Types of Bets
The three most common ways to bet money are:
bet to win
bet to place
bet to show
Bet to win means that you stake money on the horse, and if it comes in first place, the bet is a winner. In bet to place, you are betting on your horse to finish either first or second and ‘bet to show‘ is first, second or third.
Since it is much easier to select a horse to finish first, second or third than it is to select a horse just for first, the ‘show’ payoffs will be much lower on average than win payoffs. Betting ‘show’ is really playing it safe while win betting is a bit more risky, yet the rewards are better.
In Europe, betting to show is less commonplace since the number of “payout places” varies depending on the size of the field that takes part in the race. For example, in a race with seven or less runners in the UK, only the first two finishers would be considered winning bets with most bookmakers. Three places are paid for eight or more runners, whilst 16 runners or more will see the first four places being classed as “placed”. Betting to place takes on a different meaning in Europe for this reason.
In the US a place bet would only pay out if the horse in question finished first or second, whilst in the UK, a place bet would be deemed a winner based on the aforementioned criteria.
The term “Each Way” bet is used across the globe, but again has a different meaning depending on your location. An each way (or E/W) bet sees your total bet being split in two, with half being placed on the win, and half on the place. US bettors would only see a payout for a first or second place finish with this type of bet, whilst European and British bettors (or “punters”) would receive a payout if the horse either wins, or is placed based on the place criteria as stated above.
Most UK bookmakers cut the odds considerably for an each way bet, offering the full odds if the horse wins but only a third, a quarter or a fifth of the odds if only the place section of the bet is successful.