Games Development Website - David Bolton

Odds On

Apologies for images- I've converted this from Ms Word and it's taking a bit of tidying up.

The Horse race game with a difference. Email:

A 3-5 player card game, playing time 30-45 minutes.

Each playeris a bookmaker who sets prices (Gambling odds) on horses during a series of races at a race meeting. There are five races at the meeting with 8 horses in the first race, seven in the next down to four in the last. Winning and second place horses win points for the bookies whose odds are on those horses. The longer the odds or the better the horse or jockey, the fewer the points gained. The winner is the player with the highest number of points at the end. One player should keep totals.

Starting the Game

The 104 cards should be sorted into five piles, with each pile shuffled and placed on the table face down. Pile 1 is the 52 Starting Price Cards (SP Cards) plus the 12 special cards. After shuffling, six cards should be dealt to each player.

Pile 2 has six racetrack/weather cards.

Pile 3 has eight start-gates cards.

Pile 4 has 13 horse cards.

Pile 5 has 13 jockey cards.

Space should be left for a discard pile.

Place the six start gates on the table next to each other. The playing area should look something like this- the exact placing of piles isn’t important.

Card Layouts







SP Cards








Before the first race

Pick the top track card – this will be the track used for all races in this meeting. Now turn over another track card. In the top right corner is a weather symbol. This determines the weather for all the races..

Game Play

Every race has three parts: Drawing horses and jockeys(1), followed by Setting the odds(2) then Running the race(3).

Drawing Horses and Jockeys

Shuffle both piles. Take the top card from the horse pile and the top card from the jockey pile. Put these by Start gate 1. Do this for all the gates: Eight gates in race one, seven in race two.. four in race five). Horse and jockey details should always be visible to players

Setting the Odds

Starting with the player left of the dealer, each player plays a card (SP Card or Special) on a horse, or passes or throws away a card to the discard pile and takes a replacement card from the SP pile.

If you play a special card it can be played on any horse- just place it next to any other special cards on that horse, so all can be seen. SP cards can only be played on a horse without an SP card, or on a horse with an SP card if the played card is suitable to play on it. If you have no playable cards you must pass or discard.

An SP card is suitable to play on an existing SP if the price is the next price above or below the existing SP card price. If the price being played is 3:1, then it can only be played on 2:1 or 4:1 but not on say 1:2 or 5:1. All SP cards shows the two prices that it can be played on. I.e. the 4:1 SP Card shows that it can be played on 3:1 or 5:1. When you play an SP card on another, discard the old SP card.

When you play an SP card on a horse, take that horses start-gate marker and put it in front of you. This shows that the current price on the horse is yours. When another player plays on it, he gets the start-gate marker from you. You can have any number of markers in front of you.

SP Card Pile empty

When you play/discard a card, take another from the SP Pile. When this pile is empty, take all the discarded cards, shuffle and reuse them. At the end of your turn, you should always have six cards in your hand.

Playing Special cards

A special card can be played any time and the result applied immediately.  There are 12 special cards as shown in the table below.





Touch of Mustard

+2 to Horses Rating.


Fails Dope test

Horse replaced by next horse from horse pile.



Ground softens one category for this race and all at this meet.


Jockeys falls off

Horse out of race. Bets cancelled


Horse tampered

–2 to Horses Rating


Tipper’s selection

+1 to Horses Rating


Jockey paid off

-3 to Horses Rating.



Swap this horse with any other of your choice in race.


Handicapped Heavy

-1 to Horses Rating


Public loves Horse

+1 to Horse Rating.


Jockey kidnapped

Remove Jockey and replace with the next one from jockey pile.


Remove Bets

All Horse’s bets and special cards are discarded.

For cards 2,8, 11 and 12 discard the card after playing. For all others leave the card by the horse.

Typical Layout

SP Card






SP Cards






In this example, special cards have been played on Horses 1 and 5, and the race will start when horse 1 has an SP card played on it.

Running the Race

This race starts when all horses have got SP cards. It happens after a player plays an SP card on the last horse or Special Card 4 (Dope test) removes the only horse without an SP.

Calculate the ratings of each horse, adding the jockey’s rating and any pluses or minuses from Special Cards, Track Penalty/Bonus and Going Bonus as shown in the Calculating the Rating section below to give a total rating for each horse.

The highest Total rating horse wins and the player with the starting gate for this horse gets 1st Place Points. The next rated horse gets Runner-up points. Each SP Card, jockey and horse card has a  $ rating shown at the bottom of the card. Green $ are good (the bookie makes money), Red $ are bad (the bookie loses).

1st Place Points = Total of (Horse + Jockey + SP Card) $ Ratings

Runner-Up points  = SP card $ Rating.

Add up the green $ and subtract the red $.  This is your profit/Loss for this race. The Runner-up points are just the $ rating from the SP Card alone. Add these to your total for all of the races.

If two or more horses draw for first place then each player gets the 1st Place points. If there is a draw for second place, each player gets Runner-Up points.

Weather Symbols

Wqeather effects on Going





















This table shows the effect of the weather. Dull weather doesn’t affect the Track Going. Wet weather softens the going by one category, e.g. Hard becomes Good. Sunny has the opposite effect so Soft becomes Firm while heat-wave has a double effect turning Soft into Good. No track can become softer than Soft or harder than Hard.

Calculating the Rating for a Horse

Take the horse value, and add the jockey value to it. If the horse likes this course add two to the rating. If it dislikes it, subtract one. If the horse likes the going (modified by the weather) add one. Add all Special card ratings. This is the total Rating for that horse.


Horse : Red Bum          = +5

Jockey : May Cabette    = +3

Dislikes Track               = - 2

Like Going                     = +1

Rating                            =  7

Next Race

The horse cards are shuffled back into the horse pile, the jockey cards into the jockey pile and all SP cards and Specials that were played on horses go into the discard pile, players hold on to their cards. 

Remove one starting gate after each race so there are 8,7,6,5 and 4 horses in the five races. Now draw the Horses/Jockeys again. ‘Setting the Odds’ on races 2-5 starts with the player to the left of the player who started the last race. After five races, total up the score.

Queries, rules suggestions etc to

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