Ten Cent Bets

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.

A $93 winner, with an even money shot out of the top four, where the last slot of the superfecta was filled with a 60-1 shot. You and I have maybe hit those type supers in the early 2000's. We walked home with the pool.

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.


ron said...

If there were no withholding in the U.S. I would love if they did away with the 10cent super and 50 cent tri's and pick 3's and 4's, but with our ridiculous tax withholding on the federal and state levels and in N.Y. on the local level, the fractional bets are a necessity.

tommy said...

oh so wrong!! Even at 28% over 4 races is a 7% takeout. i play woodbine thoros and soon learned the value since the 20c bets started is in the chalky tics. play $20 as my base bet

ITP said...


So let me get this straight....If the bet was a P-20 at 80% takeout it would only be 4% takeout because it's over 20 races?

tommy said...

takeout would be less than win parlay, and yes it would be 4% X 20

tommy said...

or less than 20 win bets

ITP said...


Thanks...Great to know...I'm going to suggest at the next TOC meeting that they raise takeout on the P-5 to 40% as it will only actually be a takeout rate of 8% which is still very very low.

Thanks again

Anonymous said...

Your logic seems rather off about the topic of fractional wagering.

I mean, it either IS, or it isn't...

It's like the misnomer called a "head-bob":

You either won by a nose, or you didn't. That's IT. Those plus dead heats represent the complete outcome. There is no such thing as a "head bob", no matter how many morons in your vicinity try to blame their losses on such a thing.

The ten-cent wagers pay exactly the same as do their $2 counterparts.

Your logic is akin to that of someone who lives in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan getting an American $10 bill, and needing to convert it only in his mind, using the exchange rate, to Canadian dollars before he can figure out how much money he really feels he HAS. That merely because he grew up in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario!

The dime superfectas and the like cause parimutuel payouts to move more near to what is predictable for the sequence of events they involve. That's what you WANT in racing! You don't want to land a big, giant trifecta only to find that the $10,000 bettor three tables away from you hit the thing 350 times.

The dime supers can create something out of racing that is on the verge of being 'nothing'. Take for example the track at Great Falls, Montana, which, a few years ago, implemented 10-cent supers on every race.

All at once they took terrible racing with 7-horse fields which included two plow horses each, and caused their product to become deeper and more meaningful beCAUSE suddenly it now mattered which of the plow horses might, on some errant day, get up and top a couple of faltering speed horses (AND the other plow horse).

Now sure, if you're seated in The Director's Room at Del Mar, with all of the other bigshots, then the dime supers need not mean very much to anybody in your vicinity, but to the rank and file, and particularly those fairly new to racing, Dime supers help them to be competitive at an affordable cost.

(and yeah, I know what you mean about the rare situation where you snagged the only ticket on some far-flung and improbable outcome, but there are far more occurrences where you played a certain multi-horse bet and got far less than you 'deserved', because the pool size and/or the number of winners in them were misrepresented by mere probability. Those are so numerous, and so non-memorable, that you didn't retain them as evidence.

tommy said...

15 % that is 3% a race is better thanks, you talk the game, i win at it.


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