Tracks continue to walk a fine line with ten cent bets.
Years ago with payouts of a dollar, you could do your homework and land on a longshot, use that horse on top, with a few other longer ones, and make some hay. For example, if a 2-5 ran out, which happens more often than you think, and a 25-1, 12-1, 8-1, 40-1 superfecta came in, you were probably going to win the whole pool. The risk was worth more than a Harville formula, or a fancy expected odds/payoff formula.
With ten and twenty cent bets in the pools, these payoffs are reduced.
Last night at Woodbine, where there are twenty cent pick 4's (along with supers, pick threes, and triactors I believe), the following sequence of events occurred in the latter races.
In leg one of the pick 4 the horse paid even, in the second leg, boom: a 20-1 bomb. In leg three we were back in the even money range, but in the last you got the holy grail: a $100 horse. If you handicap with that field size, with two longshots, one of them so huge it happens in less than one out of every 200 races, you'd think you'd get paid. The pick 4 paid $505 for twenty cents, or $2500 for $1.
If you ran home and told your betting buddies that you hit a $40 and $100 horse in a pick 4, they'd think you're rich.
"How much did you score" they'd ask.
You'd say "I made $280"
"What?! Lightning struck not once but twice in four races and you made $280?" they'd ask
"I bet a 20 cent pick 4 and spent $220. It paid $500 so I made $280"
That doesn't sound like a very compelling score. And compelling scores are what racing has over two or three team NFL parlays.
In the last race this showed up in the supefecta and tri pools.
The Harville formula can be thrown right out the window with incremental betting.
On the flip side (here is why it is a tough question for tracks), fractional wagering drives handle, and it gives smaller players a chance to make a score. They are good for handle, and small customers like them because they can cash more tickets. They're not bad things.
I don't much look at Woodbine to play, mainly because of this dilution. I don't want to go through the hard work of finding horses that can pay, only to have the pay depressed. Not to mention, I believe twenty cent bets paying out with 25-28% takeouts is an elixir that is impossible to gain an edge at. It's a loser for me, no matter how good my handicapping is.
I suspect the best formula for fractional wagering is: Offer it, yes, but ensure the takeout is very low. If you are asking players to win 2,000-1 on something that is 10,000-1 at parlay or Harville, you are not forming a sound long-term growth strategy.
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