Betting on horse races is one of the oldest forms of gambling, and today, many people still seem to enjoy watching and wagering on such events mainly because of its straightforwardness and the building anticipation, which keeps them on the edge of their seats. Frequently, punters are confident that they know their stuff and are sure of their picks, but things do not come out as they planned, which causes them to lose money more often than they want.

In order for gambling enthusiasts to make sure that they will walk out with cash in their pocket, they should get the knack of placing bets on the sport, which requires some effort. Naturally, everybody wants to consistently place winning bets, but what many punters tend to overlook is that they do not know what odds actually tell them.

Properly reading odds and calculating the payouts is a must for punters if they want to make informed decisions and maximize their winnings. If you want to be satisfied that you have the required knowledge to get off to a good start with your horse racing betting session, this article will fill the bill.

Odds and Win Expectations

While watching horse races, gambling enthusiasts will get to see that there are certain numbers next to the horses’ name or number while watching the race on their TVs or on the tote board track. These are the odds of each horse that will compete in the race, and knowing what these numbers are telling is a must for gambling enthusiasts who are looking to make some money.

Before they dive into placing real-money bets on horse races, punters should learn the ins and outs of odds because these numbers can be used to determine which are the most chosen horses in the race. Additionally, since the odds govern the payouts gambling aficionados will possibly collect, inspecting them prior to making their decisions is something they should not forget to do.

An important thing many punters tend to overlook is that horse racing odds do not equal the likelihood of winning, which is to say that they should not view the numbers bookmakers introduce as an expression of the horse’s chances to win the race. Gambling enthusiasts should remember that although the way the horse’s skill measures up to the other runners and the betting odds are interconnected, they should also take into account the fact that the public sentiment also has an impact on their value.

In order for punters to enjoy a successful betting session, they should learn how to spot gaps between reality and what oddsmakers consider.

What Do Horse Racing Odds Mean

As it turns out, many gambling enthusiasts are unaware that odds are used to indicate the relationship between reward and risk, meaning that they show the prices and payouts at the racetrack.

Punters should keep in mind that when pari-mutual betting is concerned, the payouts they will potentially collect will be determined by the number of punters who have placed bets on the race and how much money they have staked. This is not the case with traditional odds, and one of the main reasons why punters prefer using them is that they can see what their potential returns will be and the probability of winning in advance. Let’s dive into the topic to ensure that punters will be able to start wagering on horse races on the right foot.

Traditional Odds in Betting on Horse Racing

If gambling enthusiasts take a look at the odds a sports betting platform has introduced for the race they want to have a flutter on, they will stand no chance to figure out what does it mean that a horse is listed 7-2 or that the mutual payoff amount is $2,000, for example.

Fortunately, gaining a good understanding of the way horse racing betting works is unlikely to be difficult to achieve. In simple terms, the horse racing odds will indicate what amount gambling aficionados will bid fair to collect if their pick is correct. The odds will reflect how much money are staked on each horse, the shorter the odds are, the more money the market has attracted.

While betting on horse races, sports bettors will see that oftentimes, odds are introduced in the form 6-5, 4-1, 1-9, and so on. These values indicate the ratio between the potential profit of punters and the amount they have put at a stake. Thus, if punters place a bet at odds of 6-5, they should expect to get a profit of $6 for every $5 they put at a stake, which makes for a total return of $11. Similarly, if the odds are 1-2, punters will stand the chance to collect $1 for every $2 they wager. Thus, the total return of such a bet will be $3.

The formula gambling enthusiasts need to use in order to work out their potential returns looks like this:

  • Staked amount x the odds value
  • $2 x 30/1 ₌ $62 (including the staked amount)

Yet, the calculations gambling enthusiasts will be required to make in order to work out their potential returns might seem more complicated on the occasions when the odds are not whole numbers, which will be the case with odds of 3-4, for example. In such cases, punters will be required to use the following formula:

(staked amount x first number) / second number ₌ net profit

If we suppose that punters want to stake $10 at these odds, the equation will look like this:
($10 x4) / 5 ₌ $8

An important thing punters should remember about fixed-odds betting is that if they win, they will get a payout based on the price they have agreed on. In other words, if the horse punters want to place a bet on is priced at 5-1 at the time when they make their bet, the payout they will collect will be determined by the odds at the time when they submit their wager and the staked amount no matter how the odds shift later in the day. This does not apply to pari-mutuel betting, and there will be no certainty on how much gambling aficionados will pocket until the end of the race.

How Are Pari-Mutuel Payoffs Calculated

Pari-mutual betting, or pool betting as it is also known, is a unique form of placing bets on various sports, horse racing included. With this form of betting, punters will not place their wagers against the bookmaker but against other gambling enthusiasts who have decided to have a flutter on the same race. Thus, the payouts gambling aficionados will collect will be determined after the horse that has won the race is announced.

Thus, all bets the race has attracted will go into a pool, which is then divided between all punters who have made correct picks. It goes without saying that the private company or organization which provides such betting services will retain a certain portion of the amount the pool contains.

As it seems, this is one of the most widely available forms of gambling around the globe, and it is normally associated with wagering on greyhounds and horse races. That being said, pari-mutuel betting can be offered for other sports as well, and the only requirement for it to do the trick is that, ultimately, the contenders should be in rank order.

Considering the fact that no odds are introduced while sticking to this form of betting on horse races, punters will not be able to apply any betting system or strategy to attempt to improve their performance. In addition to this, it will be far more challenging for gambling enthusiasts to determine whether they have found a betting opportunity which offers value or not.

Let’s suppose that punters want to give pari-mutuel betting a shot, and the house has taken in the following amounts:

HorsesStaked amount
Horse # 1$100.00
Horse # 2$200.00
Horse # 3$100.00
Horse # 4$400.00
Horse #5$300.00

When we add these sums together, we will get that the pool contains $1,100. If we suppose that the portion the house will collect is $100, the amount which remains in the betting pool will be $1,000. Now, in order to work out the potential payouts, we need to divide the remaining amount in the pool by the staked amounts. Thus, if we suppose that gambling enthusiasts have placed a bet on horse number four, the offered payouts will be $2,5. Therefore, for every $1 punters put at a stake, they will be offered $2,5.

As punters will see, the payouts they can possibly get will differ considerably between the horses that will take part in this race. In simple terms, the amount the house will pay out will be the same, but the returns gambling aficionados will stand the chance to collect for every $1 they wager will vary based on the total amount, which is staked on each selection. The larger this amount is, the smaller the offered payouts for every $1 punters stake will be.

There are several types of pari-mutuel wagers gambling aficionados can select from, and some of these include place, show, across-the-board, exacta, trifecta, any 2, and each-way wagers, among others.

Other Formats in which Horse Racing Odds Are Introduced

While placing their wagers over the Internet, gambling enthusiasts will come across betting platforms where the decimal odds are used. Reading decimal odds is exceptionally simple, and while using this format, punters will figure out what amount they will possibly collect in relation to the staked amount.

In order to figure out what their potential returns will be, gambling enthusiasts need to multiply the amount they want to stake by the odds value. The formula they need to use looks like this:

Bet amount x decimal odds ₌ potential returns (including the original stake)

Punters should be aware that, while using the decimal odds format, even money odds are displayed like 2.00. Therefore, if punters stake $10 on the horse they prefer, and the odds are 2.00, their potential returns will be $20, $10 profit and $10 the original bet amount.

An important thing gambling enthusiasts should keep in mind is that decimal and fractional horse racing odds do not translate perfectly. Punters should not be fooled that 5.00 and 5/1 translate into the same payouts as this is not the case. Staking $100 at odds of 5.00 means that sports bettors can collect a payout of $500, in which the original bet amount of $100 is included.

Yet, staking the same amount at odds of 5 to 1 means that the net profit gambling aficionados can possibly get will be $500, meaning that their total returns will be $600 if the original bet amount is included.

How to Calculate the Probability of Winning

As we explained already, traditional odds allow gambling aficionados to figure out how much a winning bet will bring them before they have put their funds at a stake. In addition to this, while using traditional odds, punters will be able to figure out what percentage chance oddsmakers give to the horse they want to place a bet on.

In order for gambling aficionados to work this percentage out, they need to divide 100 by the odds the horse race betting platform has introduced. Thus, if we assume that the odds are 5-1, the chance of success will be around 17%. The higher the percentage is, the greater the likelihood of the event occurring will be.

Making this bet might not be a bad decision, but what gambling aficionados should bear in mind is that the total number of contestants in the race matters as well. Additionally, punters should not get carried away by the chances of success of the wagers they make because the chances of losing are something to consider as well. Because of this, it is a must to keep your stakes sensible and attempt to hold the math on your side every step of the way.

While wagering on horse races or any other sport, punters will use this formula in order to work out the likelihood of an outcome happening based on what odds suggest. As we explained earlier, betting odds are not an accurate representation of the real probability of an event occurring. Even though these values might be pretty close, gambling aficionados should not forget about the built-in commission of the betting platform. Yet, this is not to say that oddsmakers cannot make mistakes and introduce odds that are higher than they should be.

Calculating the probability of winning the wagers they make is advisable if gambling enthusiasts are looking for betting opportunities that offer value. Thus, in order for punters to get value for the wagers they make, they should look for bookmakers that offer higher odds than the ones they expect to see. In order for punters to figure out what the expected value of their wagers is, they should first work out the overall probability of winning, which in our case is 17%. This means that punters will lose 17% of the time they place a bet on that horse. If punters want to work out the expected value of their wager, they should use the following formula:

(probability of winning x amount a winning bet will return) – (probability of losing x bet amount)

If the expected value is negative, this means that eventually, this bet will cause them to lose money. If the expected value of the wager is zero, this means that gambling aficionados have found odds that are an accurate reflection of real probability. In order for punters to ensure that they will win money over the long run, they should always be on the lookout for wagers that have positive value.

It is important to note that consistently finding and capitalizing on such opportunities will not always be possible simply because value is rather subjective. This means that punters will win only if their perception is correct, and sometimes, even if they are convinced that a bet offers value, this will not necessarily be the case because there are quite a bit of variables they need to assess.

This will not be the case with pari-mutuel wagering because payouts are essentially dictated by punters since what matters is the amount of money the pool contains, as well as how much money is staked on each horse.

Common Horse Racing Betting Payouts

Punters should bear in mind that at most horse race tracks and online betting platforms, there is a bare minimum of the amount they will be allowed to put at a stake. On most occasions, the least amount gambling enthusiasts will be allowed to bet is $2, but is not excluded to see betting sites where staking as little as $1 is also an option.

OddsPayouts for a minimum bet of $1Payouts for a minimum bet of $2

How to Read Horse Racing Odds

  1. What Are Morning Line Odds – before the race punters have decided to bet on starts, they will get to see the morning line odds. These are the odds that are included in the race program and are introduced by the track’s handicapper. Please note that the morning line odds will be made available before the betting action starts. Yet, most punters prefer not to go for morning line odds because they alter significantly because of the greater betting action.
  2. Favorites – It goes without saying that there is invariably a favorite to win the race, and if it happens that there are two horses are odds-on favorites, they will be displayed with JF, which stands for joint favorites.
  3. Changing Odds – No matter if punters will place their bets over the Internet or at the track, they will see how odds change all the time. One of the main causes for these changes is the betting action the horses attract.
  4. Probability – No matter which odds format punters prefer to use, they should learn how to translate prices into probability. Thus, they will be able to figure out how likely their bet to work out is. Doing this is a must also because by calculating probabilities, gambling enthusiasts will be able to find betting opportunities that offer value.

Which Horse Race Bets Offer the Best Odds

If getting handsome wins is the goal punters have set, they should be satisfied that they know the ropes about the various bet types. There is a varied choice of bet types for gambling aficionados to decide between, and while some wager types are made on just one horse and race, others involve making correct picks about six races, which is to say that the risk also increases.

Bet typeOdds of winning
Show betVery high probability of winning
Place betHigh probability of winning
Win betMedium difficulty
ExactaChallenging to win
TrifectaVery challenging to win
SuperfectaExtremely challenging to win
Daily DoubleHard to win
Pick 3Challenging to win
Pick 4Extremely challenging to win
Pick 6Making a correct pick is nearly impossible is a media website dedicated to sports news and reviews of the most popular sports betting sites. Here you will find comprehensive guides on where to bet on football, tennis, NBA, NFL and information about the most popular betting deposit methods.