Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Two Bits, Marketed the Right Way

As many people are learning, the Fortune 6 at Beulah Park is gaining some steam. The carryover is well over $200,000 for the bet, which asks a player to pick 6 winners with a base bet of 25 cents. The kicker is, to take down the whole enchilada you have to be the only ticket. If no one hits it, carryover. If ten people hit it, carryover. You truly have to be the "one". Cangamble and Fugue for Tinhorns have spoken about it previously here and here respectively.

Pick 6 bets are perhaps the biggest horseplayer tax there is. Back in the day when racetracks shunned exotics, some races only had WPS betting. If a crowd of 4,500 are on-track and an 8-5 comes in, a good deal of people are cashing, and ready to play the next race with a set of bullets, even though they might be of the 22 caliber variety. Today, spending $372 on a $2 base bet pick 6 is like taking a wad of cash and lighting it on fire. Churn? Not quite.

Pick 6's are not only hard to hit and churn killers, they often pay much less than fair value, making them poor mathematical bets as well. In an article originally published in Trot Magazine and reprinted with permission on the HANA blog, a professional player looked at this phenomenon. For a $1 pick 7 in a 10k pool, 7 horses of 2.75-1 or more creates a parlay that would pay more than the $10000 that you would receive. How about a $250k pool? It only goes to 4.9-1. When jackpot pools of this magnitude can not even beat a 5-1 parlay, most of this money is dead money.

So, pick 6's with a high minimum bet are hard to hit, don't add to churn, and newbies are fed on by sharks like they are Bart Simpson competing at NFL mini-camp. What good are they? Well, they do bring people out to your track, whether virtually or in person, especially when there is a carryover. At Santa Anita for example, players have disliked the short fields for years, however there they are, betting the large pools, looking for a score. Racing is one game where you can get a good score, if you are good, prepared and bet smart. Sure you can make a half million on a lotto bet, but that does not take skill.

Beulah Park, following the Puerto Rico example, has moved into this realm with this interesting bet. 25 cent mins, instead of $2 ones allows the small players a chance to fish in a big pond, while it still allows the larger bankrolled player to contrarian-handicap, searching for the big score. This is not a bet for everyone, nor should it be, but marketed correctly, and adding a couple of twists I believe it may be the type of bet that brings the slot players over to racing, which the business has wanted for some time.

For anyone who has been to Woodbine at the slots area we know what we see - plenty of people looking for a score while putting a dollar or so into a machine. They are attracted to playing numbers and making a big hit. If a Fortune 6 is going on whilst they are playing, it is promoted as such, I think they could be enticed to play.

When we do have the jackpot up to a large number, to make it happen, in my opinion, you would have to do a few things:

i) Allow fractional betting. Allow a customer who plays slots to make a bet with ease. Don't ask him or her to fill out a ticket, ask him or her a simple question: "How much do you want to bet?" Then fractionally calculate a quick pick ticket for him or her. If she wants to spend $24, give her a ticket containing 96 combos. If she wants to spend $6, give her one with 24.

ii) Have bet takers moving on the floor. I know, the racetrack/gambling lingo of "we can't do that" comes into play here. We put a man on the moon 41 years ago, we can find a way to sell horse racing tickets, at a racetrack, on the slots floor.

iii) Announce each leg, countdown the time to each leg and promote each leg like it is a huge event. If the quick picks are front loaded, which can be an option, more and more people would be alive.

iv) Count the number of tickets after each leg that are alive, and let everyone know. Are there four left going into race 5? Is there only one left into race 8? Someone might win a million dollars tonight, we should act like it and not keep it a secret.

v) If $4M or so pools do happen (and I believe that they will; the math is there), then it allows for phase two: Corner store fractional bets sold via the lottery system. Dave Bryans has spoken about this before and he thinks it can be done.

Wagers like pick 6's are here to stay and there is nothing wrong with that. But if the industry is going to promote churnless bets, feed those bets to a new market - the lottery & slots player. The six race outcomes are like six cherries on a slot machine, only with horses racing around in a circle, just the way we like them.


ITP said...

I hate the Beulah P-6. I seem to be in the minority.

It's tough to promote a bet to a new market of people when logic dictates that if they bet on it the rest of their lives, their probable lifetime return would be $0.00

At what point do they give up?

Anonymous said...

"It's tough to promote a bet to a new market of people when logic dictates that if they bet on it the rest of their lives, their probable lifetime return would be $0.00"

Hundreds of billions of bux are spent on lotteries every year, most with no hope of a return.

Cangamble said...

The big problem with promoting it in the casino side is that the OLG would hardly be interested in turning slots players to horseplayers.
Lets not forget that in Ontario, the track and the horsemen get the gambling losses on ponies, the government gets very little.
But when it comes to monies lost at slots, the track and horsemen only split 20% of it, with over 75% of it going to the government.

ITP said...

Most lotteries have some form of smaller payouts on many levels.

If a lottery bettor puts in $20 100 times a year for 20 years, he will get back $5, $20, $50 or even higher payouts numerous times.

If a bet, as above, is played randomly for $20 100 times a year 20 years....the bettor is a huge favorite to get back $0.00 in the 20 years of betting the wager.

Let's just say that the avg field size for the bet is 11 horses per race....that is 1,771,561 combos per event....if the bettor bets $40,000 over the 20 years, he has coverage of 160,000 combinations lifetime. As you can see, the bettor will almost always get back nothing over the course of 20 years and 2000 times betting the wager.

Like I asked...at what point do they stop betting and telling everybody else how bad it is?

Cangamble said...

ITP, the point is that if you get the lottery players to play it, you are banking on them playing other bets, and chances are they will cash the odd win bet, exactor and triactor.
I think the point of this bet is to try to get more horseplayers, and this will happen if more people talk about horse racing.

Anonymous said...

quote: "Like I asked...at what point do they stop betting and telling everybody else how bad it is?"

.... you are thinking like a horsebettor. think like a slots player.

these are the people who stand in line for powerball when it is $40 mill, and dont stand in line when it is $20 mill. they are not rational.

for every person that realizes it is a bad bet, there are ten others who got three or four of six and try it again..... they are thinking 'I can win.'

and if the pool is 5 mill, someone who took a quick pick will probably win it. then other slots players who don't know math see that and come play. all you need is one winner.

the poster is correct - you do not need millions to play this, you only need some slots players to play it. some will if it is positioned right.

Pull the Pocket said...


For the those are the people who stand in line for a 40 million dollar pool, but not a twenty million dollar one, I laughed. It never ceases to amaze me. Like, seriously, you can't live on twenty, but hell 40 is kick ass!

I was recently at the cottage and stopped by a quickie mart in town. There were six people lined up for a jackpot lotto bet. It might have been ten million. I brought my iced tea to the counter and she asked "how many tickets?". I said oh none for me and she looked at me funny. She said "it's big tonight, really no tickets?"

It's a wild world out there.


Anonymous said...

There are few chances to turn slot players into bettors. This seems like one of the better ideas.

Anonymous said...

If Woodbine ever tried this (highliy unlikely I know) and it worked.... with them skimming 25 points, I hope they stop skimming 27 points off the bets the real horseplayers actually want to make

Who knows, maybe they will get educated that people who want to play this bet, versus people who bet racing are entirely different people, and the ones who do play the horses want a fair takeout rate, instead of the downright insulting rate they charge what few customers they have left.

Cangamble said...

If Woodbine did try this, I would hope it would be after a takeout reduction, because you want to hook these players on horse racing, and the more they get back on other bets, the more likely they are to get hooked because they will play longer.....works great with slots and its 8% takeout.

Anonymous said...

I'm torn, personally I am much less interested in this kind of structure (F-6) than a normal pick 6. It's almost a guaranteed 60% takeout bet. But, theres no arguing that no one would be talking about Beulahs Pick 6 otherwise, and it would normally be unplayable anyway even under a nomral structure, so it is hard to argue with success. I just dont want Cal, NY, or KY thinking they need to mix things up.

Net net it probably draws in the folks and thats not a bad thing, but its not something I can bet.


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