Over the past decade the Pick 4 and Pick 5 wagers have become two of the most popular bets among horseplayers. Both offer a shot of making a huge score if you can string together four or five winners in a row.
The two wagers offer added value as some racetracks have lowered takeout on the bets to 14% or 15%, lower than Exacta or Trifecta takeout. That offers a lot more bang for the buck than the Daily Double or Pick 3 which at most tracks the takeout (or “vig”) is around 22%-24%.
Both wagers are offered at most racetracks with a $0.50 increment, making the bets manageable for horseplayers with smaller bankrolls.
Pick 4 Betting
The Pick 4 requires bettors to correctly predict the winner of four consecutive races and most tracks offer two or three on the betting card. Hitting a Pick 4 is not easy but a combination of good handicapping and wagering strategy can produce solid profits.
Nearly all tracks offer a $0.50 increment on the Pick 4 with a few tracks sticking to a $1 minimum.
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Using one horse in each leg would cost only cost $1. Using two horses in each leg of the four race sequence would cost $16. Using three in each leg makes the play $81.
The best strategy would be to find one or two horses in the sequence you have a strong enough opinion on to single them. Or better yet, instead of just making one ticket make multiple tickets based on your opinion of each race, using your top contenders on all or most of the tickets and your other contenders on less tickets.
If you found two singles you could go much deeper in the other two legs. Using a single in each of the first two legs, four horses in the third leg and five horses in the final leg would work out to be a $20 ticket: 1x1x4x5 = $20.
Perhaps you have a strong opinion in one race where you singled, had two others races you could reduce the contenders to two and the final leg you did not have a strong opinion. You could play a ticket of 1x2x2x7 = $28.
Weigh your horses in each race of the sequence based on your opinion, with A,B,C or numerically and lay out your tickets accordingly. You are much better off playing five or six tickets that total $81 than just using three horses in each leg on one ticket that totals $81.
Pick 5 Betting
The Pick 5 has become one of the most popular bets in racing, easier to hit than a Pick 6 and with a $0.50 increment it is within reach of horseplayers with smaller bankrolls.
Most tracks offer two Pick 5’s a day, usually on the opening five and last five races of a card. The Pick 5 at many tracks offer a low takeout in the range of 14% to 15%.
Catching five winners in a row is tougher than it looks, and takes more of an investment than a Pick 3 or Pick 4, but if you can beat a couple of favorites you can cash a big ticket.
The strategy is similar to the Pick 4 above, but with the additional race, you need to find several horses in the sequence and lean on them while going deeper in the other races.
Playing three horses in each race at a $0.50 increment costs $121.50, so find some spots you can single or use just two horses to leave your bankroll room to go deeper in races where your opinion is not as strong.
Attempt to find three horses you feel you can single, and play multiple tickets that keep you alive as long as two of the three win. If all three win you could be alive to hitting the Pick 5 more than once.
As stated above, rank your horses in each leg of the sequence, and play multiple tickets using your top horses on more of the tickets.
To be a successful Pick 4 and Pick 5 player you need to be contrarian to your fellow horseplayers. Look for favorites to beat and don’t just single the “obvious” horse everyone else is singling.