Win More Money At The Horse Races By Being An Informed Consumer

I can tell many people how to be more successful and win more money at the horse races just by doing one thing. One of the factors in betting that many people overlook is the track takeout, also known as the “vig.” Vig, short for vigorish, or takeout, is the amount of money deducted from the pools before all winning bets are paid. For instance, if there is a total of $10,000 bet to win on all the horses in a single race, that becomes the win pool.

When the people who played the winner are paid off, they get to divide that pool, but only after the track has deducted a certain amount of money that is governed by the laws of the state. There is also something called “breakage,” which we will discuss in another article. For now, let’s talk about the variations from state to state in the amounts of money that race tracks deduct from the pools.

First of all, almost all venues take a higher percentage from the exotic betting pools than the straight bet pools. Straights are win-place-show, while exotics are wagers that include more than one runner; exactas, trifectas, daily doubles, pick threes, etc. California is an example of a state that allows more of a takeout on exotics. In California the takeout allowed by law on straight bets is 15% (this is very modest compared to some states) while the exotics are subject to the 15% plus an additional 4.75%. When you are trying to show a profit, that 4.75% can make a big difference and may make you want to consider straight bets instead of the flashier but more expensive wagers like exactas and trifectas.

Let’s take a hypothetical situation and look at what the differences in state laws regarding takeouts can mean to you the consumer. Let’s say that Bob the Bettor goes to his local otb parlor three times a week and makes $100 worth of wagers each time. In the course of a year he will have wagered a total of $15,600. Of course, that doesn’t mean he lost it all, in fact maybe he is a pretty good horse picker and losing slowly over time, and he loses about $1,560 or about 10%, in a year.

Bob likes to play the races in sunny Arizona because they start later in the day than the East Coast horse tracks so he has more time to handicap his program. The problem is that the tracks in Arizona are allowed by state law to deduct a whopping 25% on straight wagers and 30%-35% on exotics. So of the $100 that he wagers each day Bob is paying a minimum of $25. In the course of a year it costs him $3,900 to play the ponies. It costs Bob $25 each day to play, but one simple change could reduce that to $15, a savings of $10 per day.

If Bob likes to play a track that starts later in the day, he could switch to the Southern California tracks and pay only 15% on his bets. Instead of costing him $3,900 his wagers will now cost $2,340. That is a savings of $1,560! At the end of the year he will be ahead over $1500 and all he had to do was be a wise consumer. For the casual bettor this may or may not be a big concern, though I don’t know why it wouldn’t, since whether your wagers are casual or not it is still real money, your money.

Professional gamblers need to use every means at their disposal to make a profit, after all, it is their livelihood. If you are seriously playing the races and trying to make a profit you need to be a wise consumer. If enough people spend their money where they get the best deal, the management and state legislators will take notice and start to give you a better deal. There is a lot of competition for the gambling dollar right now and many states depend upon that income to fund their programs. Make them compete for your money and you’ll get a better deal.

Playing the horses can be fun, exciting, and even profitable, but like any other activity involving money, it can involve unnecessary waste and loss. If you want more information check out a list of track takeouts by state. Also, if you want a better deal, call, email or write to the state legislators and let them know how you feel about the deal you’re getting in every state that has a race track that you want to play. They make the laws and will yield to financial pressure.

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