What is an Exacta Bet?

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Several horses and their jockeys race down a straight on a horse race track.
BetMGM @BETMGM Dec 03, 2022, 8:16 AM

If you’re interested in online sports betting because of the convenience and ease it offers, then being clued up on the different types of bets is crucial. When it comes to horse racing, specifically, you may be wondering what an exacta horse bet is. This is what we will discuss in greater detail in this article. Let’s dive straight in! 

What is an exacta bet?

An exacta bet, alternatively known as a perfecta, falls under a category of horse betting that’s referred to as exotic wagers. Exotic wagers require you to select more than one horse, and in the case of an exacta bet, you select the first two horses in a race. If you manage to accurately predict which horses will place first or second, the payout is greater than when betting on a horse individually.

Types of exacta bets

Categorized as exotic wagers, exacta bets also have different types within themselves. Let’s take a closer look at each of these in more detail below.

Straight exacta

With this type of bet, it is exactly as the name suggests. The two horses and placement that you bet on must be as is in order for you to win. If you happen to choose two horses but get the placement wrong, you lose.

For example, if you place a 6–3 bet for $4, you are essentially betting on horse #6 to win and horse #3 to win. Any other outcome will not see you walking away victorious.

Exacta box

This type of bet carries a relatively lower risk than the straight. Here, you are at liberty to select more than two horses, which increases your bet size. However, the upside is that your odds of getting a payout increase because you’re not limited to just the two horses that you think will be placed.

Exacta wheel

This type of bet requires you to pick one main horse that you’ll include in a variety of betting combinations. For example, if you believe that horse #6 is a likely winner, you will then form other wagers but keep horse #6 as a prime choice in all of them.

How to play the exacta key

Now that you have a better understanding of what is an exacta bet in horse racing, how to play the exacta key is worth knowing as well. Playing the exacta key requires you to pick one key horse that you predict will win. The placement of the other horses doesn’t matter too much because they can just place – so long as your key horse wins as predicted.

What is the difference between an exacta bet and an exactor bet?

Contrary to popular belief, an exacta bet is the same as an exactor bet, despite being spelled differently. In both cases, a successful wager requires you to select the horses in their winning order.

How to calculate an exacta payout

Exacta payouts can be lucrative, mostly because this type of betting isn’t necessarily easy. It’s simple and straightforward, but the chances of a successful wager are what make it challenging. Because of this, the payouts are appealing.

Exacta payouts are calculated based on the pari-mutuel system. A pari-mutuel system means that there are no fixed odds or an average payout. Instead, you bet into a pool. The money from the exacta bets collectively goes into a pool. Thereafter, that pool of money is distributed among the successful wagers after the track takes its portion from the prize pool.

A common question that arises from bettors is with regards to the payouts for an exacta bet and the payout for a trifecta bet, which is another type of exotic wager. With a trifecta bet, you bet on the first three horses in a race rather than the first two as you would in an exacta bet.

Given the odds and relative difficulty of a trifecta, it typically pays out more than an exacta bet. However, both payouts are affected by the combined bets. While exacta bets attract more people and are the popular choice between the two, trifecta bets tend to be more financially rewarding because not as many people go for that option.

Depending on how much people wager, the prize pool is typically distributed among fewer people in a trifecta bet than in an exacta bet. This means that if you place the exact score bet, then your portion of the winning prize pool can be bigger.

Explore a wide range of wagers at BetMGM

With a better understanding of what exacta betting is, you can now place your bets confidently in the hopes of winning big. You can get in on all the live betting action and more when you register at BetMGM. Visit our online sportsbook to explore the odds.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.