Horse Racing Odds Betting Calculator

After learning how to read horse racing odds, it is important to then calculate payouts for your bets. Each different type of bet has its own payout potential, but it is often hard to calculate some payouts since odds fluctuate constantly. 


Horse race betting is based on the pari-mutuel betting system, which means you are betting against other bettors. The wagers are gathered in a pool for each bet, and they are dispersed after the track takes a cut to reinvest in racing. 


You will often see the same odds in every race, and the minimum standard bet is usually $2. However, it can be lower depending on the track or online betting platform. 


By looking at the chart below, you can easily calculate some of the most common payouts for a winning bet:


Odds 

$2 Payout

Odds 

$2 Payout

1/9

$2.20

7/2

$9.00

1/5

$2.40

4/1

$10.00

2/5

$2.80

9/2

$11.00

1/2 

$3.00

5/1

$12.00

3/5

$3.20

6/1

$14.00

4/5

$3.60

7/1

$16.00

1/1

$4.00

8/1

$18.00

6/5 

$4.40

9/1

$20.00

7/5

$4.80

10/1

$22.00

3/2

$5.00

11/1

$24.00

8/5

$5.20

12/1

$26.00

9/5

$5.60

13/1

$28.00

2/1

$6.00

14/1

$30.00

5/2

$7.00

15/1

$32.00

3/1

$8.00

16/1

$34.00

Breakdown of Bets

Horse racing payouts depend on which type of bet you actually place, with the amount varying greatly between straight and exotic bets. 


Let’s first take a look at the different types of bets:

Straight bets:


Win

You select the winning horse of a race.

Place

You select the second-place finisher of a race.

Show

You select the third-place finisher of a race.

Exotic bets:


Exacta

You select the first- and second-place finishers of a race in the exact order.

Trifecta

You select the first-, second-, and third-place finishers of a race in the exact order. 

Superfecta

You select the first-, second-, third-, and fourth-place finishers of a race in the exact order. 


While Win bets are easy to calculate based on the chart above, exotic bets can be more tricky. Exotic bets do not have exact horse racing odds due to the many variables involved with them. However, most of the top online sportsbooks offer probable payouts for certain wagers like the Exacta. 


Payouts for exotic bets are also calculated in a different way, as 15% of the amount left after the house takes its cut is divided between the winners. The amount of winning dollars is then subtracted from the total pool, and then the remaining pool is divided by the amount of money bet on the winner. The final step is for that amount to be added back into the winning bet amount. 


Here is a breakdown that can make this seemingly complex process more simple:


  • Winning bet pool : $100,000 

  • House’s cut: $15,000 (15%) = $85,000 left 

  • Total winning horse bets: $42,500

  • Your bet: $2 

  • To calculate odds: $85,000/$42,500 - $1 = $1.00 (1 to 1 odds)

  • Payout per dollar: $85,000/$42,500 = $2.00

  • Payout for $2 bet: $4.00

  • Profit: $2.00 on $2.00 bet



In actual horse race betting, payout processes depend on the racetrack and rely on the actual odds. They are rounded down to the nearest nickel or dime, which is called breakage. 

Chances of Hitting Different Bets

Another key aspect of calculating payouts has to do with which type of bet you place. Depending on the wager, you are going to have anywhere from a very good chance of collecting to a highly unlikely chance. The more difficult it becomes to win a certain bet, the higher your payout potential goes. 


Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of horse racing bets, how hard it is to hit them, and what the payout potential looks like:


Type of bet

Difficulty to collect

Payout potential

Superfecta

Out of all of the most common horse racing bets, the Superfecta is the hardest to hit. 

The Superfecta often costs a lot to make an effective bet, but if you did, you are likely looking at really big payouts.

Trifecta

Not as hard as the Superfecta, but still one of the most difficult bets to hit.

Trifectas often offer high payouts, but they are also expensive given the various combinations you can select.

Exacta

The Exacta is a moderately difficult bet to hit but far more achievable than the Trifecta and Superfecta.

The Exacta is riskier than straight wagers, and the payout can vary widely depending on the odds of the runners and how much you wager.

Win

The Win bet is your all-around average bet.

The payouts are better than the other straight wagers and are easy to calculate by odds.

Place

There is a good chance at hitting the Place bet as your horse just has to finish in the top two.

Payouts are not often high, but they are still bigger than the Show bet.


Show

The Show bet is the easiest bet you can place. 

Show bets offer decent and modest payouts but nowhere near as much as the other options. 


There are many different aspects to horse racing odds, but they are really not as confusing as they appear. Once you learn how the odds work, what they are based on, and how to calculate payouts, you will have no problem placing educated bets while knowing your payout potential.


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