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Determining Your Winnings

Horse race betting can be very confusing if you do not know how to read the odds. With parimutuel betting this is made even more complicated with how often the odds can change before post time. Part of making a wise betting decision is having a good idea what your expected payouts can be. But how can you tell how much you will win?

Fixed odds vs. Parimutuel Odds

One of the biggest benefits of fixed odds wagering is that from the moment you place your wager you know exactly how much you stand to win. Parimutuel betting has the same type of odds, however as bets are placed the odds change to reflect the bet pools. The more wagers placed on a horse will tip the odds, and the horse with the most bets placed on them to win becomes the favourite, even if they were the longshot.

Betting Pools

These pools hold all of the money wagered on a specific type of bet. For example, Exacta bets and Win bets are in different pools. The size of these pools determine the odds on each horse, which determines the amount paid out for wagers on that horse.

However, not every dollar of these pools goes to payouts. There is a percentage the race track takes out. This can be as high as 20%. This percentage varies, different states and countries have different takeouts. This covers the government tax on that particular race, the racetrack’s profit which goes to track upkeep and wages, and of course to the purse money offered to the winning horses. After all of these are accounted for, the remaining funds are paid out to bettors with winning tickets.

Expected Payout

Bookmaker’s odds are written as fractions. This can be very confusing, and may at first seem like a lot of math is needed to understand what your payout will be. It is actually very easy!

The odds are written in Amount Won/ Amount Wagered format. For example, 3/1 odds means for every $1 bet you will win $3. So if you bet the minimum $2, you will win $6 and your ticket will pay out $8. It is important to remember on a winning ticket you win the expected amount determined by the odds and you get your original bet returned to you.

Not all bets are written with 1 as the denominator. To make things simple and stay with whole numbers, some bets are written over 2, 5 or even 9. Some examples are 7/2, 8/5, and 1/9. These odds are read the same way. With 7/2 odds for every $1 wagered you will win $3.50. So if you wager the minimum $2 you will win $7 and your ticket will pay out $9.

Here is a table of common odds to help understand odds and payouts.

Odds – Total Win Amount
1-9 $2.20
1-5 $2.40
2-5 $2.80
1-2 $3.00
3-5 $3.20
4-5 $3.60
1-1 $4.00 (This is also known as “Even Odds”)
6-5 $4.40
7-5 $4.80
3-2 $5.00
8-5 $5.20
9-5 $5.60
2-1 $6.00
5-2 $7.00
3-1 $8.00
7-2 $9.00
4-1 $10.00
9-2 $11.00
5-1 $12.00
6-1 $14.00
7-1 $16.00
8-1 $18.00
9-1 $20.00
10-1 $22.00
50-1 $102.00