There are a lot of ways to play the ponies. The first and most standard way is to take your money, go out to the track, make your choices and take your chances. This is all well and good if you live in a city large enough to support a track and it is in season. In some places you can go to an off-track site that houses the ability to bet at multiple tracks at the same time. You don’t get the thrill of being at the track, but you do get the excitement of the race.
Of course you can go to on-line gambling sites like CrisHorses or YouBet, you place your bet and wait till the results are announced. That is not as much fun because there is not the thrill of watching the actual race. There is a way around this, but it costs extra to get a live feed of the races direct to your computer, but in my opinion it is well worth it. Also, before using a site like this you should examine the laws in your area on the legality of use of these types of sites in your location. There may also be prohibitions against on-line gambling in your state.
A third way is to join a site that sponsors handicapping contests. Some of these include DailyHandicappingContests, a daily site, and PublicHandicapper, a weekly site. There are also seasonal sites such as the Run for the Roses contest that is a free, begins in February, and runs though the Kentucky Derby.
How do they work? They are all different, in that they have specific rules to each contest. For example, at the Horseplayer World Series, which is an on-site event, each player makes 11 $20 win and $20 place mythical wagers at selected tracks. You can bet on any race from those tracks. More than one horse can be selected per race, but each wager must be for a $20 win and $20 place. This way, in theory, you can cover yourself if you are sure that these two horses will finish one and two.
Full track odds are paid on both win and place for the first $2; for the remainder, a 19-1 cap on the win and 9-1 on the place. If a horse scratches, then you get zero points and the horse must be re-bet. The point totals accumulate for the three days. Each participant is allowed only one entry and there are no partners allowed.
There are also side contests as well. On Saturday there is a Last Chance Get-Even pool with possible prizes to $10,000 and a Beat the Champions Contest on Sunday. The main contest has a first place prize of 50 percent of the entry fee. Last year that totals over $367,000. Even 30th place took home over $1,800.
This type of venue is great because you are at a track, competing against others who also trying to beat you and you get the live feeds to the races. Throughout the year, there are many tracks who offer one, two, and three day events. It would be impossible list all of them, but check the tracks near you for handicapping events.