Millions of horse racing fans around the world will be betting on the races this year. Betting on horse racing can be both fun and profitable, if you know what you’re doing. From straight wagers to more profitable exotics, there are a number of different types of bets you can make.

If you’re looking for a quick, easy and comprehensive way to learn the basics of horse betting, you’re in the right place.
 

For the Win

When you bet on horse racing, you'll be using the pari-mutuel betting system. This just means that you'll be competing against other bettors, not against the house. All the money wagered goes into a pool and gets distributed to the winners, with the bookies keeping a small percentage as a handling fee – much like any other financial transaction.

The most basic bets are the ones you're probably familiar with: Win, Place, and Show. A Win bet is where you simply bet on a horse to win. A Place bet is for a horse to finish in the top two, and a Show bet is for a result anywhere in the top three. The payouts get smaller as you go down the list, but the risk is also smaller.

For bigger payouts, you can bet on more than one horse at the same time. The Exacta bet asks you to pick which horses will finish first and second, in that order. The Trifecta is for first, second and third, and the Superfecta is for first, second, third and fourth. It's rare to win a Superfecta bet, but if you do, the payouts are enormous. The Superfecta paid out at over 600/1 at last year's Kentucky Derby.
 

They're at the Post

There are two different ways you can place these bets when you go online. For big races like the Triple Crown events, odds will be posted on the futures market. For other graded stakes races (like the Santa Anita Derby and the Wood Memorial), odds are posted two days before the event. Daily races are also available at dozens of tracks around the world, for thoroughbreds, quarter horses and harness racing; you can place your bets all the way up until the official post time.

Once the race is complete and the results have been processed (which should take about 10 to 25 minutes), you can click or tap on “Results” to view your payout. The numbers you see will be based on a standard $2 bet. For example, American Pharoah paid out at $7.80 to win the 2015 Kentucky Derby. He also paid out at $5.80 to place and $4.20 to show. Just divide those numbers by two and multiply by your original bet to see how much you've won – or look at your cash statement once it's available.

To find out more about how to bet on the horses, consult our extensive archive of articles, including our Racebook FAQ and our Racebook Glossary. We also have information on what strategies you can use to improve your chances of cashing in – and it's all there for free, at the click of a mouse or the tap of a finger. As always, bet responsibly, and good luck at the track.