One of the best things about the Kentucky Derby besides the spectacle and majesty is that you get to wager on some of the world’s best race horses.  We’ll teach you how to wager like a rock star, but here’s a little overview about betting and odds before we get into the nitty gritty of picking your horse and placing a bet.

The wagering system used at North American racetracks is called, “parimutuel wagering.”  Here’s how it works:

The track holds all the money wagered in a “pool.”   After the race, the track pays the folks who won their bets from that pool.  A small percentage of the pool goes to each the track and the state.  The track uses it to fund the purses for its races. The state’s percentage goes into its budget.

Wagering odds are determined by the money wagered by bettors. The more money wagered on a horse, the lower its odds. That’s why the “favorite” always has the lowest odds, because everyone is betting on that horse. If it wins the pool has to be divided between all those people who bet on it, which means the payout is small.  The reverse is true for a “longshot.”  If no bets on a longshot it has higher odds. If it wins there are fewer people to divide the pool among, so the payout is higher.

It’s easy to calculate how much you’ll win based on the odds.  Here’s how you do it with a $2 bet:

·     If the odds are “to 1” (like 3 – 1 or 4 – 1): Double the odds and add your $2 bet. So if the odds are 3 – 1, double the 3 and add your $2 bet for a payout of $8.  If they are 4 – 1, double the 4 and add your $2 bet for a payout of $10. Easy.

If the odd are “to 2” (like 7 – 2): Just add your $2 bet. So if the odd are 7-2, your payout is $9. If the odds are 5-2, your payout is $7

If the odds are “to 5” (like 8-5):  This one is a little more complicated, but easy once you get it. Here is what you do for 8 – 5 odds:

1.       Double the odds = 16 - 10

2.       Divide by 10 = 1.6 – 1

3.       Double = 3.2

4.       Add your $2 bet and you get a payout of $5.20

See it’s easy. Now that you know how to calculate your odds, you’re ready to make a bet and win some money! Don’t spend it all in one place…


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