How is the Show Pool Paid in Horse Racing?

The best and worst thing about betting on horse racing is the fact that if you are at the track, you are wagering against all the other bettors and not the house like you would in a casino. Sure, the track takes their slice of the pie, but if you can learn how to handicap the horses and not just bet on your kid's birthday or the horse whose name is your great aunt, you can possibly win some really nice money. The three most popular bets are the Win, Place, and Show Bets. Today we will be highlighting what a Show bet is and how the pool is paid.

A show bet is betting on a horse to come in one of the top three positions in a given race. Betters get a positive payout if the horse they bet comes in either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. The payout is smaller than a Win bet, betting a horse to only win and even smaller than the place bet, betting on a horse to come in first or second. Why is the payout smaller? Well, you are paying out for all three horses, which people could have wagered on.

Is the show bet a great way to make a lot of money? It depends on what you define as a lot of money. If the bet pays, at some tracks, the minimum the bet pays on a $2 wager is $2.10 and other's $2.20. That is either a 5% or 10% return on your money.

Betting heavy favorites to show in short fields at very low odds is a fun way to be safe and make a little money. Maybe not enough to pay for all the beers you had, but still enough to call yourself a winner at the end of the day. But if you are wagering $200, you can win $10 or $20 per race on a favorite.

Betting to show is a practical bet if you also feel like there is no clear favorite or if a horse you fancy is at 10/1 or more in the Win Pool. This can lead to much larger payouts. A nice thing about these show bets is that how much being wagered is made available on the big board, and you can see how much is being bet on which horse before you make your decision. This means you can get an idea of how much you'd win by doing some basic math.

Be aware, though, a ton of money comes in right before the race is bet by players called sharps, who are looking to take advantage of gaps in the odds of several pools.

Let's now talk about how we get to the payouts.

Figure out how much the track is taking out of the pool. Some tracks are as little as 10%, while some are as much as 25%. Let's assume 10% for this scenario. You bet $2 on the #1 horse to show. There are six horses in the race.

$50,000 wagered in the show pool. 10% out of the pool. So let's take $5,000 out for the track. The pool is now $45,000.

  • Horse #1 came in first and had $10,000 wagered to show. You Won!
  • Horse #2 came in second and had $10,000 wagered to show.
  • Horse #3 came in third and had $2,500 wagered to show.

$45,000 was the pool. $22,500 was placed on the three horses total.

45,000-22,500= 22,500.

Now divide that by the three winners as they all hit the show pool. 22,500/3=$7,500.

Now take the amount wagered and divide by that total for each horse. For our horse: $7,500/$10,000 = .75

Then take .75 and multiply it by your bet ($2). $1.50. That is your profit. A $2 win bet nets you $3.50. It's not a lot of money, but hey, you are a Winner!

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