#TheAction: The Show Bet


Basic Action: The show wager is a bet that appeals to a lot of players who are new to racing and looking to minimize their initial risk. When you bet to show, you win if the horse you bet on finishes first, second OR third. Show payouts are significantly lower than those for win bets and sometimes much lower than place bets. I call the show bet, "horse racing's version of insurance" and it's a fun way to get "action" in a race, without needing the horse you select to finish first or even second. Advanced Action: Average returns for show bets generally reflect win wager payouts, in that horses with higher win-odds will generally pay more to show than horses with lower win-odds. Naturally, the show bet returns its highest amounts on long shots who "hit the board" (finishing first, second or third). Even then, I would not encourage players to regularly wager to show. One strategy to consider is the "ladder" bet. It involves incremental bet increases (up the ladder) from win to place to show. An example would be betting $5 to win, $10 to place and $20 to show on the same horse. The logic behind it is that even if your horse doesn't win (and you lose your $5 win bet), you'll still make out well if your horse finishes second (and you get paid on your place and show wagers) or if it finishes third (and you cash your largest wager, the show bet). This play is generally reserved for horses at middle to high odds (my general cutoff would be somewhere in the 6-1 to 8-1 range) because, remember, place and show bets for horses at lower odds (like 2-1, for example) do not generally offer the the kind of return on investment to justify the bet.

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