Parimutuel betting is a great system for placing bets on horse racing. Unlike fixed-odds betting where a final payout is predetermined, parimutuel has a pool of money that is divided amongst the winners at the time of pay-out. This kind of betting is often legal where other kinds of betting are not and takes place often outside of the track itself.
Taxes, “house-take” or “vig” are almost always removed from the pool before funds are distributed to the bettors. Parimutuel betting pools can have complex bets and payouts because of many different outcomes of bets placed and commission calculations.
Bettors are able to bet for a horse that places first, known as a “win”. A “place” bet is picking a horse that finishes first or second while “show” bets are picking a horse that finishes first, second or third. These are classified as “straight bets”.
Parimutuel betting becomes even more complex when Exacta, Trifecta and Superfecta are added as legitimate betting strategies. Exacta is when a bettor must pick two horses that finish first and second in a specific order. Trifecta is when a bettor must pick three horses that finish in a specific order. And of course, Superfecta is picking first, second, third and fourth horses in a specific order.
This kind of betting is considered “exotic” and as such encourages drawing a “box” to bet on all rearrangements of one of the above bets. For instance in an Exacta bet you might bet that horse A is first and horse B is second as well as horse B being first and horse A being second. Since some of these bets are particular, it can be to your better benefit to box your bets if you are trying to decide between a few horses that you believe could win.
Alternatives to boxing your bets are choosing a “Duet” where the bettor picks two horses who he or she thinks will place first, second or third in unspecific order. A “Double” bet is something that can usually be done on the first two races or the last two by betting on the winners for two successive races. A “Triple” being a variation of the Double with the choosing of the winners for three successive races. Luckily the “Quadrella” doesn’t require your four winning picks to be in successive races. Not surprisingly a “Sweep” is where a bettor picks the winner of four or more successive races. The Sweep often has a rollover jackpot, much like bingo that accumulates each day until one or more bettors picks the winners from each race.
What is most interesting about parimutuel betting is that the gambler is betting against other gamblers and not the house. The house only takes its “cut” of the total bets instead of the house paying out a predetermined amount of money. It is possible to win money consistently at this type of gambling in the long run, but the difficulty of dealing with taxes, the house’s cut and other cuts makes it difficult to be up by the end of the day.