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Top 5 Betting Games

Betting Games Long Shot

I am not embarrassed to admit I have never placed a bet in the real world (in a betting shop or online), but give me a game where betting is one of the core mechanisms and I go crazy and throw my money / points around like there is no tomorrow. I started to think about all the different types of betting games I like and realised there are so many things you can bet on. So I have made this list of my Top 5 Betting Games and I have tried to include five different activities the betting revolves around.

1. Horses – Long Shot The Dice Game

I thought I would start with the traditional betting activity of horse racing and this year a new contender for best horse betting game was released, Long Shot The Dice Game. This is a great game that plays well for all player counts but gets especially rowdy at the higher end.

You have two dice, an eight sided die for the horses and a six sided die (with numbers 1, 2 & 3) for the movement. When any horse moves it also drags along other horses according to the horses card. Then all players use the horse die to make bets, unlock special powers, purchase horses and mark off horse cards to increase which ones get pulled along next time.

There is some ‘take that’ in the game as you can make horses go backwards but it is such a quick game that it doesn’t really matter who wins or loses as you can just play again.

2. Cars - DownForce

Another favourite betting past time is on car racing. Downforce is not only one of my favourite betting / racing games it is also in my top 5 games of all time.

The whole game is controlled by cards which have some or all of the six cars represented with numbers ranging from one to six. At the beginning of the game you will use your cards to auction ownership of the cars. Then during the race you will use these cards to move the cars forward.

At three points during the game a car will pass the betting line. When this occurs all players choose in secret who they think will win the race. This is where real tactics come into play as even though you want your own cars to do well for the prize money, you have to be realistic about which car might win. You may choose to bet heavily on an opponent and then push them forward at every opportunity which may come as a surprise to them as they decided to bet on someone else's car.

The betting payouts decrease as the race progresses so early brave decisions can be the difference between winning and losing the game.

There are currently two excellent expansions, one of which includes animals that run around the track getting in the leading cars way, and I hope more expansions are released in the future.

3. Unicorns – Unicorn Fever

So now we are heading into the fantasy world of Unicorn Racing. Yes you read that correctly Unicorns.

This is a step up in complexity compared to Long Shot the Dice Game as this game includes placing bets, using magic cards to alter the outcome of the race, hiring clan members to assist you and hinder your competitors, and watching 4 very exciting races all in the hope of winning the title of “Great Horn”.

Before each race you will be taking a series of actions that can alter the outcome of the race quite significantly and then the race is off. Race cards are flipped over one at a time and the unicorns will race towards the finish line. After each race card is resolved the race dice are rolled and some of the unicorns will move again. You repeat this process until all of the unicorns have crossed the finish line. Bets are calculated as well as glory points and then you have 3 more races. At the end of the game the player with the most glory is crowned the Great Horn.

4. Mythical Creatures - Equinox

Fully into the fantasy world now with Equinox a game all about Mythical Creatures battling it out in a battle royale game. The back of the box tells you that the creatures are battling to be last three standing so they can enter the Legendary Story Book but I like to pretend it is more like a cage fight and at the end the last three creatures are covered in the blood of their competitors.

The game includes both hidden bets and bets on display so at all times you may think you know how your competitors are doing but in reality the hidden bet could really catch you out.

The game includes fourteen different types of mythical creatures but in each game you will only play with eight chosen at random so no two games play the same. Each creature has their own unique special power but you can only use these if you are currently in control of the creature. You take control by placing your betting stones on the creature cards as you place them. This is good because you can now utilise their power but bad because everyone else now knows you are betting on that creature and will try their hardest to eliminate them as soon as possible.

Cards are placed until all creatures have at least one card in their column and then the creature with the lowest numbered card is eliminated. You continue to do this until there are only 3 creatures remaining or if the draw deck becomes empty.

I think this game might have flown under the radar when it was released which is a real shame as it is really good fun with some real tense moments as well as one of the best betting games.

5. Camels – Camel Up 2nd Edition

You would think this was fantasy as well but no, Camel Racing is real and one of my favourite game day games.

Whenever we have people over to play games this is one of my favourites to teach people. The concept is easy, there is a camel race and everyone will be betting on who they think will be the winner each leg of the race and for the race overall. But there are a couple of catches; firstly the black and white camels haven't got the memo and will be running the wrong way around the race track and secondly the camels stack on top of each other.

This has to be one of the funniest games I own. Watching as the camels climb onto each others backs which means the camel you thought would definitely win is now at the bottom of the pile of 5 camels and now in last place.

You can place tiles on the track to slightly alter the outcome but in this game it mostly falls down to luck which one of the camels will win. The trick to winning this game is knowing when to place bets on who will win and unusually who will lose.

I hope you like my list of my Top 5 Betting Games and maybe you feel like trying them out. Just remember betting in a board game costs you nothing whereas betting in the real world can be a dangerous game.

Editors note: This post was originally published on 16th August 2022. Updated on March 13th 2024 to improve the information available