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Pick Your Profit Pool
Winning at the Dog Track
by Bill McBride

At the greyhound track bettors usually have as many as 12–14 wagering pools to select from. Along with the usual win, place, and show pools will be the “semi-exotic” wagers, such as daily doubles, perfecta/exactas, and quinielas. And, at most tracks more elaborate wagers will also be available, such as the trifecta, superfecta, pick 3, pick 6, double quiniela, tri/super, etc. (One wonders which track will first offer the octafecta, in which the finish order of all eight dogs must be selected!)

Why are so many different types of wagers offered? Clearly, it’s because the track wants to offer the fans as many ways to wager as possible, to create the largest possible handle. The track, deducting a percentage of from 18–25% from each dollar wagered, is more than happy to provide a wager to fit every fan’s wish! Furthermore, track owners delight when the more exotic pools provide really impressive multi-thousand dollar pay-offs, creating great publicity for the track! (If you think those really big pay-offs hurt the track, or are truly “generous,” you don’t understand pari-mutuel wagering!)

In previous articles we’ve talked about statistical handicapping techniques, how to apply this to the situational aspect of race prediction, and how to fit your wagering approach to your handicapping skill level. To regularly walk away from the dog track with a profit you need to develop the ability to select the correct pool(s) to wager into. There are few pat answers. First, forget the show pool, there’s no profit to be made there at any track. Likewise, the place pool is an unwise wager, except perhaps when wagering on simulcast in Nevada, where greyhound wagering is not co-mingled, and your wagers do not “dilute” the pay-off odds. A few experts claim that a potential profit can be made in the win pool, but this is only true if the bettor selects only certain types of races on which to wager—perhaps a ratio of 2 or 3 races out of a 15 race card. Across the board, mutuel favorites and “expert’s” selections only win about 25–29% of the time. That’s the nature of dog racing. A good handicapper might find a certain grade, at a certain track, in which he or she might pick the winner as much as 33–38% of the time, but even then it’s difficult to build a profit betting only to win.

Your approach must be tailored to two factors: the level of your handicapping success, (based on your historical results), and your observation of how your fellow fans are wagering into which pools. (You’re betting against them, of course, not against the track or the dog owners!) Be advised that larger pools do not automatically result in larger individual pay-offs. What you are looking for are those pools in which a larger percentage of inept handicappers and casual fans have wagered, thusly diluting the “intelligence” level of your rivals. At the same time, your choice of potentially profitable pools must be based on your own historical handicapping expertise, grade-by-grade, course-by-course, and track-by-track.

Pools such as the superfecta, twin-tri, tri-super, etc. require a good deal of capital to engineer a winning approach. Be aware that the vast majority of professional handicappers tend to garner their best returns from the perfecta/exacta and trifecta pools.

This story was first published in the Winter 2002-2003 issue of Gambling Times Magazine.

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