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Win Place Show bets, or straight wagers, are among the most traditional and accessible bets in horse racing. The payout is not as outrageous, but they are some of the most straightforward bets to make with a simple payout structure if it is any consolation.

To give you a numerical perspective about the possible payouts from this bet: the 2019 Kentucky Derby had a win bet payout of $132, place bet payout of $56 and show bet payout of $24 for a $2 bet.

If you are new to the world of horse betting, the Win Place Show bets are an excellent place to start. They are easier to understand than the more exotic bets such as the exact, superfecta, trifecta, and the more complex bettings like the pick 3’s, pick 5’s.

Due to its straightforward nature, it is one of the most commonly placed bets.

By the end of this guide, you will have familiarized yourself with everything you need to know about the Win Place Show bets.

What Is a Win, Place, Show Bet, and How Much Do I Make It?

Simply put,

Win Bet

A win bet means you bet on a horse that you think will win. You get a payout only if your Horse finishes first.

Place Bet

A place bet means you bet on a horse to come in the first two positions. You get a payout if your Horse comes either 1st or 2nd, and the payout will be smaller than the win bet. This result is because the top two finishers share the pool money. 

Show Bet

A show bet means you bet on a horse to come in one of the first three positions. You get a payout if your selected Horse comes either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, and the payout is even smaller than the place bet. It is smaller because all the three-position finishers share the pool money.

A substantial advantage of these bets is that most racing tracks will display the odds of the Horse on the field board. These odds will help you calculate your payout range before even placing your bet. This calculation is not possible with most other bets, where you know your payouts usually after the race.

Calculating the Payouts for the Win Place Show Bets

Calculating the Payout for a Win Bet

To calculate your minimum payout, you need to know the odds of your Horse.

1. From that odds ratio, you take the first number and multiply it by 2 (remember, if the odds is a whole number, place that over a 1 – for example, 7 would be 7/1)

2. You take that number and divide it by the second number of the odds ratio

3. Add your outlay money to that number

An Example of Calculating the Payout for a Win Bet

Horse odds = 7/2

Outlay= $2

Step 1 = 7*2

Step 2  = 14/2

Step 3 = $7 + $2

Payout = $9

You could also calculate the highest payout. For instance, if the odds are 5/2 and outlay $2. Using the formula discussed previously, the payout will be $7. Your actual payout will be anywhere between $7 and $7.9. It cannot be more than that, as if it is $8 – the odds would be 3/1.

Many tracks will display the probable payoffs, so you do not need to get lost with all these calculations.

Calculating the Payout for Place Bets

Step 1: Find out the total bet pool amount, and deduct the cost of takeout.

Step 2: Find out how much was bet on the two-place horses.

Step 3: Find out the profit that will be divided between the winning bettors.

Step 4: Divide this profit by 2

Step 5: Divide this number by the number of winning tickets

Step 6: Double each amount and add outlay

An Example of Calculating the Payout for a Place Bet

Assume the following:

Horse A and B finish 1/2 in the race.

$25,000 was in the betting pool.

10% takeout.

Each bet was $2.

Step 1 – 25,000 – 10% = 22,500

Step 2 – $6500 was bet on A, $12750 was bet on B

Step 3 – 22,500-6,500-12,750 = 3,250

Step 4 – 3,250/2 = $1625

Step 5 – For horse A = 1625/6500 = $0.25. For horse B = 1625/12750 = $0.13

Step 6 = (0.25*2) = 0.50+$2= $2.50 | (0.13*2)=$0.16+$2= $2.16

Calculating the Payout for a Show Bets

It is the same as above, except:

In step 2: Find out how much was bet on the three show horses (instead of 2 place horses)

In step 4: Divide the profits by three horses (instead of 2 horses)

What Is an Across the Board, Wager?

This is a term you will hear floating around the race track very often. This bet is all the three (win, place, show) rolled into one.

Under this Wager, you bet on one Horse in a single ticket to Win Place Show. Three scenarios come out of this:

1. Your Horse wins – You will get the Win Place Show payout

2. Your Horse comes 2nd – You will get the Place Show payout

3. Your Horse comes 3rd – You will get the Show payout

The Positives of an Across the Board Wager

There are multiple advantages to this Wager:

  1. It is low-risk. When you compare it to other bets, say even the individual win bet, getting any (some) payout is higher. This betting approach gives you a useful safety net.
  2. Usually, the cut on this is lower. The race bet organizers levy a charge for their services; these charges are called takeout. For a win place show bet, the takeout is usually the lowest than other bets (especially the exotic wagers).

The Negatives of an Across the Board Wager

However, the payout of this kind of bet is usually one of the lowest. It is also called the lazy bet, and rightly so as you do not need to spend a lot of time analyzing and making specific selections: less effort, fewer rewards.

This result is the case unless you use The Wizards selections, where we research on your behalf and only suggest a handful of place bets each day at the track.

The bet can also get more expensive. If one win bet is $10, for across the board wager, you usually have to cover the cost of all three bets, and you will have to pay at least $30. It is sporadic that you will get back a substantial value, and your overlay is high. 

All in all, this bet is one of the least stressful chances, and when you are just starting – you want to have fun. This bet tactic is one of the best doors to enter the world of horse betting.

Final Thoughts on the Win Place Show Bets

When you are just starting, it is better to walk or trot than a gallop. The win place show bets allow you to do just that. The other bets could seem lucrative, but the winning probability is relatively low even for the most experienced (unless you are using The Wizards picks, which significantly increase your chances).

Hence, these bets form the first nature steps for beginners.

Do not get turned off by the modest payouts. You can act smart, and win decently if you play your bets right. For instance, many experts advise to bet only on win bets and to pass on the other two (place and show bets).

If you are even a bit decent in your selection and can pick out multiple winners – you will compensate for the lost races. The profit from a few win races will most likely be higher than what you will cash out in place and show. Point being, even with these small traditional bets, you can accumulate some cash and experience to play the more exotic bets.

So, go out there and cash some small tickets on these straight bets!

The Wizards Thoughts on Wine Place Show Bets

With all the different wagering options, the Win-Place-Show Bet has become a distant memory. These bets sometimes allow for good wagering opportunities with a simple bet. The key is to make a Win bet on a horse whose odds are bigger than what they should be. I never make a Win bet on a horse that is less than 7-5. Place bets should be made on horses who go off at odds of 4-1 or higher. Show bets 10-1 or higher.

The Wizard


  • James Hill
    Posted July 30, 2021 at 7:50 pm

    Perfect explanation

  • Curt
    Posted October 16, 2021 at 5:04 am

    Thank you for posting this. Errors in place bet calculation: 1) $6400 became $6500 2) .13*2 = .16

  • Sue
    Posted May 6, 2022 at 9:58 pm

    Very easy to understand.

  • Cal
    Posted May 8, 2022 at 12:05 am

    What the hell is outlay?

  • donald d jacks
    Posted August 20, 2022 at 3:16 pm

    If a $50 show bet is made on a horse and he finishes third with a tote board decimal odd of 2.1 for the show position, is the payout $55.00 plus the wager of $50 for a total payout by the track of $105.00?

  • Illya
    Posted February 11, 2023 at 4:09 pm

    ThThat’s really good information and that was similar to the synopsis that I came up with before I read your be very interested in hearing more on your ideas

  • casey
    Posted May 6, 2023 at 9:59 am

    There is a typo in step 3 of your place bet. 6500 is out of thin air. 6400 was bet, not 6500

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Last updated: February, 2024

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