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Pick 6

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Horse Racing Betting

Betting is an important element in the popularity of horse racing. At different times in history four main types of betting have been popular:

Pari-mutuel is a French phrase translated as "betting among ourselves." Under the pari-mutuel system, which was developed in France during the 1860s, the betting odds on a given horse are derived from a comparison between the total amount wagered on the horse and the total wagered on all the horses in the race.

The odds are automatically computed by a device called a totalizator, which posts them on a lighted tote board clearly visible to spectators. Odds are recomputed at approximately one-minute intervals until post time, when all bets must be placed and the pari-mutuel machines are locked. Winning tickets are cashed after the race's results have been declared official, by which time computers have determined the payoffs.

Pari-mutuel bettors can wager that a horse will win (finish first), place (finish first or second), or show (finish first, second, or third). In the event that two or more horses are entered by the same owner or trainer, they are coupled in the wagering as an entry. In this situation a bet on one of these horses is a bet on all of them. In some races with many competitors, horses with less chance of winning are sometimes grouped into single betting interests known as fields.

Combination wagering involves more than one horse. Such combinations include the daily double, in which the bettor must predict the winners of two consecutive races (usually the first two of the day), purchasing the ticket in advance of both.

A variation of the daily double is the pick-6 (or pick-3), in which bettors must select the winners of 6 (or 3) consecutive races. To win a quinella, the bettor must predict the first two finishers in a single race without regard to the order in which they finish. To win an exacta (also called perfecta), the bettor must specify the exact order in which the first two horses in a race will finish. Such involved wagering almost always yields higher payoffs than straight win-place-show betting.

Off-track Betting

Off-track betting (OTB) is growing in popularity throughout the United States. OTB facilities offer an alternative to wagering at racetracks. As with betting done at tracks, states receive a portion of the pari-mutuel handle, or take. Off-track wagering has long been legal in the United Kingdom through private bookmaker shops.

Simulcasting, in which live races are televised at various racetracks around the country via satellite, is becoming very important in U.S. racing. It allows bettors to wager on stakes-quality horses, since simulcasts generally are reserved for the best races available. At many U.S. racetracks, whole cards of races from other locations are simulcast, both when the racetrack is also running live racing and when there is no live racing scheduled. Some tracks simulcast the races from up to eight different racetracks at the same time.

Beginning in the 1970s, off-track betting and simulcasting became increasingly prevalent in the United States. By 1993 wagering via simulcasting accounted for more than 40 percent of all wagering conducted at racetracks in the United States.

Online Horse Racing Betting

Online horse racing betting is also growing in popularity, not just in the United States, but all over the world. Online horse racing betting sites allow you to bet on your favorite horse from the comfort of your home.