Everyone is a horse racing fan on the first Saturday in May. That is, of course, the day when the most famous race in the United States is traditionally held: the Kentucky Derby. While hard-core racing fans and career gamblers certainly place wagers on the race, this day also pulls in bettors of a more casual variety, who may not know much about the sport. 

Many choose to place their bets only as souvenirs or to be able to tell their friends that they did more than simply sip mint juleps.

However, a new fan can become a successful bettor if they have a little bit of luck and know how to use the tools at their disposal. One of those tools is a betting calculator, and that can help a punter manage their money and calculate just how much profit their wagers can make.

Gambling At US Racetracks

All Thoroughbred racetracks in the United States, including Churchill Downs (the host track of the Kentucky Derby), use a parimutuel system for wagering. So, if you are betting on horses with TwinSpires.com, their official sportsbook, you probably can find that over there as well.

All bets of a particular type on a particular horse are pooled together. If that horse wins, the track will take a small percentage of the winnings, and the rest will be paid out proportionately to the winning bettors, based on the total amount taken in on that particular horse and wager. 

This means that a racetrack gambler is not playing against “the house,” but rather the other racetrack gamblers. It also means that the odds on any given horse change as more and more people place their bets. 

The winning payouts are based on the odds on the horse at post time. Let’s say that someone places a $2.00 win bet on a horse who is at odds of 10-1 early in the day. If the horse remained at those odds and won, the bettor would receive a return of $22.00. 

If many more people bet a lot of money on that particular horse throughout the afternoon, though, their odds at post time could be 2-1, which would mean less of a payout for all involved. In this situation, the bettor would receive only a $6.00 return. However, if all of the other horses in the race get more attention at the betting window, the odds on the horse could drift up to, say, 25-1, which would mean a return of $52.00.

What Is A Betting Calculator?

A betting calculator is a way to calculate and keep track of what wagers you have placed, how much each wager costs, and how much of a payout the odds will translate to. As you can tell, even placing a simple win bet can get pretty mathematically complicated!

Many tracks have their own digital betting calculators on the track’s app or website. These programs typically do not have much information about the horses, but they can help a bettor translate the odds and decide which horses are worth the monetary risk.

Betting calculators are also quite valuable to those who wish to make exotic wagers; that is, people who wish to bet multiple horses and/or multiple finish scenarios. Because the cost of these wagers fluctuates with the amount conditions chosen, a punter could end up accidentally spending more than intended on a wager. A betting calculator lets that punter know exactly what they will be paying before the ticket is purchased.

How Can You Use It In The Kentucky Derby?

Let’s say that on Derby Day 2022, a novice bettor had picked two horses to support: number 21, Rich Strike, and number 3, Epicenter. It is nearing post time, and the bettor has to make a decision quickly. 

Using a betting calculator, the bettor determines that a two dollar bet to win would return about $10.00 on Epicenter and about $162.00 on Rich Strike. The bettor could be swayed by the potential monetary gain on Rich Strike, or they might realize that much less money was wagered on him so he might not be a good choice.

Or, after a few moments, the bettor could still not decide and chose instead to bet an exacta. The betting calculator determines that boxing the exacta- meaning that either horse could win as long as Epicenter and Rich Strike were the top two- would only cost $4.00 and would still provide a lot of value. 

If a bettor had been in that position and made that bet, they’d have walked away with a return of over $4100.00!

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