What Is An Exacta Box in Horse Racing and Sports Betting?
by Doc's Sports - 10/11/2014
To understand what an exacta box is, we have to start by understanding an exacta. That is an exotic bet in which you have to pick the horses that will finish first and second in a race. To win you have to also correctly pick the order in which they will finish. It’s one of the simpler exotic bets available to bettors.
While it is simple to understand it isn’t always simple to win. The reason is just plain math. In a typical eight horse field there are 56 different potential exacta combinations. Only one will be a winner. You need a good combination of handicapping skill and luck to pick that winner - especially if you are only betting one combination in a race. Bettors that want to improve their chances will often bet on more than one combination in a race. One easy way to do this is with an exacta box.
Simply, an exacta box is a way to play every exact combination with a group of horses. If you liked three horses in a race equally, for example, then you could do a three horse exacta box. There are six different exacta combinations involving those three horses - #1 first and #2 second, 1-3, 2-1, 2-3, 3-1 and 3-2. You are betting all six combinations with your exacta box, and will have a winning ticket if any of the six combinations prove to be correct. Of course, you are also paying for each combination, and even if you have a winner you are sure to have five losers, so you need to make sure that the potential payoff is high enough to justify the investment.
You can box any number of horse in an exacta box - from just two right up to every horse in the race. The cost of these bets can very quickly get out of hand, though. A four horse $2 exacta box, for example, costs $24, and a five horse $2 exacta box ould costs $40. Because of the quickly escalating costs, and because you inevitably don’t like all of the combinations that you are betting in a larger box, this isn’t a bet that you want to use in all circumstances, and it isn’t one that sophisticated bettors are likely to use a lot. They are more likely to use some sort of exacta wheel to make a more refined, effective bet.
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