If you’re a rookie in the world of horse racing and betting, some terms might be a mystery. We all know what a win bet is – the name is pretty clear; here’s a short definition, just in case. A win bet is the simplest form of horse race betting: All a punter has to do is select the runner they think will win the race. If you’re looking for betting options with a bit more diversity, you might want to look into show bets instead. Today’s guide covers all you should know about this type of betting: What it is, how it works, and how it’s different from place betting, as people often confuse the two.

Place Bet vs Show Bet: The UK vs the US

A show bet is a form of straight betting very similar to a place bet. The term is prevalent in North America; punters outside the US usually refer to it as a place bet. Let’s see what that’s all about:

In America, a place bet requires a runner to finish first or second, and if you’re betting a horse to show, that means it needs to be placed as first, second, or third. Now, as it usually happens, things are a bit different with UK punters. In the UK, a place bet means your selection needs to finish the race as first, second, or third. And, if a race has a lot of contestants, there’s even a possibility bookies will reward the first four, five, or six places.

On the other hand, in the UK, show betting is actually a variation of an “each-way bet.” When you place this type of bet, your horse is expected to come in the top three or four. Another vital thing crucial for understanding show bets in the UK is that you’re not betting on your horse to win, but finish in the second, third, or fourth spot.

Betting Across the Board

If you’re looking for an even more advanced option when placing your horse racing bet, you can try across-the-board betting. This bet type combines several bets on one ticket, and requires your runner to win, place, or show. If your selection wins the race, you get the win and place payouts. If it finishes second or third, you get the place and show payouts, and if it comes in fourth, you only get the show payout.

Betting Systems

Now that we’ve learned what a show bet is and how to place a show bet, let’s also see what other possibilities are there. When it comes to horse racing, punters can use three main betting systems: Fixed-odds betting, tote betting, and exchange betting.

Fixed-odds Betting

This type of betting is arguably the most common of all. It’s also the easiest one to understand. The bookie predetermines the odds, and once you place a bet, the payout is calculated based on the amount you staked multiplied by the odds. As their name suggests, fixed odds are set, making it easy to calculate your potential gain before placing a bet.

Tote Betting

If you’re into show betting, here’s another system you might find interesting. It’s called tote or pari-mutuel betting. The payouts are calculated based on the total pool of all stakes made for that bet. So, the more punters place their bets, the bigger the betting pool will be, meaning the payouts will be higher. The most significant downside of tote betting is that you can’t calculate the potential payout as it depends on the size of the pool.

Exchange Betting

Exchange betting is one of the newest betting systems rapidly growing in popularity. You can use this system as a part of your show betting strategy to spice things up a bit. Instead of betting against a bookie, you would be betting against another bettor. All you need to do is choose a horse, set your desired odds, and offer a stake. If another punter bets against your selection, the game is on.

Calculating the Payout for Show Betting

Let’s see how you calculate your potential payout with our show bets calculator:

  • Find out how big the total bet pool is.
  • See how much was bet on horses to rank second, third, or fourth.
  • Check the pool that will be divided among the winners.
  • Divide that by three (for three horses).
  • Divide the number you get by the number of winning tickets.
  • Double each amount.

Bottom Line

Whether they’re coming from the UK or US, every bettor enjoys the excitement of placing a new bet. If you’re one of those looking for new opportunities, show betting might be a good option. If you’re into horse racing, show bets are a great way of wagering and having better chances than you would have with win bets. Why not give it a try? Choose your horse and keep your fingers crossed.


What does it mean to bet to show?

Placing a bet on a horse to show, also known as show betting, is a situation in which a punter wagers on a horse to finish the race in one of the top places. In the US, a show bet is successful if a runner finishes in one of the first three places. On the other hand, in the UK, show bets in horse racing require a runner to finish second, third, or fourth for the bet to win.

​​What do place and show mean in horse racing?

In UK horse racing terminology, place betting means you are wagering on a horse to rank as one of the top three runners. Show betting means you’re wagering on it to show or finish the race in the second, third, or fourth spot.

​​What is “each-way” in horse racing?

An each-way bet is a combination of a win and a place bet. Instead of just placing regular win, place, or show bets, each-way bets offer more possibilities. They consist of two bets of equal cost: A bet on your selection to win the race and a bet for it to finish in a particular spot.