When to use the win bet on a horse race

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These days there’s no shortage of ways to wager on a horse race. One that should never be overlooked is perhaps the oldest.

While the payoff on a win bet might be dwarfed by a trifecta or superfecta, its simplicity and effectiveness can help ensure turning a profit on your wagers.

Of course, putting it into play is not as easy as it might seem. If you simply bet $2 to win on all nine of your selections on a card, turning a profit on a regular basis could become challenging. What’s needed is some sound judgment so that you can take advantage of the best opportunities.

To start, you should feel no obligation to make a win bet on every race, especially if the odds are low.

It’s best to analyze the entire card and pick out the horses you like the best. Then let your interest in them and the tote board guide you in constructing your wagers.

In theory, you should make your biggest win bet on the horse you like best throughout the entire day. Yet if that horse turns out to be an odds-on favorite, say a 3-5 shot, getting $16 back for a $10 wager might not be worth the risk.

Conversely, it makes sense to set a level where you should automatically make a win bet. In most cases, 6-1 is a nice starting point. You can still make exacta or triple or Pick 3 wagers to capitalize on those ideas, but you should also make at least a small win wager so that you can collect a nice return even if you screw up the exotics.

Below odds of 6-1, use your discretion, keeping in mind that before launching into exotics you should make sure you have a relatively good feeling about the horses you’ll use in those wagers. If, for example, you like a 3-1 favorite, but find the rest of the horses in the field to be evenly matched, you can either use it with some of the longshots in the exacta or simply focus on a win bet to avoid losing tickets and maximize profits.

Conversely, with a 3-5 shot, a win bet offers such a small amount of profit and the exacta payoffs will most likely be so meager that there’s a reduced margin for error in playing the exotics. You’re best to focus on a few combinations rather than spread your wagers on numerous combinations, which would be a more appropriate strategy for wagering on a longshot.

Win bets can also be affected by sequence or horizontal wagers. While it’s always best to link your pick with the races in which you have the most confidence, if your double or Pick 3 wager can culminate with your main pick, it makes your wagering on that race much more concise.

Knowing you have a live ticket worth $15 or $150 linked to your pick – or none at all – allows you to decide if a win bet is needed or how much you will need to bet to guarantee a certain profit. A large enough will-pay can even give a handicapper enough flexibility to make win bets on other horses in the race as saver wagers or to cover some exacta or triple wagers on the race.

In either event, while a win bet might not offer the enticing odds of an exotic wager, it should not be ignored. It could be the key to a winning day at the races.