Understand the races

Betting at the races

The majority of bets on the racecourse are taken through automatic betting machines that accept cash, cards, and betting vouchers. The tellers behind the betting counters can also take your bets and remunerate you directly in cash.

The different bets available

Bets can be made on every race in the programme. Each individual one on offer is marked beside each race in the official racecard. These are the same that the PMU offers at its 12,000 outlets across France, but not on the websites of different online operators, with whom it is now permitted to bet with on the racecourse as well.
Bets carry a minimum €2 stake at the races, with the exception of the 2sur4 and the Multi, where this rises to €3. For multiple combinations, it is however possible to bet with a minimum base of 25% or 50% (à verifier que j’avais bien compris) (mise Flexi). More details can be found at pmu.fr

  • Simple Gagnant (Win): Choose the winner
  • Simple Place: Choose one of the first three horses past the post (races with eight runners and more) or pick one of the first 2 horses past the post (races with 4 to 7 runners). This is the most common bet across the world. 
  • Couple Gagnant: Pick the first two horses in any order. It’s the easiest bet, and the most successful.
  • Couple Place: Choose two out of the first three horses in any order. Three different dividends are paid subject to the combinations. Example: The finish is 1-2-3. The payout is specific for the combination 1-2, another for the bet 1-3, and another on 2 and 3.
  • Couple Ordre: Pick the first two past the post in a race in the right order. One can play all the combinations, but the stake needs to be doubled. The return can however be extremely fruitful if the favourite is beaten by an outsider.
  • Trio: Pick the first three past the post in a race, in any order
  • Trio Ordre: Pick the first three past the post in a race, in the right order. To bet on all the possible combinations, the stake needs to be multiplied by six.
  • Tierce: Pick the first three past the post in order, with a reduced dividend for tierces not in the right order. To bet on all the combinations in the right order, the stakes need to be multiplied by six. This bet has made racing’s fortune since its creation in 1954. It was subsequently overtaken by the Quarte+ and Quinte+ (see below)
  • Quarte+: Inspired by the tierce, pick the first four past the post in order, with a reduced dividend for those not in the right order and a “Bonus 3” for the first three in any order. To bet on all the combinations in the right order, the stakes need to be multiplied by 24.
  • Quinte+: The star act on the PMU’s betting roster, this makes up of approximately 25% of daily betting, and it only applies to one race a day! Pick the first five past the post in the correct finishing order to win, although there are several reduced dividends that can be collected: Bonus 4 (first four in the any order), Bonus 3 (first three in any order), Bonus 4sur5 (four out of the first five). In addition to the first five in the right order, to win the “Tirelire”, a jackpot that can be worth as much as €10 million, you must have the correct “Numero plus” on your ticket, a number selected randomly from 1 to 3,000. The rules slightly differ when one bets with the PMU online on an “e-quinte”.
  • Multi: Inspired by Keno, this popular bet requires you to pick the first four horses past the post in any order, with the dividend differing depending on how many horses you have picked. With a selection of four horses (Multi 4), the dividend will be bigger than choosing a Multi5 (five horses), and a Multi6 and Multi7 for example. The Mini-Multi is available in races with less than 12 runners, and the principal difference is that there is no Multi7 available.
  • 2sur4: Choose two horses out of the first four past the post. The dividend is always the same no matter which horses you choose in contrast to Couple Places, where a different dividend is given for each combination.

The Odds

These are shown on the screens at the racecourse and at the bottom of the television on Equidia. They are shown as the odds for a simple winning bet. Each number (two columns: on the left the odds of a horse before the start of the meeting, and on the right the current ones) allows one to calculate the dividend when betting on a horse to win.

A lot of gamblers bet on the favourites in any given race, and in the event that these win, there will be several people sharing the winnings. In France, what we call the odds, is in fact the likely winning dividend. For example, if a horse has odds of 4,0 and you bet on it to win, you stand to earn four times your stake. The higher the odds, the more one stands to win, but it also means that the horse can be less certain to win. 

Les cotes
The odds shown on the big screen at Auteuil.

How To Bet

It is to be recommended that new gamblers initially stick to simple bets: wins or places, couples, and then potentially 2sur4. This is the best way to become used to racing, and a bet makes it all the more attractive, especially if you make it to the cash register afterwards!

Finding the first three, four or even five horses past the post in a race can elude even the experts, and the statistics show that each guess can be a big gamble (in a race with 10 runners, there are 720 different combinations for the Trio Ordre.

The majority of betting at the races is taken through betting machines, that accept cash, cards and betting cheques. If you have already used a ticket machine for the SNCF or at an airport, you won’t be lost. These machines, identical to those that are found in PMU outlets across the country, have been developed to making betting easier.

For simple combinations, making bets with these machines should be very straightforward, including for novices. Don’t forget to input the number of the racecourse meeting where you are, which is marked on the official programme.

Borne PMU
A betting machine at Maisons-Laffitte..

Tellers can also take your bets and pay out your winnings directly in cash (with a limit of €3,000 per ticket – if you win more, congratulations! This will then be sent to you by cheque or in credit slips, as you prefer.) On Sundays when there can be large crowds, PMU helpers in green jackets will be there to guide you – like when checking-in at the airport.

Finally, mobile agents on the racecourse can also collect your bets on their tablets and give you advice.

For further information: info.pmu.fr/comment-parier/guide-des-paris#!/guide-des-paris/quinte_plus/principe