For example: "For race 3 I want to bet $2 on horse number 7 to win."

If you are at the off-track betting facility then you will also need to indicate the location (which horse track) of the race.


When you make a 'place' bet you are predicting the chosen horse to come in either first or second place. It's important to remember that odds given are mostly for 'win' bets. If your chosen horse has 7-1 odds and you make a 'place' bet you will not get 7-1 odds if you win. At most racetracks they make the 'place' & 'show' bets visible on the scoreboards. Again, this bet will not pay much when the odds are too good. When I use the 'place' bet, it's typically for horses with longer odds.


Making a 'show' bet means you are predicting the chosen horse to come in either first, second or third. Like the 'place' bet, you need to make sure the odds you get are specifically for a show bet. This bet won't pay much unless your horse has long odds. Most prefer to make this bet for horses they don't totally trust.

A day at the track is a ton of fun. If you fully understand these three basic bets you'll be prepared. Good luck!

Tips & Warnings

Remember to begin betting with small amounts of money to help get an idea of the odds, payouts and chances of winning.

Also, betting on horse races is only meant to be recreational. Very few dedicated professionals throughout the country can count on handicapping horse races as a source of income.