What is a trifecta bet?

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If you are new to legal gambling, you may be wondering, what is a trifecta bet? A trifecta bet is a type of bet known as a parimutuel. For this type of bet, the bettor needs to choose the horses they think will place first, second, and third. The horses must finish in that precise order

But, there is much more to the trifecta bet in horse racing. So, you should keep reading to learn all you can about this exciting type of bet. You should be able to place a winning trifecta or any of its variations by the end of this article.

what is a trifecta bet

Trifecta Around the World

This type of bet is known as a trifecta in both the United States as well as Australia. Plus, it is also known in the United Kingdom as a tricast, in Hong Kong, it is a tierce, called a triactor by Canadians, and in France, a tiercé. And, there is a variation on the trifecta that is known as a “trio”, in which the order of the horses placed is not actually relevant. This version is available mainly in the Hong Kong and French markets.

trifecta table
Trifecta grid from Wikimedia Commons

Trifecta Bet Variations

So, as mentioned before, there are many variations of this type of bet. You will want to make sure you are familiar with all of the alternatives. That way, you can expect the best trifecta payout for the bets you place. 

Trifecta Box Bet

A trifecta box bet, or a boxed trifecta, is a trifecta in which a total of 3 horses are chosen. Then, the bettor triumphs if the 3 picked horses place first, but they can finish in any order. Placing a boxed bet is pretty much the same as placing a standard trifecta wager on all of the 6 combinations of outcomes for these chosen horses. 

To demonstrate, we will use a box trifecta example for horses we will call 4, 5 and 6. The bettor will win if the horses end in one of the combinations/outcomes listed below:

4, 5, 6

4, 6, 5

5, 4, 6

5, 6, 4

6, 4, 5

6, 5, 4

Now, you may be thinking about how much is a trifecta box? So, if you were to place a $1 box bet on 4, 5, and 6, it would cost you $6. This trifecta cost is the same amount that you can expect a regular trifecta to cost you. 

Trifecta Wheel

The trifecta wheel bet is centered around picking sets of horses to finish in first, second as well as third place. This trifecta betting strategy helps improve the chances of winning because 1 or more horses can be picked to finish in each place. So, that means that you should be able to place a wheel bet with less stress than a straight trifecta.


In this kind of bet, one horse, known as the banker, is picked to finish the race first. Plus, two or possibly more other selections are then placed as box bets to come in second as well as third. The banker must win in all of the combinations that are possible. 

To demonstrate what this means, we will use a horse called 1 , which will be the banker, plus the 3 other horses known as 2, 3 and 0. Then, there are a total of 6 potential outcomes for a bet that wins:

1, 2, 3

1, 2, 0

1, 3, 2

1, 3, 0

1, 0, 2

1, 0, 3

Roving Banker

Again, one horse, the banker, is picked to place in the top 3 positions. Plus, 3 or maybe more picks are box bets for the remaining 2 positions. The banker needs to place either first, second, or third in each combination that is possible. 

To use an example, where a horse called 6 is the banker, and horses called 3, 4 and 5 are the selections. Then, that means there are a total of 18 combinations to place a winning bet. Each needs to have horse 6 in the combination.

6, 3, 4

3, 6, 4

5, 4, 6

6, 3, 5

4, 5, 6, etc.

Average Trifecta Payout

Now, you could be curious about the average payout you can expect from a trifecta. That is a hard number to name. For instance, the average payout for smaller horse races is difficult to pinpoint.

However, the average payout for a trifecta bet for an event like the Kentucky Derby is around $7,000. So, you can see where a winning trifecta can be very beneficial for the bettor. And, you can use the major horse racing events as opportunities to place this kind of bet.

Trifecta Odds

Another important factor to consider when placing this type of bet is the odds. You will want to check out the odds listed for each of the horses when placing a trifecta wager. That way, you can be sure to place your wager on the horses that are most likely to place at the end of the race.

Using odds is important when it comes to your trifecta betting strategies. You can use odds to calculate the payout you would receive if you placed a winning bet. So, it can help you figure out how much you should wager.

How to place a trifecta online

Now, you may be curious about placing a trifecta online. First, you will want to find an online horse race betting website that is licensed to operate in your state. You must make sure you are eligible to open an account on the website. This most likely will be TVG or BetAmerica, which are legal in many states.

First, you should open an account on the horse race betting website. And, you should use a welcome offer to make the most of your bets. Then, you will need to place a deposit into your account.

After, you will want to figure out which horse race you will want to bet on. Next, you should choose the three horses you want to place a bet around. And, you should add that bet to your bet slip.

After adding the bet to your bet slip, you will need to choose the amount that you want to wager. Then, you can confirm the bet. Next, all you have to do is wait for the race to end to see if you won.

Trifecta Conclusion

A trifecta bet in horse racing is more complicated than it initially appears, because of the many variations that exist. But, it can be a good bet to place if you are unsure which horse is going to win the race. And, it increases your chances of placing a winning bet in some cases.

So, you can use this type of bet to spice up your horse race betting. And if you get good at placing this kind of bet, you can expect an exciting payout. Find more horse betting terms in our guides.