Win, Place and Show Betting Basics

Horse Racing Radar
Rich Bieglmeier
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Horse Racing Betting Basics for Beginners - Win, Place, Show

Betting on a horse to win is one of the most popular wagers for horseplayers. It's as straight forward as it sounds. To win the win bet, your horse has to win. Win payouts are based on $2 bets. Calculating how much you can win is easy. Takes the odds, multiply it by two and then add $2.
For example, if your horse has odds of 5-1, you'll receive at least $12 if it wins. Here is the math.
Odds 5-1: you take the odds of 5/1 = 5; then you multiple 5 by 2, which equals 10, and now you add in the $2 used in the bet, 10+2 = $12.

This is horse racing lingo for finishing second. To win a place bet, your horse has to finish first or second. How much you can win is more complicated than win bets as its determined by the number of winning tickets divided by the money in the place pool. The important thing to know is that place bets pay less than win bets and the payout is the same whether the horse finishes first or second. 

Again, more lingo. Show is another way to say third place. To win show money, your horse has to finish first, second or third. Just like place betting, payouts are determined by the number of winning tickets and money in in the show pool. The payout is the same if the horse wins, places or shows. Show betting has the highest probability of winning but also the lowest payout i.e. lower risk and lower reward.  

How to "pick" Winners (place and show horses).
Of course, wagering on horses is gambling and there are no systems that always pick the winner. You could lose money. 

Pro Picks:
One of the more popular ways to "find" winners is to use professional handicapping sites like Guaranteed Tip Sheet. They select the winner for every race and highlight their top choices as Best Bets. 

The Favorite:
The horse with the lowest odds when the race starts is called the favorite. The favorite wins at roughly 30%. However, the favorite also offers horseplayers the lowest payouts. Despite the high win rate, studies show that betting favorites is not a profitable strategy over the long haul. Something that wins at 30% needs odds of roughly 9/5 or higher to generate a positive return on investment over time. If betting favorites is your thing, try to limit it to horses with odds of at least 9/5, maybe 2-1 and up. 

The Highest, Last Race Speed Figure:
Most past performance sheets/guides include a speed figure for each horse's past races. It's a measuring stick used to compare horses' performances at different distances/tracks/conditions... It's not perfect, but a useful tool. Like the favorite, the horse that scored the highest, last race speed figure wins approximately 30% of the time. 

Morning Line Favorite Overlays:
Oddsmakers set what are called morning line odds. These are the odds that you see in programs and past performance guides. The horse with the lowest odds in the program is called the morning line favorite.  Many times, the race time favorite and the morning line favorite are not the same. An overlay is a horse with odds that are higher at race time than they are in the program. For example, if the oddsmaker gives the morning line favorite odds of 2-1, it's an overlay if the odds rise above 2-1, say 5/2 and higher.

Get today's full picks for all tracks and races at Guaranteed Tip Sheet.