What Is An Exotic Bet?

The word “exotic” may conjure up images of faraway tropical jungles or beautiful beaches, but in horse racing, an exotic bet is simply a bet on more than one horse. As the hours of pre-race coverage drone on, almost everyone is trying to pick the winner — it’s focused, it’s easier, and likely all anyone will remember. But what that approach fails to consider are all the exotic bets you can make. There are many different types of exotic bets: exacta, quinella, trifecta, superfecta, and Super High 5 bets. These are the words that you often see flashing up on the screen for a brief moment after the race, but that you’ve never taken the time to fully figure out until now.

First, let’s define what the different types of exotic bets are. A quinella is the exotic bet that is statistically easiest to occur, and it is when you pick the first and second place horses regardless of order. A cousin of the quinella is the exacta, which is picking the first and second places in the correct order. A trifecta is when the bettor bets on the podium finishers in the correct order. Next, there is a superfecta, where a bettor correctly predicts the first, second, third, and fourth horses in order. For those looking to get even more adventurous, there is the Super High 5, and as you can likely guess, this is picking the first five finishers in the correct order. Picking one horse correctly is a tough ask, let alone five, which is why exotic bets have such high payouts.

For example, in 2020, betting $2 on Justify to win paid out $18.80. On the other hand, an exacta would have had a payout of $41. While the exacta has a more sizable payout, it pales in comparison to both the trifecta and superfecta payout. The trifecta, with only a $1 bet, paid out $1,311.80 and the $1 superfecta paid out $7,925.80. Not bad for a $1 bet. In 2019, there was a bettor who won more than $600,000 with exotic bets, but got into a dispute with the casino because they said they only had to pay him $35,000 due to their maximum odds policy.

The reason why exotic bets are appealing is because you are able to make more money from a wager, but the reason why you are able to make more money is because exotic wagers are much more difficult to predict. Because they are more difficult to predict, the minimum bet is lower for exotic bets. Expect the minimum to be about 50 cents for a trifecta and potentially as low as 10 cents for the minimum superfecta bet.

When you are wagering and making exotic bets, it is important to focus on making bets that you believe will actually occur instead of becoming distracted and enticed by large payouts. Now that you know what each bet is, you can be confident in your picks and will never have to pretend you know what you are talking about when somebody says they were “inches away from a superfecta.” For the gambler who is growing bored of making standard wagers, exotic bets are a fantastic way to dabble with more complicated and exciting bets and quite literally get “more horses in the race.”

Photo Credit: Google Creative Common Licenses

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