Horse Race Drinking Game: Gallop into Fun-filled Nights

Giddy up, party people! Imagine the thrill of a live horse race, the cheering crowds, and the exhilaration of a photo finish, all from the comfort of your home. 

Welcome to the Horse Race Drinking Game, where laughter fills the room, camaraderie is as strong as a stallion, and fun is as fast-paced as a galloping racehorse.

So, saddle up and prepare for a fantastic drinking game ride into a night you won’t soon forget!

What Is the Horse Race Drinking Game?

The Horse Race drinking game is a card-based drinking game originating in the United States and Europe. It dates back to the early 1800s and has steadily grown in popularity, having been described as “the most controversial card game of all time.”

The objective of this game is simple: players bet on which suit they think they will win a “horse race” between four different horses (or aces). Players usually gamble with shots of beer for each round.

Players begin by removing all four Aces from a deck of cards, placing them side by side in order from left to right as if they were racing against one another. They then place twelve additional cards face down directly to the left of these Aces, representing the row where horse races occur.

Once everybody agrees on what type of alcohol they want to gamble with for their bets, each player places their bets on which Ace will win by moving drinks onto either end of it at any given moment (these are called “bets”).

Then once everyone has made their bets, an announcer concludes the setup phase by randomly shuffling and dealing eight more cards face‑down next across lanes starting from either end (this also serves as an extra obstacle course) until four suits remain–hearts clubs, diamonds spades.

Setting Up the Horse Race Drinking Game

Essential Items

To set up the Horse Race drinking game, you will need a standard deck of cards playing cards, beer, or any other alcoholic beverage, and a table to play on. 

The deck of cards is used to determine which horse moves forward. 

Beer or another alcoholic beverage acts as your betting funds. You can use tokens for more straightforward bets instead of drinks if desired. 

A table provides a larger surface area for setting up the game board – positioning four horses side by side and placing a row of face-down cards in front from which the announcer may draw when flipping them over one at a time until all eight have been dealt out evenly among each horse’s line.

How To Set Up the Horse Race Drinking Game: A Step-by-Step Guide

  • Gather the essential items: Playing cards, alcohol, and a table.
  • Deal eight cards from the deck and set them aside.
  • Find the four Aces, the horses in your race.
  • Arrange the Aces side by side on the short end of the table, face down, so they won’t tip over during play.
  • Place a row of 8 cards face down, perpendicular to the row of Aces. This is where players will place their bets before each round starts.
  • Place the remaining deck of cards face-down between all four horses at the race’s starting line. This is where card advancements will come from when playing each round.
  • Choose a referee or announcer responsible for shuffling/dealing cards and flipping horse cards at intervals throughout each round.
  • Have players place their bets before each round begins by choosing which suit they think will win (e.g., Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, or Spades) and determining how much they will bet (the amount of time they have to drink).
  • The announcer then shuffles and deals one card from the top of the deck to each Horse Ace (pointing towards the finish line) until one horse has four cards; this is how you play through your rounds!
  • Prepare for gameplay. Before each round begins, players will place bets to select which suit they think will win the race (e.g., Hearts Clubs Diamonds or Spades), as well as the amount of time they promptly drink if the suit wins (if multiple players bet on the same suit, their drinking time can be either average depending on preference).
  • Start gameplay. Set a five-second timer and have players watch as I announce who flipped what suited card belongs to what horse. Anyone who got it wrong must drink beforehand, or else have them wait till there’s a winner at the final. DRINK responsibly!!!

Rules and Gameplay of the Horse Race Drinking Game

Betting on Horses

In the Horse Race drinking game, players will bet on one of the four “horses” – or aces. 

The amount that must be bet is decided between all participating individuals before starting the game and can involve any drink as long as everyone accepts it.

Everyone bets different amounts (in drinks) on which ace (or horse) they think will win, much like in real-life horse racing. Bets are placed directly before each player for visual tracking during gameplay.

When an ace wins a race, whoever wagered money/drinks on that ace claims half of the pot while the other half returns to its owner, who no longer has a “horse” in this round’s competition. This mimics what happens if a player loses at real-life horse racing.

Dealing and Advancing the Cards

To begin the Horse Race drinking game, first deal eight cards from the remaining deck and place them face down on a table. These will form the “race track,” each card representing one of four horses – determined by their suit.

Aces are the horses in this game; Hearts is Red Horse, Clubs is White Horse, Spades is Black Horse, and Diamonds are Blue Horse.

The announcer then shuffles and turns over one card from the top of the deck—this will be a ‘link’ to indicate that “the race begins”! 

The suit of this link card determines how far each horse advances. For example, if it’s an Ace of Hearts or Red Horse, it moves forward one space. Any other suits fall behind by one space compared to the red horse, i.e., if its Club (White) – white moves no further, but black & blue slip back 1 step each (2 steps for blue).

Drinking Rules and Penalties

In the Horse Race drinking game, all players must pick a suit to bet on before the race begins that they believe will win. If their selected horse (ace) wins, they get to drink for the number of drinks they’ve bet when that ace crosses the finish line.

Before bets are placed, each player must take half of their total number of drinks and down it – this is done because it keeps things fair since nobody knows which horse(ace) will be announced first.

Also, if a player objects or continually breaks additional rules, such as not finishing bet drinks or skipping turns, you can require them to drink further punishments beyond what was initially wagered on one specific round.

For example – if someone doesn’t take enough sips off a single card while betting on Hearts, they have to take an extra sip every time another person draws a Heart during order-of-play rounds 1 & 2.

Strategies For Winning the Horse Race Drinking Game

The key to winning Horse Race is having a strategy. Unlike other card-drinking games where luck is the only deciding factor, the Horse Race drinking game relies heavily on well-calculated strategies and tactics to give you an edge in competition.

It’s essential that each player creates their distinct betting approach and hones it as they gain more experience with the game. 

One of the most popular techniques for playing this game involves looking at all four aces before entering into any bets or drinking penalties to determine which ace has a higher chance of coming out on top based on the number of cards remaining in circulation.

Players should use their knowledge about card distribution among suits during attempts to land their bet on that coveted first horse. 

Mapping out who owns what cards are also essential when determining how likely certain horses are to win over others throughout rounds since different plays can yield different results every time someone shuffles up some cards.

Variations and Twists To the Horse Race Drinking Game

Here are some  variations and twists to make the Horse Race drinking game more fun: 

Themes and Decorations

You can take the Horse Race drinking up a notch by incorporating themes and decorations to make it more exciting and unique.

By adding these elements, both old and new players will feel the thrill of being in an actual horse race with all of its frills! 

Some possible themed decorations or props can include: 

  • Horseracing-themed apparel
  • Horseshoe-shaped confetti
  • Miniature toy horses
  • Jockey hats
  • Betting boards/sheets 
  • Banners with famous horses’ names or hoof print tablecloths.

Obstacles And Challenges For The Horses

Adding obstacles and challenges to the Horse Race Drinking Game is an excellent way to make it more exciting and challenging. A “hurdle” track with three beverage cans stacked across the table for each horse can add an obstacle element to the game. The first Ace who knocks over all three beer cans wins!

Other potential obstacles or challenges players can add include:

  1. Place toys along with chips between each card. When all four horses have passed through them, the finish line.
  2. Three-dimensional tunnel (the cardboard box pieces placed side by side ) so that he gets double movement when a horse passes through it.
  3. Balance beam made out of lollipop sticks—wherein participants must carefully move their chosen ace forward without knocking off any cans/pieces placed on top of it.
  4. An audio or video clip that plays during the betting time which requires players to guess what will happen next for some form of bonus reward etc
  5. Having random rolls displayed on dice near the players where they keep guessing what number appears as every succeeding die number enables further progression in advancements and speed of play.

Unique Betting Options And Drinking Penalties

  • Betting on Colors – Players can bet on the color of the suit that will win. Players can choose how much everyone else has to drink if they bet correctly. However, if they are wrong, they must drink twice as much.
  • Betting on Obscure Factors – Players can also bet on more unknown factors, such as what brand of card deck will be used or which animal is depicted on the face of each card. If a player is correct, they get to assign drinking penalties to others, and if they are wrong, they will have to drink twice as much as their wager.
  • Declaring Showdown – A classic twist for this game includes having players declare a “showdown” before the final card is flipped over. Each player must pick one horse they think will win and place a wager of drinks, chips, or any other commodity that all participants agree upon. The winner gets their pick of drinks from the losers’ stash, while the loser has to drink all their drinks in one sitting.
  • Winner Takes All or Nothing – Players can decide whether each round is winner-takes or nothing to increase the stakes. This adds an element of excitement and risk-taking because it means someone could lose every bit of their drinks in one round if luck isn’t on their side!
  • Penalties for Talking – A more lighthearted rule is adding a penalty for any chatter during the race, requiring players who talk too much to take an extra shot or two!

Famous Horse Races To Bet On

Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is the most widely-viewed horse race in the United States and one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world. 

It takes place annually at Churchill Downs, in Louisville, Kentucky, on the first Saturday of May.

Every year around 170,000 people attend to witness three-year-old Thoroughbreds compete over a distance of 1¼ miles. 

At stake is a hefty purse worth $3 million for owners breeding their horses since birth, specifically for this significant event.

A full day at the Kentucky Derby features 11 to 14 races running throughout it, with parades, parties, and a fashion contest keeping guests entertained between races.

Preakness Stakes

The Preakness Stakes is an American thoroughbred horse race held each May on Armed Forces Day. It has been continually run for almost 150 years, first in Maryland and now at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore City.

The Preakness Stakes is the middle jewel of American thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown, which includes the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. 

Many great jockeys have won The Preakness over its long-running history, with Louis Schaefer’s 1929 win imposing as he later went on to train two winners himself.

Betting for the Preakness Stakes can be done online or through many venues across America offering wagers for this event, including books found at racetracks like Pimlico. 

Belmont Stakes

The Belmont Stakes is the oldest of the Triple Crown horse races, with the first race taking place in 1867. Its fame comes not only as the final leg of the prestigious Triple Crown Series but also from its reputation as “the Test of Champions.”

While many horses have raced over its 154 years, only ten have broken a 2:27.00 barrier, and among them are three Triple Crown champions! 

At each Belmont Stakes, a signature drink – The Belmont Jewel made with whiskey, lemonade, and pomegranate juice – is served all day to celebrate this momentous event in thoroughbred racing history.

Notable moments include Secretariat finishing his winning 1973 run at 1min 59 seconds flat to making American Pharaoh seek a historic fourth win since Affirmed last did it 40 years ago in 2015.

Understanding Betting Odds and Terminology

One of the most essential aspects of understanding horse race betting is learning about the various types of bets and associated odds. 

Betting on horses involves identifying which horse will come in first, second, or third, and different bets require players to wager on these matches accurately.

Commonly placed bets include straight win, place, show, exacta box (betting for a 1-2 finish), and trifecta box (betting for a 1-2-3 finish). 

Other more complicated wagers like “wheeling” are less common but used by serious betters since they can increase chances of winning and return higher payouts if successful.

The terminology used when placing such bets matters almost as much as predicting the outcome correctly with accurate selections of the horses involved in each race. 

Knowing terms like money lines (odds), payout amounts per standard $1 winner stakes, and superfectas allows novice bettors to wade into an intimidating yet fascinating realm with confidence by exercising basic knowledge when making their choices.

Horse racing events usually carry distinct betting formats that adjust according to the number of participants at any given event, as races with single individual entries. 

Accurately calculating financial opportunities rooted deep within actual past outcomes requires careful attention. That’s why research is prudent before engaging deeper into riskier fixed-cost systems like progressive pools. 

FAQs for the Horse Race Drinking Game

How many people can play the Horse Race Drinking Game?

The more, the merrier! You can have as many players as you want. Each player represents a horse in this thrilling race.

What do I need to play the Horse Race Drinking Game?

All you need is a deck of cards, a group of friends, and your favorite beverages. 

What’s the main objective of the Horse Race Drinking Game?

The objective is simple – predict the winning horse (card suit) and avoid the drinks!

Is the Horse Race Drinking Game suitable for any event?

Absolutely! It’s perfect for parties, game nights, gatherings, and any event that could use a dose of excitement.

How long does a game typically last?

The duration can vary based on the number of players, but usually, it lasts around 15-30 minutes. 

Can I play the Horse Race Drinking Game without alcohol?

Yes, it’s just as fun with non-alcoholic beverages. Remember, the game is about fun and camaraderie, not just drinking. 

Final Take on the Horse Race Drinking Game 

The Horse Race drinking game is a popular drinking game many enjoy for its classic and easy gameplay. It sets the perfect ambiance for parties and social gatherings as it can be adapted into multiple unique settings with decorations, music, and other twists to make your game night more spirited.

Plus, players are free to determine their betting limits by using simple tricks like increasing the length of the race with multiple decks or choosing an even number of horses that aren’t connected to up their odds of success.

Dan Smullen Beer is my life profile

Hi, I'm Dan, founder of BeerIsMyLife. I've been an avid homebrewer for over ten years, and beer is my true passion. I've traveled all over the world, visiting breweries, tasting beer, as well as making my own batches. I set up this blog to share that experience with you.