You can gamble on almost anything these days, including politics, entertainment, and even the weather. But when it comes to sheer excitement – and the potential to win big – nothing comes close to touching the allure of horse racing. And if you want to learn how to increase your odds of winning a few bucks at the racetrack, we’ve got you covered.
4 Tips to Increase Your Odds of Winning
Let’s be clear about one thing upfront: There is no secret technique that will guarantee success. Horse betting is partially luck and partially an art form. We can’t do anything about luck, but here are some tips to help you on the technique side of things:
- Stick With Straight Wagers
There are generally two categories of waters: straight and exotic. As a beginner, it’s a lot easier to just focus on a few straight wager bets. They’re simple, inexpensive, and easy to follow.
“Each horse in the race will be assigned odds to win,” Hollywood Casino of Perryville explains. “For example, if you place a $2 Win bet, and your horse’s assigned odds are 20:1, if your horse wins, you will win $40 plus your $2 bet, for a payout of $42. However, these odds may be adjusted for different types of bets.”
With a straight bet, there are typically three different outcomes you can gamble on:
- Win. For a horse to win, you get the posted odds. These odds are going to be high, because this is the most difficult outcome.
- Place. For a horse to place, it must come in first or second place. Because this is slightly easier than a straight bet to win, the odds are a little lower. (Meaning smaller potential payout.)
- Show. For a horse to show, it simply has to come in first, second, or third place. The odds on a show bet are significantly lower than a win bet, but your chances of winning are also much greater.
There are different ways to bet these outcomes. You can do a straight bet for a horse to win, for example. Or you can bet all three. If you bet all three options for a horse and the horse wins, you would cash in on the show bet, place bet, and win bet.
- Prepare Ahead of Time
Don’t be the guy or gal that shows up to the track and just places bets based on the color or name of the horse. It’s important to do some preparation ahead of time. You can either do your own research (there’s usually plenty of data available) or pay for a handicapping service that will provide suggestions for you. Either way, research brings the riches!
- Consider Conditions
In horse racing, conditions are everything. Some horses run well on dirt, while others prefer turf. Some horses have experience in muddy/rainy conditions, while others would much prefer a dry track. The more you do your research, the more you’ll understand how the current conditions will impact the outcome. (Then you can adjust the odds in your head and find the value bets.)
- Strike Up Conversation
Horse betting is a community. It’s a ragtag bunch of people from all backgrounds of life. You’ll have millionaires at a track, as well as people who are on their last dollar. But that’s what makes it beautiful. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with someone who looks like they know what they’re doing. You might just learn a thing or two from one of these seasoned vets!
Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
One of the worst things that can happen to a new horse bettor is to win big. If you win big on one of your first couple of races, your brain will associate gambling with high returns. You’ll also think it’s easier than it really is. As frustrating as it is to lose, a few low-cost swings and misses will do you well.
The key to successful betting is to set your limits and take your lumps. Never chase losses and always know when to draw the line. Horse betting is harmless and fun – a form of adrenaline-inducing entertainment – but it can easily become a fixation. By remaining disciplined, you can ensure it lands on the innocent side of the spectrum.