Wager > Betting 101 > What to say at the betting window

What to Say to the Mutuel Teller When You Bet

If you're a beginning bettor you probably want to place your bets at a mutuel window with a live mutuel teller before using self-service betting machines and mobile applications. Here’s what you should do when you get to the betting window:

  1. Have your money in hand, so that once you're at the counter, you're ready to make your bet
  2. State the track's name
  3. State the race number you are betting on
  4. State the amount of money you are betting
  5. Say the type of bet you are placing
  6. Finally, state the horse's program number

It should sound something like this, "Churchill Downs, Race 11, $2 to win on #4." After you've handed the teller your money, make sure you take your betting ticket and store it in a safe, or lucky, place. If your bet wins, you'll need to return to the betting window and give the teller your ticket to collect your winnings.

How to prepare for betting at the track

Heading to your local racetrack to wager on the Kentucky Derby? While it’s easy to place bets online using your computer or mobile device, there’s something about being at the track, betting in person, and holding actual tickets in your hand that can’t be replicated online. Even losing bets can live on as souvenirs of the day.

If you’re just getting started and haven’t bet at the track before, never fear! These four tips will help guide you through the process:

Make sure to use the correct betting window

When approaching the betting windows, make sure you enter the right line. If you’re planning to place a $10 win bet, you don’t want to be in a line for bettors wagering $50 or more. Check for signage to determine which windows are for which denominations.
Know the lingo

Using the correct terminology for outlining your wager is the key to a successful, accurate transaction. When you approach the betting window, you’ll need to provide five pieces of information in a specific order—the name of the racetrack, the race number, the base amount of your wager, the type of wager, and the program numbers of the horses involved.

For example, if you wanted to bet $10 on #7 Justify to win the 2018 Kentucky Derby (the 12th race of the day at Churchill Downs), you would have gone up to the betting window and asked for the following: “Churchill Downs, Race 12, $10 to win on 7.”

To place a wager involving multiple races (a Pick 3, Pick 4, etc.) or multiple finishing positions within a single race (an exacta, trifecta, etc.), separate the different sections of your bet using the word “with.” Let’s imagine you were betting the 2018 Kentucky Derby and wished to play an exacta, which involves selecting the top two finishers in the correct order. Suppose you wanted to bet $5 on #7 Justify to win over #6 Good Magic. You would have asked for the following: “Churchill Downs, Race 12, $5 exacta 7 with 6.”

Plan your bets ahead of time

You don’t want to be the person who goes up to the betting window, outlines a wager, realizes it’s more expensive than expected, and tries to adjust on the fly. You’ll hold up the line, and you’ll be rushing to reconfigure your tickets, perhaps leaving out the winning combination in your haste.

This situation can be avoided by thoroughly planning your bets in advance. Write all the combinations you intend to play and calculate their cost. If a complex ticket is hard to tally, use an online wagering calculator to confirm the cost. Write down your wagers and bring them with you to the betting window—you’ll get them placed with time to spare, and the folks behind you in line will thank you.
Consider using a self-service betting machine

If you want to skip the betting windows, you can instead place wagers using a self-service betting machine. After purchasing a voucher, you can use an intuitive touchscreen interface to place your bets using the same approach outlined above. Winning tickets can be inserted into the machine and added to the value of your voucher, which you can redeem when you’re finished betting.

Good luck with your wagers!

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