How to Calculate the Payoff on a Win Bet in Horse Racing?

Are you sick of getting 1 to 1 odds on your sports bets, or even worse, laying ridiculous vigs on sports bets? What's the fun in being right and getting only 90% back on wins? Are you looking for another outlet where with a little research, you can start to make winners at bigger odds than 1 to 1?

Welcome to the joys of horse racing! The simplest bet in horse racing is the Win bet. We're here today to cover how much you'll know you can make betting into the Win Pool.

The nice thing about horse racing is that you are not betting against a house or a casino. The racetrack does take out a certain percentage of every pool in order to pay out the prize pools to the actual horses running, as well as to pay their employees and stay afloat. Most of the time, the takeout is only 10-15%. Some tracks do get greedy, however, and take out up to 30%.

So if you aren't betting against the casino, who are you betting against? You are betting against everyone else at the track. Normal people like you and me.

This type of wagering is called pari-mutual racing and is the reason payouts can be much higher than an average casino or sports bet. You can calculate the odds of the win pool by following the tote board and doing some basic math.

All odds for horse racing are listed as fractions, and some are easier than others. Most horses are simply listed as 5-1 or 10-1. Here we look at the second number in the fraction. The 1 equals $1. For every $1, you'll win $5. So that is $5 plus your initial investment of $1, which equals a total of $6. The minimum win wager in almost all jurisdictions is $2, so in the above example, $2 at 5/1 would pay a total of $12.

Here's where it can get complicated, however. Some odds can be listed differently and in payouts under even money. Some examples are 1/5, 3/5, 1/9. These are heavily favored horses, and the math works the same as above, multiplied by $2. A 1/5 horse means you're betting $2 to win a grand total of $2.40. A $2 bet on 1/9 would return $2.20. A $2 bet on 3/5 would net you $3.20.   

The trackmaster at each racetrack posts morning line odds available in the program of what they expect the odds to be, come post time. Those odds, at times, are spot on. Other times they can move in different directions. One thing for sure is, whoever seems to be the favorite, odds are that price will go down in odds for that horse. Everyone wants a winner, and the easiest way to find that winner is to bet on the one with the lowest odds.

The only problem with calculating the odds is the fact that they constantly change up until the race goes off. When you bet your horse, you don't get them at the odds you bet them at. A ton of heavy bets come in at the last minute. It's important to see and watch the tote board that lists all the odds.

Sometimes this can work in your favor, and sometimes it can work against you. The most infuriating thing, however, is tracks who are slow to post these changes. You bet on a horse at 12/1, and by the time they show your horse running down the stretch, he's 7/1. Nothing is more brutal, but sometimes the odds go up, and you are much happier.

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