What Is a Superfecta?

Superfecta wagers can bring horse racing bettors some of the biggest payoffs of their lives if they can hit a few of them now and then. To win a superfecta wager, you have to correctly predict the first four in the order of finish of a race. While that may sound impossible, the rewards for such a wager might just tempt you to go for it the next time you bet.

Superfecta Bet

There’s no other sport more commonly accepted for wagering throughout its existence quite like horse racing. While betting on baseball or football has been restricted by laws, wagering on horse racing has always been encouraged.

Because of this, horse racing has fine-tuned its system of wagering. As a result, you can find a bet that will fit every type of gambling desire you might possess.

Whether you’re looking for low-risk, low-volatility wagers or hoping to strike it big with a wager that’s difficult to hit, horse racing has something for you. And that’s true whether you’re gambling at the track or as part of a top online betting site.

Winning a Superfecta Horse Bet

Superfecta wagering definitely falls in the category of high volatility. It’s one of the hardest wagers in the sport to get just right. To win a superfecta, you have to predict the order of finish for the first four spots in the race. Considering all of the possible combinations available to you in horse racing fields, you have to get lucky to hit a superfecta.

You can certainly help your chances out by doing homework on the race that you’re betting. By attempting to decipher how a race might play out, you just might be able to narrow down your choices. Once you narrow them down, the idea of hitting a superfecta won’t seem so far-fetched.

There are also ways you can adjust the bet to put the odds more in your favor. Of course, every adjustment you make usually means including more combinations on your betting ticket. And that will bring down your chances for profit. Such a maneuver will either increase the amount you have to bet or decrease the amount you can potentially win.

Of course, none of that might matter to you if it means you have a shot of hitting a superfecta. After all, the payouts for a winning superfecta tend to be substantial. For just a few dollars wagered, you can easily end up with winnings in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

That’s why some people think real money superfecta betting is similar to playing the lottery.

Even with great handicapping skills, you’re likely going to need a little luck to have even a slight chance of winning. Yet this will always be an attractive bet because of the potential awards that await you if you win.

In the following article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to take part in some superfecta action of your own. We’ll tell you how the bet works, the economics, and how you can adjust the bet to cover as many possibilities for winning. And we’ll go over some strategies that will hopefully assist you in winning some superfectas of your own in the near future.

How a Superfecta Wager Works

When you make a wager on a horse race, you can essentially break it down to two distinct possibilities. There are straight wagers, which allow you to bet on the outcome of a single horse in a single race. And there are exotic wagers, which allow you to include multiple horses in your bet in the hopes of winning more in one fell swoop.

The most common types of straight bets are win, place, and show. Those allow you to wager on the horses you think will come in first, second, or third, respectively in a race. These are the simplest wagers you can make on a horse race.

Exotic wagers, on the other hand, represent bets that aren’t for sure. In fact, your odds are long that you’ll hit one in a particular race. But the monetary reward you do get for winning an exotic wager is significant enough to make some of the losses worth it.

Exacta, trifecta, and superfecta bets in horse racing form the most popular exotic wagers available to you within a single race. And you might be able to tell by the names how they all work. An exacta asks you to nail the first two in the order of finish in a race, while a trifecta requires you to get the top three. Then, what is a superfecta bet?

Well, as you might assume, the superfecta requires you to pick the top four finishers in a given race. In other words, if you were to bet a 7-5-3-4 superfecta, you would win if #7 came in first, #5 came in second, #3 came in third, and #4 came in fourth in the official order of finish.

Note that we said the “official” order of finish. Many people don’t realize that the race is only official until judges or stewards assigned to the track confirm the results.

For example, there might be a race where #1 crosses the finish line first, followed by #3, #6, #4, and #2. Imagine that you had bet the 3-6-4-2 superfecta. You might think you lost.

But what if the judges looked at the replay of the race and determined the #1 horse had caused major interference in the race and they decided to place him last?

Suddenly, with #1 out of the picture, the 3-6-4-2 bet would be the official order. That’s why you should never give up on your tickets until you see the “official” sign come up on whatever screen you’re watching the race.

It probably isn’t hard to understand that a superfecta can be extremely tricky to hit. Imagine a field with eight horses. There are 1,680 possible combinations that could come up involving those eight horses among the top four finishers.

Although your chances are technically 1,680 to 1, you have to remember that many of those combinations will be highly unlikely to occur due to the circumstances of the race. Ideally, you can narrow it down and make a wager based on a strong likelihood of the horses that might hit the top 4. But that isn’t easy when you’re playing only one possible combination.

That’s why you can also box a four-horse superfecta combination to increase your chances of winning. In a superfecta, you still need the top four in the order of finish on your ticket. But you will win regardless of their order in the top 4.

Let’s go back to the example above when you picked a 7-5-3-4 superfecta. If you bet just $2 on that exact combination, that is called betting it straight. You will win only if the horses come in that exact order in the top 4.

But let’s say that you decided to box that 7-5-3-4. Here are the combinations that can come in to make you a winner:

  • 7-5-3-4
  • 7-5-4-3
  • 7-3-5-4
  • 7-3-4-5
  • 7-4-5-3
  • 7-4-3-5
  • 5-7-3-4
  • 5-7-4-3
  • 5-4-7-3
  • 5-4-3-7
  • 5-3-7-4
  • 5-3-4-7
  • 3-7-5-4
  • 3-7-4-5
  • 3-5-7-4
  • 3-5-4-7
  • 3-4-7-5
  • 3-4-5-7
  • 4-7-5-3
  • 4-7-3-5
  • 4-5-7-3
  • 4-5-3-7
  • 4-3-7-5
  • 4-3-5-7

As you can see, you have more ways to win using a superfecta box. But, as you also might expect, you can expect to wager a lot more to get that done. We’ll explain it all in just a bit when we get into the economics of superfecta wagering.

How to Place Superfecta Bets

If you’ve never been to a race track or made real money wagers on horse races via gambling websites, you might be at a loss at how to make it happen. You might understand the concept of a superfecta but not know the protocol for making the wager.

Keep in mind, there are five pieces of information you will need to make any kind of horse racing wager.

  • The track
  • The race
  • The horses you’ve chosen
  • The amount of money you want to wager
  • The type of bet

No matter where and how you place your bet, you’ll need to have all of this in order. For some people who are technically savvy, you will be able to do this at an online horse racing betting site with no problem. Just find the respective drop-down selections on a horse racing betting page and you should be able to navigate it with no problem.

If you prefer to do your wagering in person, however, you’ll need to either go to the track hosting the race or to a facility that accepts off-track wagers and simulcasts those races. In either case, you should be able to find employees known as “tellers” to help you place your bets.

Inform the teller about your bet, give them the money required to make it, and receive a redemption ticket with all the pertinent information included. If you win the bet, you can return with the ticket and get paid in cash.

When you bet with a teller, make sure to double-check your ticket before you walk away. Tellers can make mistakes because they don’t hear you properly or they hit the wrong buttons. If you don’t realize there’s a mistake on your ticket and the race starts, it might be too late to do anything about it.

Here’s an example of what you might say to a teller about when superfecta betting:

“Saratoga, Race #4, I’d like a 4-3-5-7 superfecta.”

This sentence lets the teller know the track (Saratoga) and the race (#4) right off the bat, along with the type of wager you’re making (superfecta) and the numbers of the horses involved (4-3-5-7). Based on that, the teller can print out the ticket.

You’ll note that there’s no mention of the amount wagered even though we listed that as one of the pieces of information you must have. If you don’t say anything to the teller, they will assume a $2 wager. Should you want to adjust that amount, mention that right before the type of the bet.

The teller will also take the wager in question is a straight superfecta unless you say otherwise. You would have to tell them if you want to make it a box of some kind and how much you want the box bet to be (more on that when we get to costs and paybacks).

Finally, you’ll also notice that the names of the horses aren’t included. Tellers are not responsible for knowing the names of the horses, since there are so many different ones running on any given day. That’s why you should know the number of the horse (or horses) you’re betting on so you can relay this information.

Costs and Payoffs for Superfecta Wagering

When you make a superfecta, you can generally assume you will be making a bet that will pay you a lot of money back on a small wager. In fact, a $2 superfecta wager will pay you at least $100 a majority of the time. But how much you will get is generally a mystery until you see the final prices.

This isn’t the case for a win bet. When you bet on a horse to win, you’ll know exactly what your odds are for that bet. That’s because they’re listed next to the horse’s number on the screen.

For Example:

Imagine that you bet $2 on a horse to win at odds of 10 to 1. That means you will receive $10 for every $1 that you bet. As a result, you would win $20 (10 times 2 since you bet $2) as profit, with a payoff of $22 (which includes the return of your original $2 bet).

But how do you know how much you will get paid for a superfecta bet in horse racing? No track can give you the odds listings for 1,680 different superfecta combinations. (Remember that number came from an eight-horse field; more horses in the field means even more possibilities.)

While you won’t now how much you’ll get paid till after the race with a superfecta bet, you can know how that payoff is determined. Superfecta bets, like all other horse racing bets, are governed by a system known as pari-mutuel wagering.

Horse ImageIn pari-mutuel wagering, payoffs are awarded based on how much resides in different pools of wagered money. These pools are divided by type of bet then by the specific bets available in each type.

Let’s again use the example of an eight-horse field. If the exact same amount of money were doled out to each of the 1,680 betting combinations, you would know for sure that your payout would be 1,680 to 1. But that of course won’t be the case, as different combinations of numbers will receive more betting attention than others based on the talent of horses involved.
Imagine that you’ve decided to bet a 1-3-5-7 superfecta in a race containing eight horses. In this race, let’s say there’s $50,000 total wagered on all of the different superfecta combinations.

Before anything else is done, the race track that hosts the race will take some money out of the pool for their profit. That’s known as the takeout, and it’s represented as a percentage of the total pool.

If the takeout for superfecta wagering on that track is 20%, that means $10,000 of the $50,000 superfecta pool for that race will go to the track. That leaves $40,000. Of that, $100 was wagered on the 1-3-5-7.

By dividing $40,000 by 100, you come away with 400. Your odds for the superfecta you’ve played are 400 to 1. And that’s what you would get paid if that superfecta comes in.

If you were playing that superfecta straight with a $2 wager, it means you would get $800 in return for your bet. You can also bet more than $2, which would affect your payoff positively if you end up hitting the superfecta.

Keep in mind that the superfecta payout has nothing to do with win, place, exacta, or any other payouts. They’re all contained in separate pools. Don’t try to anticipate your payout based on any of these, even if sometimes there’s a correlation.

But what about a boxed superfecta?

Well, remember that you’re playing many more different combinations to box a superfecta. Your bet has to reflect that. You’ll notice above that there are 24 possible winning combinations available to you in a four-horse box. 24 multiplied by $2 would equal $48. That’s how much it would take to box a full-price superfecta.

Notice that we said “full price.” Many tracks allow you to halve your bet in return for half of the full payout. This reduces the size of your bet, but it also reduces your potential payoff.

This is known as a dollar (or $1) superfecta box. $1 is half of the $2 minimum. If your payout on a $2 superfecta bet was $1,000, a dollar box would only pay you $500 for an original wager of $24 (half of $48).

We’ll talk more about different ways you can include more horses in your superfecta coverage when we get to the strategy section. For now, just know you can be as creative as possible with the size of your bet and the amount of horses you include when you make this wager.

Winning a Consolation Superfecta

We’ve stated to this point that winning a superfecta requires to you to predict the top four in the order of finish prior to the beginning of the race. But there are ways to still win the bet without actually achieving that.

Remember how we said that superfecta payouts were determined by the pari-mutuel pools? Well, what would happen if not every one of the combinations possible received betting money? And, in turn, what would happen if one of those combinations with no money wagered on it were to win?

The track has to pay out the pool; they can’t just keep it because an uncovered combination happened to win. They’ll start paying off the bets that came closest to the winning combination.

Let’s say that you bet a 2-4-6-8 straight when superfecta betting online. The race ends with the combination of 2-4-6-7 coming in first through fourth. Normally, your bet, although close, wouldn’t get you any payout.

But what if no one in the entire pool placed their money on the 2-4-6-7? The track would then move to the next batch of tickets that were closest to that combination. They would pay off for any combination that had the #2 first, #4 second, and #3 third, regardless of what those combinations had for the fourth-place spot.

You would see something on the board like “2-4-6-ALL” or “2-4-6-(),” followed by the payoff amount. That just means any superfecta starting with 2-4-6 as the first three would pay off, and your 2-4-6-8 would qualify.

Of course, that also means 2-4-6-1 qualifies, 2-4-6-3, and so on. As a result, it might dilute your winnings a bit because the number of winning tickets might be higher than normal. Still, you would at least get something in return for your wager.

Strategies for Superfecta Wagering

Your method of handicapping a horse race to make a real money superfecta wager can be as involved or simple as you like. Some people will try to gather every piece of information they can on the horses involved when coming up with horse racing betting strategy. Others will simply pick their favorite numbers.

If you’re going to go the route of looking at past performances and other information contained in the racing program to determine the top horses, you have to beware of something. Due to the nature of horse racing, the first four finishers in the race don’t always represent the horses that performed the best in that particular race.

What often happens in the sport of horse racing is that a few horses will battle in the early going. One or more of these horses will fall back due to their effort. Meanwhile, horses who might have been sitting behind the pack can come flying up and finish either second, third, or fourth, even if they have no chance of winning.

That’s why it’s important not to simply rank horses when you’re thinking about your superfecta betting strategy. You might end up with the winner, but you’ll be frustrated if some of the ones you rated highly raced well but couldn’t sustain.

That’s not to say it can never happen that the top four in the race will coincide with the best four in the field. It’s just to say that you should be thinking of each place in the order as its own separate entity. Which horse is most likely to finish second, third, or fourth based on all the circumstances of the race?

When you diagnose the race as a whole, you’ll give yourself a better chance of making a correct superfecta wager. You can also increase your chances by employing a few good strategies that apply to this bet in particular. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Throwing out Horses

The act of “throwing out” horses is a symbolic one performed by a bettor when sitting down to handicap a particular race. It simply means you are eliminating certain horses from consideration. You can do it with just about any type of horse racing wager, but, in the case of a superfecta, you’ll be looking to throw out the horses you don’t believe will finish in the top 4.

It can be intimidating to look at a field with eight, 10, or even 12 or more horses and narrow it down to four. But it gets less daunting if you can take certain horses out of the mix. And, truth be told, most horse races will include a few or more horses who just don’t have what it takes to be in contention.

You do have to be careful when throwing out horses for a superfecta. After all, it’s not uncommon for even a weaker horse to sneak into fourth place when others falter. Try to make sure that the horses you leave out are well out of the mix, and it will allow you to make choices on the others more confidently.

Keying Horses

When you key a horse, or horses in a field, you’re essentially including them in every combination when real money superfecta betting. In terms of keying a superfecta, there are many different ways to do it. How you do it will depend on the circumstances of the race and the budget you have to bet.

You can key a single horse as the first-place finisher then include four or five others that you think have a chance of finishing second, third, or fourth. You can include two or three keyed horses, either specifying the order or boxing them. No matter how you do it, you’re essentially putting emphasis on the horses that you think will make the top four and hedging your bets on the others.

If you’re sure #1 will finish first and #2 will finish second in a particular race, there are four other horses in the eight-horse field that you think can conceivably finish third or fourth.

You can say something like, “In the superfecta, I’d like a key with #1 in first, #2 in second, and #3, #4, #5, and #6 boxed for third and fourth.” The following combinations would be winners:

  • 1-2-3-4
  • 1-2-3-5
  • 1-2-3-6
  • 1-2-4-3
  • 1-2-4-5
  • 1-2-4-6
  • 1-2-5-3
  • 1-2-5-4
  • 1-2-5-6
  • 1-2-6-3
  • 1-2-6-4
  • 1-2-6-4

As you can see, there are 12 possible combinations. For a full-price superfecta bet with those numbers, you’ll need to wager $24. For a dollar-bet (paying half of full-price), you’ll need $12.

Keyed superfectas can get as involved as you like them. When done correctly, you’ll get exposure to the horses you think have a chance while keeping the size of your bet under control.

Partial Superfectas Horse Racing Bets

Sites will try to spur superfecta betting online by including partial superfectas. What these bets do is lower the amount of money you need to wager to get exposure to a single combination, even while keeping the minimum bet of $2 intact.

If a track offers a 10-cent superfecta, you can play 20 different combinations for a $2 wager. Obviously, that gives you more chances to win.

Of course, the payout is then divided by 20 as well. In other words, if a superfecta bet were to pay off $200 at full price, it would only pay off at $10 ($200 divided by 20) at the 10-cent level.

The trick with partial superfectas is to divvy up the bets any way you want. Using the 10-cent superfecta as an example, you might want to play 20 different combinations. Or you could play one combination for a dollar’s worth, then split up the remaining $1 of the wager into 10 different combinations.

10-cent superfectas aren’t the only partial wagers you’ll see for this bet. 25-cent and 50-cent superfectas are also popular. It’s the track’s discretion how they will offer this wager, while online gambling sites might give you other options as well.

Partial superfectas greatly increase your chances of winning this otherwise difficult to bet. You just have to accept that the hefty payout often associated with the bet will be greatly reduced when you do it in this manner.

Test Your Skills at Superfecta Wagering

How Much Does It Take to Box Four Horses in When Superfecta Betting and Still Get Paid Full Price?

$48 because of the 24 winning combinations included.

Why Does “Throwing Out” Horses Help With Superfecta Wagers?

By eliminating horses, you can more easily diagnose the horses that have a chance of actually making the top 4 of the race in question.

Can I Expect a Large Payout From a Superfecta Win?

In most cases, superfecta betting will pay off over $100 for a $2 wager, with many payoffs ranging up much higher than that.

Conclusion on Superfecta Horse Racing Betting

For some people, the idea of winning a little bit here and there while betting horse races is more than enough. But others might not have the patience for such a grind, or they simply might want the chance at winning a lot in a hurry. Superfecta wagers give you that chance more than just about any other type of horse racing wager.

The drawback is that it’s an extremely hard wager to hit. But just one superfecta win in a week or so of wagering can often be enough for you to turn a profit. Using some of the strategies that we highlighted above, you can improve your chances to hit this unique wager.