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Traditional Types of Horse Racing Bets – Straight Bets

Types of Horse Racing Bets
Brand new to horse racing betting? Betting on the ponies is not only fun, but you can win a lot of money if you’re sharp and you know how to pick winners. In this guide, we want to focus on some of the basics to get you started if you’re brand new. Specifically, we’re going to be looking at straight bets which are your basic type of horse racing bet. If you’re looking for the exotic bets, we have a link at the bottom of the guide to our page where we break all of those down for you as well.

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The win bet in horse racing is exactly what you probably already think it is. This is a bet on a particular horse to win the race. If the horse you pick comes in first place, you win your bet. If that horse comes in any other place, you lose your bet. It’s really that simple.

When you make a win bet on a particular race, you will see varying odds on each horse based on the likelihood that horse is to win the race and the betting money that has come in so far. The initial line that is released will be what the sportsbook thinks is the likelihood of that horse winning. After that, the lines will move based on what the public chooses to bet on. If everyone is betting on a particular horse, the odds on a win will get worse on that horse to try and slow the action. The odds on the other horses will increase to try and encourage action on them. The whole point is that the sportsbook wants to have balanced action on all of the horses.

As is the case with any sports bet, you should expect to get paid more money the less likely a particular horse is expected to win.


The place bet in horse racing is quite similar to the win bet. Again, you will be selecting one horse, but now the horse only has to come in first or second for you to win your bet. It does not matter how the horse wins or by how many lengths. As long as they are in first or second when they cross the finish line, you will win your place bet.

It’s important to point out that you do not get paid anything extra for your horse getting first instead of second. The payouts you will receive will be exactly the same regardless of which of the two positions they finish in. As this is easier for a horse to pull off, you can expect to get paid slightly worse than you would if you just made a win bet. But, you can now still win your bet if the horse finishes second which is not the case with the win bet.


The show bet is the last of the big three wagers and again is quite similar to the win and place bets. With the show bet, you are again selecting one horse, but now you can win your bet as long as the horse you picked comes in first, second, or third place. As long as they make it in onto the podium, your show bet is going to be a winner.

Again, you do not get paid anything extra if the horse finishes in second or first instead of third. The payouts are the exact same. As the show bet is even easier to win than the place bet and the win bet, you can expect to be paid less than the place bet and even less than the win bet. But, the bet does become that much easier to win as your horse only needs to secure one of the top three spots for you to claim a victory.

Across the Board

The across the board bet is not technically a bet, but it’s actually three individual bets all rolled into one. When you choose to bet a horse across the board, you are actually placing a win, place, and show bet on that particular horse. So, if the horse ends up winning the race, you’re going to win all three bets. If the horse takes second place, you will lose the win bet, but you will still win the place and show bet. If the horse gets third place, you will win the show bet and lose the place and win bets. If the horse finishes in fourth or worse, you win none of your bets.

Exotic Bets

The bets we’ve covered here today are known as straight bets in horse racing. But, these are not all of the bets that you have at your disposal when you’re at the track or betting online. There is a group of bets known as exotics that are quite popular among horse racing bettors around the world. If you’d like to learn about these bets, take a minute and check out our Exotic Horse Racing Bets page for all of that information.