Superfecta is a betting game for two or more players. In Superfecta, players are betting on a horse race simulated by drawing cards from a deck. Players can simply bet on which horse they think will win, or can place more exotic wagers to try to predict the order of finish of two or more horses!
Superfecta is based on Horse Race, a much older game which appeared in John Scarne’s Scarne on Cards (written 1949, revised 1965). Horse racing has changed a lot since 1965, and so have card games. Bookmaking isn’t a part of horse racing anymore; horse betting is done with a parimutuel system, where the winning bettors are paid out from the bets of the losers. Fortunately, it’s much easier to implement such a system in a card game than it is to play bookie—most people don’t have such a reflexive grasp of probability to allow them to quote odds in real time.
Thus, we’ve updated the old game of Horse Race to create a new game we call Superfecta. We’ve eliminated the bookmaking, and worked in a few different wagers used in modern horse racing to add excitement to the game. We think the result is a smoother and more fun experience for your game night.
Object of Superfecta
The object of Superfecta is to win money by successfully predicting which of the four suits will win a race. Additional money can be won by successfully predicting the second, third, and fourth-place finishers.
To play Superfecta, you’ll need a standard 52-card pack of playing cards. Of course, using a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards will allow you to provide a polished and professional casino feel to your players.
You’ll also need something to bet with, like poker chips. Decide amongst your players whether you want them to represent real money or not. If so, each player buys their desired amount of chips. Otherwise, distribute an equal number of chips to each player. Determine what the minimum bet for each pool will be, for example $1. Additionally, you’ll need some paper and pen for each player to record their bets on.
The dealer will be responsible for managing three pots, each corresponding to the different types of bets available in the game. The three pools should clearly be labeled “WIN”, “EXA”, and “SFC”. You can create a betting layout on a piece of posterboard or felt. Another option is to place each pot in a bowl, or use the indentations in a cupcake tin. The exact form of the layout isn’t important, as long it clearly establishes which bet each pile of chips belongs to.
Remove the four aces from the deck and line them up on a horizontal row. This row represents the starting gate. Then, shuffle the remainder of the deck and deal a column of six cards perpendicular to the starting line, forming the rail. Refer to the attached image for an example layout.
Before placing any bets, the players can take a look at the rail to determine the probability of each horse winning the race. The more frequently a suit appears in the layout, the fewer cards of that suit are in the rest of the deck. Therefore, the more cards of a given suit are on the rail, the less likely that suit’s horse is to win.
After each player has decided on what they would like to bet on, they write down their name and their wagers on a slip of paper (their ticket) and pass it, along with the money needed to cover the wagers, to the dealer. Each wager must also list the horses the bets are placed on. The dealer verifies the correct amount of money has been provided. They then place the money in the three betting pools, according to the player’s bets. The dealer retains the ticket until later.
Types of wagers
There are three types of wager available to players: the win, exacta, and superfecta. Players may make bets on as many of these different wagers, or none of them, as they wish. The amount of each bet alone must equal the minimum bet. If the player chooses to bet a greater amount, it must be a multiple of the minimum bet. A player may make multiple bets of the same type, but must bet at least the minimum on each.
The three types of bets are:
- Win (WIN): A bet on one particular horse to win. The player is only paid if this horse wins the race.
- Exacta (EXA): A bet on a horse to win, and a second horse to come in second. The horses must finish in the exact order listed on the ticket (their order cannot be reversed).
- Superfecta (SFC): A bet on the exact order all four horses will finish in.
On their ticket, players list each bet on its own line, starting with the amount of the bet, then the type of bet, then the horses (in order) the bet covers. For brevity, horses can be listed as “H”, “D”, “C”, and “S” for hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades respectively.
Here is an example showing how a player might fill out their ticket. In parenthesis is what needs to happen for that bet to win (this is for illustrative purposes, a player would not need to write this out). The minimum bet in this game is $1.
- Player: James
- $2 WIN D (diamonds comes in first)
- $1 EXA D/C (diamonds comes in first and clubs comes in second)
- $1 EXA C/D (clubs comes in first and diamonds comes in second)
- $1 SFC D/C/H/S (horses place in this exact order)
This ticket would have a total price of $5. Note that both exacta wagers cannot win here; the player is making multiple bets of the same type to increase the likelihood of realizing a payout from at least one bet.
Running the race
After all players have placed their bets, the race begins! The dealer begins to deal cards, one at a time, from the stock. With each card dealt, the ace of that suit is advanced one space toward the end of the line (using the rail cards as a guide). The dealer continues drawing cards until one ace crosses the finish line (i.e. seven cards of that suit have been dealt). That horse wins the race. Further cards are dealt to determine the second- and third-place finishers, with cards belonging to already-finished horses simply being ignored.
After the order of finish has been determined, the bets are paid out. The dealer checks the tickets to determine who has a winning bet. A player with a winning bet takes the pool of that bet type. If there are multiple players with a winning bet, they divide the appropriate pool among themselves as evenly as possible. Any remainder, as well as pools that have no winning bets, are carried over to the next race.
Game play continues until a predetermined number of races (such as 12). After this race, any money left in the pools is divided equally among the players.
If you give this game a try, let us know what you think in the comments! Any suggestions that would improve the game would be appreciated.
Horse Race is exactly what it says in the name—a simulated horse race, done with cards. Whichever player bets on the winning suit wins their bet.
Object of Horse Race
The object of Horse Race is to win money by successfully predicting which of the four suits will win a race.
To play a game of Horse Race, you’ll need one standard 52-card deck of playing cards, like Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You will also need chips or something similar for players to bet with.
One player should be selected as dealer and banker. The banker will be responsible for paying out the winners, so they are entitled to set the minimum and maximum limits on betting according to their ability to cover the bets.
Remove the four aces from the deck and place them in a horizontal line. Deal six cards from the deck in a vertical line, perpendicular to the four aces. The rest of the deck becomes the stock.
The banker and players look at the six cards in the layout. The more times a suit appears in the layout, the fewer times it appears in the rest of the deck, and therefore the less likely it is to win. The banker announces the odds that will be paid on a winning bet on each suit. These odds may be whatever the banker feels is appropriate; however, it should be noted that if they are not reasonably fair, they simply won’t get any bets.
Some guidance on quoting odds: the less likely a suit is to win, the higher the possible payout should be. If the four suits are close to equally represented in the layout, the suits should all pay even money. For more information on this topic, the Wikipedia article on mathematics of bookmaking may be helpful.
Once the odds have been quoted, the players place their bets on whichever suit they want by putting their bets below the ace of the appropriate suit. Care should be taken to ensure that different players’ bets remain separate and identifiable.
When all players who wish to bet have done so, the race begins! The banker begins dealing cards, one at a time, from the stock. As each card is dealt, the ace of the same suit is advanced one space toward the end of the line (using the cards in the layout as guides). The banker continues drawing cards until one ace crosses the finish line (i.e. seven cards of that suit have been dealt). The bets on that ace are then paid out according to the previously determined payout amount, and the bets on the other three aces are collected by the banker.