The Each Way Bet & Other Popular Horse Racing Bet Types Explained
In principle, horse racing is a straight-forward start to finish race. You wouldn’t, however, be right in assuming that horse racing bet types are equally as straight-forward. Whereas the most basic bet types only require you to guess which horses will finish in the top three positions, there are a number of more complex wager types, which allow you to experiment with the order of the finishing positions, and several more where you can enter into betting pools with other punters and the total winnings are shared. The good news is that we’ve compiled clear-cut explanations of all the most commonly used bet types in the sections below, along with user-friendly guidelines on how, and when to use them. From basic straight bets, exotics wagers, each way betting and everything else in-between, keep reading down below to see all the different horse racing bet types explained.
Horse Racing Bet Types Explained
Due to the nature of the sport – as well as the absence of in-play betting – there are considerably less types of bets for horse racing than there are for other sports. It is important that you study each of them properly and gain a firm understanding of how to use them so that when the time comes, you’ll be able to place bets with total assurance. Starting with the each-way bet, we will begin to fill you in on the basics. Alternatively, if you’d like to check out the pay-out prices offered by the bookmakers just in case one or two of your bet types comes good, head over to the main page take a look at the odds price listings.
The Each Way Bet
The each-way bet is one of the most common types of wagers used in horse racing. It is a bet made up of two parts: the ‘Win’ part and the ‘Place’ part. Both parts are of equal value and you see a return on your bet if your selections wins, but also if it places (finishes in positions 1, 2,3,4 or sometimes 5 in really big races or races with a bookmaker’s special offer).
Example: Say, for instance, you have a strong inkling that a horse will do well in race; you could place an each way bet of £12 (£24 total) on the horse. If the win price is 12/1, you’ll be paid out £144 if the horse wins. However if the horse finishes second or third then the bookmaker will pay out only a fraction of the win price offering. These pay out prices are agreed when you place your bet and are normally either a 1/2, 1/3, 1/4 of a 1/5. Firstly, the original £12 stake on the win part of the bet is lost. Let’s say for argument’s sake that the agreed fractional price offering for the each way part was 1/4, 12/1 divided by 4 = 4/1. So £12 at 4/1 = £48. If the agreed price was 1/2 (which would be a very generous offer) then the pay out would be 12/1 divided by 2 = 6/1. So £12 at 6/1 = £72.
Strategy: The each way bet type is best used when you’re not looking to back the favourite in a race. This is because the odds price offering on the favourite in an each way bet isn’t normally so high, you should only really opt for the each way bet when the odds are equal to, or greater than 2/1, otherwise it’s probably worth your while backing the favourite. A good time to think about using this bet is when you’re unsure if the selection you have in mind will the race, but you have a good feeling that they’ll be able to place. You could also think backing a horse with an outside chance of winning i.e. a horse that’s showing long odds. This way if the horse does actually end up finishing well the pay out price for the place bet would be considerable.
Straight Bets are the simplest of horse racing wagers and are, very often, the go-to bet-type for beginners. They require less risk, less experience and skill, less funds, and are generally far easier to secure a return. Although you may feel tempted to start experimenting with some of the more exotic wagers right from the off, at this stage we advise sticking with straight wagers where you only bet on one horse and things are kept nice and simple.
The Win Bet
A ‘Win’ bet is when you place a bet on a horse to finish first in a race. If your horse finishes first the bet is a winner. If not, the bet loses.
The Place Bet
Here you’re betting on your selection to finish first or second. You only see a return if the selection crosses the line in one of these positions. Pay-out prices here are generally lower than a win bet.
The Show Bet
A show bet is when you wager on a horse to finish in positions one two or three. Since the chances of winning are higher for this type of wager the pay-out prices are considerably lower than a win or a place bet.
Across the Board
An across the board wager is a combination of the win, place and show bet. If your selection finishes first you collect on the win, the place and the show. If it finishes second you collect on the place and the show. If it finishes third you only collect on the show bet.
Example: When you bet across the board the first thing to bear in mind is that you are placing three individual bets. If, for example, you wanted to place a bet of £5, the separate win, place and show bets would set you back £15. So, if your selection was to win, and say the odds were 10/1, then you’ll be paid out £50 if the horse won. If the selection came second, and the odds price offering for the place bet was 4/1, you’d receive £20. If the selection came third, and the odds price offering was 2/1, you could only collect on the show, winning £10.
Strategy: You can think of across the board betting as a “playing it safe” type of wager. By placing a bet on a horse to win, place and show, you cover all the top three finishing spots, however it’s rare that these types of bets produce any great value, especially if you’re betting on a horse that’s showing good odds. Adding to this, across the board bets can get quite pricey; an across the board bet of £10 would actually be £30 as it three bets combined. The optimal time to go for this bet type is when your handicapping points toward an outside competitor. If the odds price matches your hunch i.e. the horse is showing particularly long odds then the across the board bet might be a good option. In most cases though, we would advise staying clear as if you’re not careful, it can be difficult to ensure that you break even, let alone turn over a profit.
Bets where you combine multiple selections into a single bet are known as ‘Exotic Wagers’. They can reap huge profits, although they do require a more strategic approach and considerably more know-how. Exotic wagers are typically used by more experienced punters with a more sizeable bankroll as they can, very often, require you to lay out a fair sum of money in order to guarantee a profit.
The Tricast Bet
A tricast Bet (sometimes referred to as a trifecta) is where you bet on three horses that you think will finish in first, second and third position in an exact order. This can become pricey if you use several horses, however pay-outs are sizeable if the selections come good.
The Reverse Tricast
A reverse tricast, sometimes referred to as a combination tricast, is a variation of a tricast bet where you wager on which horses you think will reach home in first, second and third in any order. This will increase the cost of your bet significantly as you are covering several different combinations, each of which is considered as a separate bet.
Example: The cost of a reverse tricast is normally a little pricier than a normal tricast. This is because with a tricast you are only multiplying the number of selection for each placing, so a bet of £2 would be £6. However with a reverse trifector, there are 6 different winning outcomes, therefore the bet would cost £12. Box trifectors can be broken down as follows:
Strategy: Unlike a tricast bet where it’s possible to win a large some of money from just a small stake, reverse trifectors require you invest a fair amount of money from the outset. They are useful as they don’t require too much brain power and payouts can be sizeable, however by making the bet easier to win you can find that you end up wasting money. If you do choose to opt for a combination tricast rather than a normal tricast, try to make it so that there are two favourites that you think are set to have a bad day and will finish out of the money, or if you’re unsure on a race it may be better to simply pass. The process of paying for multiple combinations just so you can cash in on a bet so it feels like a win is a bad method in the long run.
The Forecast Bet
A Forecast bet is when you wager on which horses you think will cross the finish line in the first and second positions in that an order. You will only receive a payout if your chosen selections finish in the correct order. Much like tricast bets, pay-outs here can be sizeable, especially if the horses are showing good odds.
The Reverse Forecast
A reverse forecast bet – or combination forecast as it is sometimes called – allows you to wager on which horses you think will finish in first and second in an exact order. This means that provided your selections finish in those top two spots, you will see a return.
First Four / Superfecta
A first four bet (also sometimes referred to as a Superfecta) is an extension of the forecast and tricast bets. Here you are required to pick the horses you think will finish in first, second, third and fourth in an exact order. Superfectas obviously have particularly long odds, however when they do come good, the payouts are substantial.
Example: Whereas the previous minimum wager for a superfecta used to be set at £1, most bookmakers nowadays will allow you to make wagers of just 50p, or sometimes even less. For a straight superfecta bet you would select four or more horses in the race and wager on them to win, place, show or come in 4th place. So if, for instance, you decided to wager 50p, the total cost of the bet would be £3, and the superfecta would look something like this: 4,8,5,12, with the numbers representing the number of the horse in the race). If the horses finished in any order other than this the bet would be a failure.
Strategy: Unless you are an absolute expert at handicapping or you are able to see into the future, picking the first four finishing places in the exact order is one of the longest of long shots. There’s no real strategy that can be adopted here; you could opt for a reverse superfecta, which would mean that you cover more outcomes, but this would be a strain on your bankroll as there are so many different possibilites. When you place a straight superecta you are aware of the fact that the chances of your bet coming good are extremely slim. All you can really do here is handicap the horses to the best of your ability and hope that your bet comes good. If you’d like to get some more tips on some of the more well-known betting strategies and how to use them, head over to our special strategy page.
Reverse First Four
First four bets can be reversed at a considerably lower cost than their tricast, or forecast counterparts. Some bookmakers have been known to set the minimum bet amount as low as 10 or 20p, meaning that you can cover a number of outcomes at not too great a cost, making them a popular choice among casual punters.
Tote bets differ somewhat from the more traditional bets placed with a bookmaker. Rather than the bookmaker calculating the probability of each competitor winning a race and then offering you an odds price, a tote bet places you into a pool with other punters where all the wagered money is combined and then shared amongst the winners – much like a lottery or jackpot type competition – and the odds prices are determined by the number of participants that back the selection. The general rule is: the more people that enter in the pool, the lesser the percentage of the overall winnings you receive if you are successful.
Due to the widespread appeal of tote betting in horse racing, all the top betting sites offer you the chance to enter into pool bets even if they don’t offer similar services for other sports. Additionally, they will almost always operate separate pools for straight and exotic wagers.