Horse Race

Horse Race layout

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.

Game play

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.

If you’re playing for a while, it’s probably a good idea to have the bank rotate between players every few hands or so.