Handicapping Tip of the Day #54 – Risk Evaluation in Horse Racing

By Art Parker for agameofskill.com

In the financial world the “risk-return tradeoff” states that the potential return rises with an increase in risk. Individuals associate low levels of uncertainty with low potential returns, and high levels of uncertainty or risk with high potential returns. According to the risk-return tradeoff, invested money can render higher profits only if the investor will accept a higher possibility of losses.

What exactly is risk? Risk is the likelihood of an adverse event occurring within an identifiable sector, such as the private sector or government sector. Those who are risk analysts often work with forecasting professionals to minimize future negative unforeseen effects.

Profit Risk Evaluation in Horse RacingLet’s look at what happens when you go to the bank for a loan. The bank asks you to complete the application first. Why? This is the primary method by which the bank can analyze you as a risk. If the application looks good the bank orders a credit report, which is a critical way to evaluate you as a risk. If the bank then lends you the money it will tell you the terms, which is primarily the interest rate and other things. If your interest rate is lower than most, it is because you are a good risk.  If it is higher, then you are riskier to do business with. All of this is done so that the lender can expect a certain return with all risks balanced.

As far as horse racing goes, it would be unwise to select a horse in an upcoming race, regardless of the odds, without considering the risks, or what could happen to prevent the horse from entering the “Winner’s Circle.” Once the risks are analyzed it should be easier to grasp what the return should be.

How many times have we seen the lone speed horse miss the start, get squeezed or have early traffic trouble? If that lone speed horse can’t get the lead and no matter what the odds, all is lost. How many times have we seen the closer from hell become a victim of a slow pace or have traffic trouble and just can’t catch the speed?

It reminds me of a friend of mine, a very good player who loved to analyze pace. If he determined a horse was the lone speed in the race he would then look at those in the adjacent post positions. If those runners next to the lone speed have gate problems then the probability of the lone speed could be compromised. That’s very good risk analysis in our game.

In a recent piece I talked about finding the bargain horse, an effort that requires risk analysis in the overall race evaluation. A horse may be a bargain at 7-1, but if the amount of risk is excessive then 7-1 may not be enough.

Handicapping Tip of the Day # 53 – Try to love them before you bet them

By ART PARKER

It really makes no difference what handicapping method(s) you use to provide answers for who you wager on in horse racing. What’s important is how you use the answers you come up with. If you use a system and your system says bet number five (#5) then it is unwise to go and make the bet without examining the value of your wager.

I had a friend that utilized some sort of pace formula that, by his own admission, won about 30% of the time. I would shake my head at him when he whooped it up when his system horse would win at odds on. I could not get him to understand that you will lose money (even with a nice 30% strike rate) if winning wagers don’t return enough money.

John Templeton, the legendary mutual-fund manager who was a pioneer of international investing and later committed much of his fortune to scientific and religious causes, was known as the “Owl of Wall Street.” He earned a reputation for bargain-minded stock selection that consistently rewarded shareholders in his Templeton Funds family. Templeton’s number one rule was to look for and buy bargains. Learn from your mistakes was another one of his top rules.

If you have ever been to a brokerage firm you have probably seen the board flashing symbols and numbers across. As a stock is traded its most recent price is given. This is really no different than going to the track since the tote board gives you the information to determine what a horse is going for in terms of odds. If you put Templeton’s practice into horse playing the number one rule would be to bet on horses that are better than their odds; in other words look for a bargain.

Some of the best advice I ever received came years ago from one of the best horseplayers I ever knew. He had a great way to explain bargains at the track.  He once said, “If I think a horse should be 2-1 and he is on the board at 5-1, I really like him. If he goes up to 8-1 I really love him.”

Handicapping Tip of the Day #51 – Find One Percent More

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

By ART PARKER

If you play this game long enough and if you love it then you will try to figure things a million different ways attempting win. I’ve been playing the horses virtually my entire adult life. I just got my Medicare card in the mail so that will let you know about how long it has been.

Like many of you I have done one study after another, researched no telling how many angles and I have one of the very finest sets of trainer pattern files you have ever seen. Once a month my wife gives me an authoritative lecture on all the stuff in my office in the house. Of course what she really wants to know is when I will dispose of more of the horse racing stuff. I simply say I can‘t get rid of any more right now. When she asks why, I always responded with, “Because there may be another winner somewhere in that stuff.”

I was like everyone else in my early years in racing in that I thought about how to get rich every time I went to the track. I would see a huge Pick Six payout and think I just had to start playing for all of those big jackpots, and I have hit a few in my time. I’m just scared to tally up the losses incurred trying to hit a boxcar payout.

After many years I finally realized that those who hit the big ones and make money in the long run are few and far between. I realized one is better off taking a profit, ever how small, and then achieving the same result the next day.

The difficulty in the “grind it out” approach is that us humans can‘t equate making a weekly profit at the track to getting a weekly paycheck. When we go to work we don’t expect to get rich on Thursday, but we expect that in one afternoon at the track.

I majored in corporate finance in college. I learned all about stocks, bonds, warrants, options, mutual funds, balance sheets, P&L, and all that boring stuff. In that field there is one thing you never forget – the importance of a percentage point; if I had just one percent more return, if cash flow was just one percent better, etc.

Just recently I conducted another study using a few variables regarding speed and class with results below.

 

Win bets only.

Number of races = 526.

Number of winners with method tested = 176.

Winning rate = 33.46 %

Total payoffs = $ 1,080.5

Average payoff = $ 6.14

Total invested at $2 per win ticket = $1,052

Net profit = $ 28.50

Return on investment (ROI) = 2.71 %

 

Many would look at this and see very little money. Well, if you wagered $20.00 per race then your profit would be $ 285.00. Of course, it would still be the same ROI.

Now if the efficiency with this method were increased by only 1% then another five (5) races would be cashed. That would increase the total winnings by $30.70. Again, not much money. But what about ROI? The winnings increase to $59.20 and the ROI increases to 5.62%.

Just think. If you can increase your winning efficiency by just 1%, you would more than double your return on investment.

Does that sound like a good deal?

I believe it would sound good at any business school.

Handicapping Tip of the Day #49 – Why I Passed on $326,599 in Free Money

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

by Rich Nilsen

Tuesday night, September 10, 2019, featured a mandatory payout of the Jackpot Pick-5 wager at Prairie Meadows.  This jackpot wager had been building for months and, with closing day on tap, it was time to pay it all out.  This equated to $326,599 in free money in the pool.  Those funds, plus whatever was wagered (minus the 15% takeout), would be distributed to all the winners.

Despite the slow Tuesday of racing, and the fact that Prairie Meadows had recently been hosting quarter horse racing instead of Thoroughbreds, it seemed like everyone knew about it.  Major ADWs were sending out emails.  People were posting all over social media.  It seemed like if you were a horseplayer, especially one who liked horizontal wagers, you were playing it.

I was among them and was planning to participate.  My first concern was the notice that Des Moines, Iowa and the racetrack had been pounded with rain overnight.  How that might affect the track, even though it figured to be dry by post time, was anyone’s guess.

The second and more important issue was the entries.  The fields were large and with not knowing the track very well, that gave me pause.  If I could find one or two standouts, or a couple of races where I could easily narrow the field down to, let’s say, two major players, then this could be an affordable ticket.

However, that was not the case.  I was having trouble narrowing down the contenders in all five races.  Consequently, this sequence looked like it could pay gangbusters.  Of course, that’s the type of Pick-5 I want to be a part of.  I went back through it again, looking to narrow the races down to even 4-5 plays in most races.  I found it very difficult, regardless of the 2.57% edge as indicated by expert Marshall Gramm.*

Pick-5 Cost

A 4 x 4 x 4 x 5  x 5 partwheel is 1,600 combinations.  With the large fields there were 62,370 possible combinations.   At the $.50 base wager, this type of ticket would cost $800.  This was more than I wanted to spend when I wasn’t confident I would hit.  If I was wrong in just one race, I was toast.

The wise decision was to pass despite the six figures of “free” money.   The winning combination ended up returning $1,737.05.  This was a generous payoff considering the results, but it was hardly a life-changing score.

Recognizing when the situation isn’t right for you and passing on the so-called opportunity is very important.  Another big carryover is right around the corner.

Best of luck!

 

*If you want to learn more about the game, follow Marshall’s tweets.

Record Pick 4 payout hit at Canterbury. Interview with Winner

On Friday [July 12, 2019 at Canterbury Park], the first three races in the Pick 4 were won by horses paying 6-1, 7-1 and 8-1 on a $2 win bet.

Joe Tartaglia, watching the races from his home, was thrilled. His Pick 4 ticket had all of the six horses in the final race on his ticket. So he was going to win. It was just a question of how much. Along with his horse-playing pals around the country, with whom he was keeping in touch on Twitter, Tartaglia hoped for the best.

He got it when Lieutenant Powell, a 21-1 longshot, rallied to win the race. The payout: $31,522.90.

Here’s the interview…

Man Won Over $600,000 on KY Derby But is Offered $35K Due to Sportsbook’s Cap

This is Why You Play with a Real ADW or Track

Dr. Steve Friedlander walked into the Tamarack Junction sportsbook in Reno, Nev., and spent $2,760 on bets for the Kentucky Derby.

He put $600 on the No. 8 horse Tacitus to either win, place or show and he did a $100 exacta box and a $40 trifecta box using the 8, 13, 16 and 20 horses. If any of those four finished first and second, he would win the exacta. If any of those four finished first second and third, he would cash in the trifecta.

When Maximum Security, the No. 7, crossed the finish line first, it appeared as though Friedlander had lost all his bets. But then Maximum Security was soon turned into a loser when the horse was disqualified and taken down.

“I actually didn’t know that’s what happened,” Friedlander told The Action Network. “I bet on horses a couple times a year, so I thought maybe he fell to second place.”

In reality, every horse was moved up one slot.

The new order was: Country House (20), Code of Honor (13) and Tacitus (8).

Friedlander couldn’t believe it. He hit every bet.

Country House went off at 65-1, the biggest longshot to win the Derby since Donerail in 1913.

The board flashed.

He started to do the math…

Click here to learn about earning real cash back with every wager. Enter promo code AGOS for added rebates and signup bonus

Handicapping Tip of the Day #47 – 5 Ways to Conserve Wagering Funds

Handicapping Tip of the Day

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

by Rich Nilsen

One of the biggest challenges horse players face is the ability to manage their money and wager properly without losing focus.  Fail in any aspect of money management and the result is typically disastrous.  This year’s Cheltenham festival offers for new customers will keep you from failing to manage your funds correctly. Here are a few quick tips that will help you stay on track by conserving your wagering funds and not wasting bets on races you shouldn’t be playing.

  1. Stay Disciplined – Start with a defined bankroll for a set period of time and refuse to add to it.  ATMs and deposit options are out of the question.  Treat that money like an investment fund and work with it to turn a profit.  Have a game plan to start and stay disciplined in your wagering.
  2. Pick Your Spots – It’s alright to play every race if you have a small ‘Action Bankroll’ available.  You can use that to make bare minimum wagers if you lack discipline and absolutely have to have some action on a race.  However, the most important thing is to spot play and hammer those races accordingly.  Keep in mind that it’s simply impossible to have a good or strong opinion on every race. You have to pick your spots.
  3. Avoid Playing Out of Proportion – If your spot-play type of wager is $50 on a race, don’t play $200 on a race because you really love it for whatever reason.  Keep your best bet plays in proportion to one another, otherwise you risk damaging your bankroll and possibly even going on tilt.
  4. Choose Your Races Wisely – play to your strengths.  If conditioned claimers are not your thing, then avoid them at all costs.  If you excel at maiden turf races, then be sure to start with those races when you begin your handicapping for the day.  Choose your races wisely and your bankroll will be rewarded for it.
  5. Variance Happens – Understand that you’re not going to win every race, and worse yet, losing streaks are part of the game.  One of the best horseplayers in the country that I know has a stop limit.  If he loses a set amount of money, he stops for the day.  It’s a simple rule and he sticks to it, no matter what.  If it’s a good enough rule for a guy who successfully puts millions through the pari-mutuel windows every year, then it’s good enough for us.

Have You Missed These Handicapping Gems?

When 4/5 Odds is Value

The ‘For Sale’ Racehorse

Don’t Overlook Hard Races

 

Superfecta Strategies for the Kentucky Derby

The goal between now and Derby Day is to figure out how to maximize my coverage and opportunity based on the opinions I will have developed on the 20 Derby entrants.

by Justin Dew

Favorites have won the last five Kentucky Derby. In 2016, the top four betting choices ran 1-2-3-4 in order. As a bettor who likes to use the Derby as an opportunity at a life-changing score (or at least a year-making score), an edition dominated by low odds horses usually means a bad day for me. But that doesn’t have to be the case, and to my credit I feel I have learned from past mistakes.

Take 2004, for example. Smarty Jones and Lion Heart were the top two betting choices in the Kentucky Derby, and they ran 1-2 in order of favoritism. Imperialism finished 3rd at a modest 10-1. But the fourth-place finisher, Limehouse, helped to light up the tote board by contributing to a $41,000 (for $2) superfecta at odds of 41-1. The trifecta only paid $987. So let’s say you liked the two favorites to run 1-2, and then used every horse that was under 20-1 the 3rd spot, with all in 4th. As a $2 play, that’s $380 and a return of over $41,000…..with the two favorites running 1-2 in order!

Easy game, right?

Not so fast. Last year, I liked Always Dreaming as a top win candidate, but wouldn’t have had Battle of Midway or Lookin at Lee even WITH the ALL button (joke). In 2013, Orb was my top pick, and I used runner-up Golden Soul on all tickets, but didn’t match them up with the rest of the superfecta.

Thus, one of my goals for this year is to make sure I am in a position to cash a big ticket if I am right about the most likely winner and also right about a longshot who runs big. And I need to do it economically. But at the same time, how many horses can I confidently eliminate from superfecta consideration? Six? Seven? Can I trim down my selections near the top of the ticket and allow myself to use the ALL button? Do I need to just single my top pick in the 1st spot in lieu of a win bet on him, and then spread heavily underneath?

Maybe I’m looking at something like 1x13x12x11 at a cost of $1,716 (that’s one horse keyed on top over the other 13 in spots 2-4). If one of the seven horses that I eliminate from superfecta consideration runs 4th, then I guess I can just accept the fact that I didn’t deserve to cash. Or maybe the thing to do is play my top two in 1st and demand that one of my top five or six longshots runs somewhere in the 2nd and 3rd spots, with the other logical horses in there as well. So, something like this:

1st: Top two horses
2nd: Top six longshots
3rd: Top seven overall (including the top two)
4th: Top seven plus top six longshots

So that’s 2x6x6x10, for a cost of $720. And then I play it with longshots only in 2nd and 3rd at a cost of $600, followed by using the top seven in 2nd with just the longshots in 3rd for another $720.

So overall, I would spend more on the superfecta that way, but I’d have my top two on top instead of just a single horse. And in exchange for having that extra coverage on top, I must have at least one of my longshots run 2nd or 3rd, with a big payday coming my way if I’m right about the winner and the non-super-contenders, AND I get more than one one my longshots in the 2-4 spots.

With the 1x13x12x11 approach, I could easily envision a scenario where I hit the superfecta but lose money. See: 2016. But with the “demand a longshot” approach, my top pick could win, spots 2-3 could be filled by logical horses, one of my longshots could run 4th, and I lose. Again, that’s the price (in this example) of using two horses on top.

Or…maybe I try this…..

Use my top two in first, trim it down to three longshots, and leverage the ALL button.

1st: Top two horses
2nd: Top three longshots
3rd: Top seven overall
4th: ALL

That would run me $612, plus another $612 when I move the longshots into 3rd and the top seven into 2nd, plus another $510 when I play it this way….

1st: Top two horses
2nd: Top three longshots
3rd: Top six longshots
4th: ALL

The $510 play gives me a big score if my longshots run 2nd and 3rd, with some extra coverage in 3rd.

I am not after bragging rights. And having been very lucky in recent years to cash some very large tickets at the track, I am not excited by the prospect of winning a few thousand dollars on Derby Day. Apologies if anyone doesn’t like the way that sounds. But I don’t want to see another $75,000 superfecta pass me by.  I feel like I need to be willing to spend the money to hit it.

handicappers Dew Justin Rich Nilsen

Justin Dew (Left) and AGOS Founder Rich Nilsen (Right)

The goal between now and Derby Day is to figure out how to maximize my coverage and opportunity based on the opinions I will have developed on the 20 Derby entrants. And I am willing to use all or most of my bankroll to take a swing at that payday. Because if someone guaranteed me I could double my bankroll on the Kentucky Derby, I wouldn’t sign up.

Now, if my Derby bankroll is $2,000, and the horse I like is 12-1, maybe the thing to do is abandon the entire approach that I just spent the last hour writing about and simply bet to win.

I have a lot of thinking to do.

Exacta Strategies – Thinking Outside the Box

by Lenny Moon

     Reprinted with permission, this article discusses the best exacta strategies in horse racing.

The Exacta is many horseplayers first taste of exotic wagering.

In horse racing the Exacta requires the bettor to correctly select the first two finishers in a race.

There are many ways to play the Exacta but most horseplayers are taught to play the Exacta in the most inefficient way, thus foregoing the opportunity to maximize their returns.

I was guilty of falling into the trap because it was the way everyone played the Exacta, in fact it was the way the racing program suggested to play.

Lucky for you I am here to teach you how to maximize your returns when betting the Exacta but before we get to that let’s take a few minutes to discuss the wrong ways and why they should be avoided.

Exacta Box

The most common way to bet the Exacta is by boxing two or more horses.  This is the strategy referred to earlier.

Boxing your horses means they can come in any order so long as they finish first and second.

At first glance, and to a novice, this might look like a great strategy because it provides a little cushion in case you are not perfect in your handicapping.

exacta horse racing basicsWhat it also does is minimize returns because you are giving each combination an equal chance of winning.

While there may be a rare occasion when you think two horses have an equal chance of winning or running second that should be the exception not the rule.

Betting an Exacta Box is not only inefficient it can also be costly depending on the number of horses you use.

A two horse Exacta Box costs $2 (2 x 1 = 2) for each $1 bet, a three horse Exacta Box costs $6 (3 x 2 = 6) for each $1 bet, a four horse Exacta Box costs $12 (4 x 3 = 12) for each $1 bet and so on.

It may seem like a good way to bet but the cost and the likely return suggests otherwise.

For example suppose you bet a three horse Exacta Box for $1.  Your investment would be $6.

If two of your horses are favorites and run one-two you might make a few dollars or depending on how much was bet on the combination you could conceivably lose money.

The only benefit of boxing an Exacta is it will produce a higher win rate, meaning you will cash more tickets.  In return, however, you will be minimizing your profits.

The most efficient way to bet the Exacta is by weighting each combination.

Exacta Wheel

The second most common way to bet the Exacta is a wheel.

An Exacta Wheel involves picking one horse to win and “wheeling” it with the rest of the field.

If your horse wins you win the Exacta but again you are not maximizing your returns.

You are actually putting yourself in a position that adds more luck to the equation then necessary.

Basically you are hoping your horse wins the race and the longest shot runs second.

Unfortunately there is a much better chance one of the logical contenders will fill out the Exacta.  That result will produce a much lower payout than if the longest shot ran second.

Let’s say you find one horse you really like to win but you cannot figure out who will run second.  The best option would be to bet the horse to Win and forego the Exacta.

The more likely decision will be wheeling your horse in the Exacta and praying for a long shot to come in second.

If the race had ten horses the Exacta wheel would cost $9 (1 x 9 = 9) for each $1 bet.

In a ten horse field the Exacta will usually pay more than $9 for a $1 bet so if your horse wins you will most likely make a profit but at what cost?

Let’s say your horse is 3/1 and wins.  You bet a $1 Exacta Wheel which costs $9.

A logical horse runs second and the Exacta returns $20 for a $1 bet.

You excitedly make your way to the betting window to collect your $11 profit.

What you fail to realize is you left money on the table.

Had you bet that same $9 on your horse to Win you would have won $36 (9 x 3 + 9 = 36) for a profit of $27 (36 – 9 = 27).

The Win bet would have made you a profit of $27 while the Exacta only netted you $11.

There will be instances when a long shot finishes second and the Exacta returns more than the Win bet but more often than not one of the favorites will run second thus reducing the return.

Exacta Part Wheel

The Exacta Part Wheel is a step in the right direction.

This bet involves wheeling your horse over a few other horses.

This is a much better strategy than wheeling the entire field second because it costs less.

In the same example from the previous section let’s say you decide three horses can run second behind your top pick.  A $1 Exacta Part Wheel would cost $3 (1 x 3 = 3) for each $1 bet.

Now you have shifted the odds in your favor.

The $3 Win bet would only return $12 (3 x 3 + 3 = 12).

The Exacta would return $20 for each $1 bet resulting in a profit of $17 (20 – 3 = 17).

In this scenario the Exacta returned $5 more than the Win bet for each $1 bet.

A more effective way to play the Exacta Part Wheel is to bet more than a dollar on the combinations.

I used this strategy on Belmont day in the Easy Goer Stakes.

I thought the favorite, Teeth of the Dog, was the most likely winner.  He went to post at odds of 2/1, not very appealing for a Win bet.

I decided there were two horses that were most likely to finish second, Skyring (6/1) and Fast Falcon (27/1).

I gave both horses the same chance of running second so I bet a $5 Exacta Part Wheel with Teeth of the Dog over Skyring and Fast Falcon.

As expected Teeth of the Dog outclassed the field and won 3 3/4 lengths.

Skyring faded to last in the stretch but long shot Fast Falcon closed stoutly and just got up for second. The $5 Exacta returned $418.75.

The $10 Win bet on 2/1 Teeth of the Dog would have returned a measly $30.50.

In this situation the Exacta Part Wheel provided the maximum return.  It also showed that you can make money betting favorites, if you do it the right way.

Weighted Exacta

The most efficient way to bet the Exacta is by weighting each combination.

In the previous example had I thought Fast Falcon was more likely to run second I could have spent the same $10 by betting a $7 Exacta of Teeth of the Dog over Fast Falcon and a $3 Exacta of Teeth of the Dog over Skyring.

Weighting your Exacta combinations is the best way to maximize your returns long term.

Instead of being lazy and boxing your horses or wheeling them you should take a few minutes to think about what chance each horse has of winning and/or running second and then bet accordingly.

An alternate example of the Weighted Exacta would be if you like two horses that you think will run first and second.

Let’s say the first horse is twice as likely to win as the second.  For the same $10 you could bet a $7 Exacta with first horse over the second horse and a $3 combination reversing it.

If your horses run one-two you win and if you are correct that the first horse is more likely to win then you will be rewarded accordingly with a better return.

Final Thoughts

The Exacta is a great way to make money betting on horses.

Unfortunately most horseplayers are taught to bet the Exacta inefficiently by either Boxing it or Wheeling their horse.

Smart horseplayers, which includes you since you just read this, will instead bet Exacta Part Wheels or Weighted Exacta’s.

The former group may cash more tickets but the latter group will make larger profits.  To recap here are the important points to remember:

  • Boxing an Exacta is both lazy and inefficient
  • Betting an Exacta Wheel is injecting more luck into the equation
  • Betting an Exacta Part Wheel is a step in the right direction
  • Weighting an Exacta is the most efficient way to bet the Exacta and will produce the greatest returns long term
  • The Exacta is sometimes a better alternative than a Win bet, especially if you like the favorite
  • A Win Bet is sometimes the better choice, particularly in cases when you have no opinion on who will finish second

I hope this helps you make more money betting the Exacta, it has done so for me.

If you have others ways of betting the Exacta please share them in the comments below.

If you found this post to be helpful please share it using the social media buttons below, and if you haven’t already done so, join the AGameofSkill.com monthly newsletter by leaving your email address in the form below.

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How to Play Rolling Pick-3s Wagers

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by Glen S. for Agameofskill.com

Many of the bigger tracks have rolling pick 3s, in which horseplayers are asked to select the winners of three consecutive races. I think this opportunity is a huge advantage to the player if the pick 3s are played in a certain way (which we discuss below).

For starters, the research has been done on rolling pick 3s and the payouts are usually higher than a win parlay of the horses that win each sequence. Also, the pick 3 is a small enough sequence that you can play a strong ticket and not spend that much in order to hit it.

The bigger payouts are obviously when longshots come in, but you do not need to hit back to back 10-1 shots and to get “paid.” Get one price horse in there  and you will be rewarded.

Now it is important to understand you can’t go overboard and put all your budget in one basket when playing these pick 3s. I also think if it is costing you over $48 to play a pick 3 partwheel, you probably shouldn’t be playing it because you really do not have a good feel in the sequence.

Here are a  few key rules I apply when I am playing rolling pick 3s to keep the cost down.  I find it important to have at least one key in the sequence I like a lot. When I start the pick 3 sequence and roll them, I only start when I either have a key or two horses in the first leg. If my key is in the last leg, and the first two legs I need bunches to “save alive,” I will only play one pick 3 until my key is in the first leg. If the total cost of a ticket is between $8 – $12 and I have no key, then I will also play the ticket.

The best way to explain is by an example.  Consider the following hypothetical sequence:

Race#2  Feel only two horses can win.
Race#3  Like a horse at 5-1, can take a chance and key him, but could use others.
Race#4  Vulnerable favorite that should get beat, like as many as four horses, but there are unknowns to deal with.
Race#5 Solid key, expected favorite, ml 2-1, but will go off as low as 4-5.
Race#6 Mid claimer, three or four contenders to use.

Here is how I would play the races 2,3,4

Race#2 start:  1,2/1/all (8 horses), and   1,2,/1,2,3/1,2,3,4

Rae#3 start:  if 1,2 wins then I would play  1,2,3/all(8)/1  and 1,2,3,4,5/1,2,3,4/1.  If 1,2 loses in race 2, then I would play 1/all(8)/1

Race#4 start:  if alive from races 2 and 3 then would play 1,2,3,4/1/1,2,3,4; if knocked out, then I would play all/1/1,2,3

You will see that I adjust my tickets accordingly. I am either expanding a few longshots if I have a few good pick 3 tickets going, so if I lose a final leg, I am “covering” a little (having a longshot that is coming in that I will now have).

In all cases I need to hit one of my keys somewhere to win. Playing the above tickets keeps the ticket size down but allows you many options to hit a nice ticket or hit a few tickets in a row. Either way you are making some money.

Feel free to comment or question on why I play it this way, and even tell me that this is the wrong way to play. I am always open to discuss new ways to play or learn something new.