Hobbies Card Games & Gambling How to Calculate Horse Racing Betting Odds and Payoffs Share PINTEREST Email Print Tote board. Al Bello / Getty Images Card Games & Gambling Sports Gambling Gambling Strategies & Tips Casinos Poker Blackjack by Cindy Pierson Dulay Cindy Pierson Dulay is a horse-racing expert, journalist and award-winning photographer. She is the owner and editor of Horse-Races.Net. Updated November 04, 2019 It's surprising at how many people make bets on horse races without the slightest understanding of the tote board. While all of those numbers on the board may seem imposing, the odds and payoffs are actually pretty easy to learn. And by doing so, you will be able to make and calculate better bets. Reading the Win Odds The easiest information on the board is the win odds quoted on each horse. They don't tell you what the horse will pay, but the amount of profit you will get and the amount you have to bet to get it. For example, 6-5 means you will get $6 in profit for every $5 you wager, while 20-1 means you get $20 in profit for every $1 you wager. In the latter example, a bet of $2 means you would get $42 back for a winning wager. Payoffs use the actual odds and are rounded down to the nearest nickel or dime, depending on the rules at that track. This rounding is called breakage. Calculating the Win Odds on a Horse If you want to calculate the exact win odds on a horse, you will need to use a couple of other figures from the tote board: Total win poolAmount bet on that horse The total pool is all the money bet on all the horses to win, but it is not the amount that will actually be paid out to the holders of winning tickets. Before the track pays off the winners, they deduct the "take," which is generally between 14 and 20 percent and is different in every state. This money goes to pay state and local taxes, payment for the horsemen, expenses at the track, and the track's profit. To calculate the exact odds on your horse, just subtract the take from the total pool, then subtract the amount bet on your horse to give you the amount of cash to be paid out. Divide that figure by the amount bet on your horse to get the exact odds. This figure will always be rounded off to the nearest dime (usually) or nickel, as mentioned previously, before the payoffs are calculated. Here is a simple example of win odds calculation: Total pool: $900Amount bet on horse No. 1: $300Take amount: 15 percent$900 minus 15 percent equals $765$765 minus $300 equals $465$465 divided by $300 equals $1.55 Round this amount off to $1.50 for breakage and you get odds of 1.5-1 or 3-2, as it would normally be written, which yields a payoff of $5 on a wager of $2. Payoffs for $2 Win Bets Since most tracks have a $2 minimum bet, below is a handy chart to look up the payoff for a $2 bet at various odds. Remember, your actual payoff may differ from this chart, as the odds on the tote board are rounded off, so 2-1 odds on the tote board may actually be 1.9-1 or 2.2-1. ODDS PAYS ODDS PAYS ODDS PAYS 1-5 $2.40 8-5 $5.20 6-1 $14.00 2-5 $2.80 9-5 $5.60 7-1 $16.00 1-2 $3.00 2-1 $6.00 8-1 $18.00 3-5 $3.20 5-2 $7.00 9-1 $20.00 4-5 $3.60 3-1 $8.00 10-1 $22.00 1-1 $4.00 7-2 $9.00 15-1 $32.00 6-5 $4.40 4-1 $10.00 20-1 $42.00 7-5 $4.80 9-2 $11.00 30-1 $62.00 3-2 $5.00 5-1 $12.00 50-1 $102.00 Continue Reading Betting on Horses for Beginners What Are the Most Common Terms Used in Horse Racing? Learn Why Sports Betting Is Profitable How to Place Bets at Craps Craps Bets - the House Edge How to Box an Exacta When Betting on Horse Racing Do You Know How to Bet Parlays? Tips for Betting the Pick 3 in a Horse Bet Free Harness Racing Programs With Past Performances Where Can You Find Thoroughbred Horse Racing Entries and Results? How to Bet a Football Parlay Card What Is a Net Score in Golf and How Do You to Calculate It? How Do Points Spreads Work? How to Play Baccarat 10 of the Most Popular Betting Games and Side Wagers for Golfers It's No Longer a Penny Game. See How Much the New Penny Slots Cost.