Bet on Sports
How to bet on Sports
Racing at Churchill Downs. (Photo by Coady Photography)
November 22nd, 2023
For the longest time, horse racing was the only sport you could legally bet on in most of the U.S. But in the last decade, nearly 75% of the country has legalized sports wagering, and many fans of horse racing are beginning to dabble in the new gambling opportunity.
While there are a number of differences between horse racing wagering and sports betting — namely, horse racing’s pari-mutuel wagering versus sports betting’s fixed odds — the two pastimes intertwine in more than one way.
Below YouBet looks at three sports betting wagers that are similar to the types of horse racing bets you can place at the track.
The simplest horse racing wager is the win bet, where a horseplayer tries to predict which runner will cross the finish line first in a race. Much like the win bet, in sports betting you can wager on the moneyline, in which you pick the team or player (in an individual sport like tennis or boxing) you think will win a matchup outright.
The main difference between a win wager in racing and the moneyline is how the odds are set. Horse racing utilizes pari-mutuel wagering, so you are betting against every other bettor in a specific pool — like the win pool or exacta pool — and every dollar in the pool is distributed equally among the winning bettors after takeout. You are not betting against the "house," or the track, but the track does get a certain percentage of each winning wager, which is known as the takeout.
With pari-mutuel wagering, the odds are constantly changing based on the wagers that enter a specific pool and do not set until post time. For example, let's say you like a horse who is 5-1 on the morning line, but the morning line favorite scratches minutes before the race, or a sharp bettor receives a tip on the 5-1 choice and places a substantial amount of money on that runner. You may have placed $10 to win on that 5-1 horse, but by post time his odds may have dipped to 2-1. Therefore, if your horse crosses the finish line first, your winnings will now be $20 (based on the 2-1 price) as opposed to $50 (on the original 5-1 price).
In sports betting, once you place your wager, the price is locked. If you like the Dallas Cowboys to upset the Philadelphia Eagles on the road and you place a $10 bet on the Cowboys’ moneyline at +200, you will win $20 if the Cowboys get the W.
Even if the moneyline odds were to change before kickoff, you would still get the payout on the +200 odds that you locked in when you placed your bet.
Sportsbooks do adjust the odds as betting handle comes in, so if the Cowboys opened as a +200 underdog against the Eagles, but Jalen Hurts goes down with an injury in practice earlier in the week and cornerback Darius Slay is suddenly out with an illness, the Cowboys’ moneyline price may lower to +110 as sportsbooks adjust the odds based on the new circumstances or more handle comes in on the Cowboys.
.@J_Keelerman shares picks and plays for Tuesday, Nov. 21 at Zia Park and Mahoning Valley, along with a horse to single in the $3,906 Pick 6 carryover at Finger Lakes.#TwinSpiresEdge 🔪 https://t.co/7E6CypqVLV— TwinSpires Racing 🏇 (@TwinSpires) November 21, 2023
.@J_Keelerman shares picks and plays for Tuesday, Nov. 21 at Zia Park and Mahoning Valley, along with a horse to single in the $3,906 Pick 6 carryover at Finger Lakes.#TwinSpiresEdge 🔪 https://t.co/7E6CypqVLV
Within a specific sports matchup, a bettor can wager on multiple outcomes, such as a player's passing props, the first touchdown scorer, first-quarter spread, or the Over/Under on second-half points.
A bettor can also string together a few of these wagers to create a same-game parlay. For example, in a matchup between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines, you could individually wager on the Over/Under for Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy’s passing yards, that running back Blake Corum will record a touchdown in the game, and that Michigan will score Over 28 points in the contest.
Individually, you may get somewhere between -110 and +110 odds on the Over/Under for many player props, and the price on a Blake Corum anytime touchdown may be somewhere around -120, considering how often he reaches paydirt. But to increase your payout potential, you could create a parlay, which will increase your odds substantially, as the likelihood of all three bets hitting is much lower than you hitting at least one of your three individual bets.
A same-game parlay is much like vertical exotics in horse racing, such as the exacta, trifecta, superfecta, or Super High 5, in which you are wagering on more than one horse and the order of finish in a race.
It’s much easier to predict the winner of a race than it is to forecast the first-, second-, and third-place finishers, so you’re likely to get a much higher payout when you hit an exacta, trifecta, or superfecta.
Of course, in horse racing, you can wager on vertical exotics in a number of ways. You can box four horses in a superfecta, or you can key one horse on top and play three or more underneath. The way in which you bet your exotics will affect the price of the wager and the potential return on investment.
With parlays, every leg of your wager must hit in order to receive a payout, but you can increase the probability of winning by utilizing the round-robin method, which create a series of small parlays and is similar to boxing or keying in vertical exotics.
Like the same-game parlay in sports betting, you can also wager across multiple games or multiple sports in one parlay. For example, you make like the Toronto Raptors to win outright (+105), the Atlanta Hawks to win by at least four points (-110 odds on a 3.5-point spread), and the total of the Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns matchup to go Over 223.5 points (-110). You can string all three of these NBA wagers together to create a three-leg, multi-game parlay, which would offer odds of +647 and win you $647 on a $100 wager.
In horse racing, horizontal exotics like the Daily Double, Pick 3, Pick 4, and Pick 5 are similar to a multi-game or multi-sport parlay. You are wagering on which horse will win each of a series of standalone races. The likelihood of predicting the winning horse in five straight races is much lower than the likelihood of hitting an individual win wager on any one given race, so your payout will most likely be much greater if you hit a horizontal wager.
Some sportsbooks will let you bet across multiple sporting events, such as the winner of the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, and the Stanley Cup, or you could bet the moneyline of a college basketball game on a Thursday, along with the spread of the NFL’s Thursday Night Football matchup, and the total of a college football game that week.
Wagering across multiple sporting events is similar to horse racing’s cross-country wagers, in which you can bet on the winner of specific races across multiple tracks. Similarly, you can also find special wagers on big racing days like the Kentucky Derby or Breeders’ Cup, in which you can bet a Double on a Friday race and a Saturday race during Derby week, or wager exclusively on the dirt stakes or turf stakes across the span of two days during a marquee racing weekend.
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