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How to bet at a Kentucky Derby party

Planning on attending or hosting a Kentucky Derby party this year? Betting on your favorite horse(s) is a big part of the fun, and you don’t have to be at the track to get involved.

These tips will ensure you and your guests get a run for your money during the Run for the Roses:

Bet with your computer or mobile device

If you live in one of the many states that allows advance deposit wagering (ADW), you’re in luck—you can place bets online and await the results from home. A popular option is TwinSpires.com, the official wagering partner of the Kentucky Derby. TwinSpires users can place bets on their computer or mobile device and enjoy high-quality livestreams of all the action. Even better, new players can take advantage of a $100 signup bonus.

Get your bets in early

Don’t assume you’ll have a chance to bet the Derby in the final minutes before post time—once your party gets going, time is bound to fly. Plan your wagers beforehand and place them well before the race, double-checking each bet for accuracy. This goes double if you’re placing bets on behalf of your friends and family. You don’t want to congratulate your cousin on winning a $5 show bet, only to realize you submitted the wrong number and actually wagered his money on a losing horse.

Play party games

Games are a fun way to get everyone involved without necessarily spending a single cent. Write the names of every Kentucky Derby runner on slips of paper, place them in a hat, and let guests randomly draw a name to determine which horse they’ll play.

From here, the variations on gameplay can be infinite. You could arrange for everyone to place a $2 win bet on their chosen horse, giving them a real rooting interest in the outcome. Or you could bet with “Monopoly money,” wagering imaginary amounts and calculating what each player’s winnings would have been. Consider writing down various dollar amounts on slips of paper so players can choose their wager amounts at random; use a wide range of values ($2, $100, $1 billion) for maximum entertainment.

Where to get started and how to win at Kentucky Derby party pools and group games!

The Kentucky Derby is more than just a horse race—it’s a national event. Like the Super Bowl or March Madness, folks who don’t normally follow Thoroughbred horse racing will tune in to watch (and wager) on the Derby, which has been held every year since 1875.

Planning to join in with a wager or two of your own? Whether you’re paying a visit to Churchill Downs or partying from the comfort of your home, these five tips will help you get the most enjoyment out of your Derby betting foray.

  • Read about the contenders

  • While betting on horse races is a fun challenge in and of itself, your enjoyment of the sport will be increased multifold by learning about the horses involved. Industry websites, including Brisnet.com and TwinSpires.com, are packed with news and analysis to help guide your betting decisions. The news section of the Kentucky Derby website is a similarly rich resource of race results, insights, and interesting backstories. Learn about the horses as horses—not just numbers in the program—and the sport will come to life before your eyes.
  • Bet the favorites
  • Betting horses at random will produce only infrequent winners, so if you want to impress your friends with a steady stream of victorious selections, go with the flow and bet on favorites. You won’t stumble into high-priced winners, but hey—winning sure beats losing, no matter what the payoff. Favorites win 35% of the time in the Kentucky Derby, a success rate that more or less holds true for all other North American horse races. Bet on every favorite over the course of 12 races, and you’ll likely pick four or five winners, sufficient to make you a handicapping hero.

  • Have a plan
  • Even if you’re betting just for fun, it’s wise to approach a day of racing with a plan in mind. Set aside your wagering budget and ration it accordingly throughout the afternoon. View your bets as the price of an entertaining afternoon and assume you won’t win back a dime—that way, if you’re skilled enough (or lucky enough?) to cash some winning wagers, you can happily pocket your profits and head home as the toast of the track.

  • Get your bets in early
  • Don’t wait around until the last minute to get your bets placed! Planning and placing wagers can take longer than you anticipate. If you’re at the track, you might get hung up in line waiting to bet; if you’re at home, you might stop for a snack and realize too late that the race is about to begin. There’s no reason to be hurriedly placing a wager as the horses enter the starting gate—get your bets in early, and you won’t get shut out when post time arrives.

  • Play party games
  • Watching the Kentucky Derby with a group of friends? Team up with party games so everyone can enjoy a piece of the action. Betting a simple show bet parlay can be a potentially lucrative way to keep the fun going all afternoon. Another idea? Put the names of every Kentucky Derby horse in a hat and take turns drawing names until every horse has been selected. If everyone bets a small amount on their chosen runner(s), you can guarantee someone will experience the satisfaction of winning a Derby wager.

    Good luck!