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Nov 02, 2012




The following is a lead on playing the pick four, the BEST BET at the racetrack. With many of these major tracks putting up a guaranteed pool give you even more incentive to make this bet.

When playing the pick four, as with any other bet, you want to make sure that the pool you are playing into is a live pool. For example the pick four pools in New York (NYRA), Southern California (Santa Anita, Hollywood, Del Mar), Florida (Gulfstream Park) and Kentucky (Keeneland, Churchill Downs) are all large pools. Right away you know you don’t have to hit the pick four for more than a dollar or two to make some serious money. Unlike a pick six play which encompasses six races and at most racetracks is a two dollar base wager, the pick four only encompasses four races and is a one dollar base wager at these tracks. Some tracks now offer it for a 50 cent increment.

For example if you’ve made a pick four play as follows:


1)       1,2,3,4

2)       1,2,3,4

3)       1,2,3,4

4)       1,2,3,4

for one dollar this bet would cost 4X4X4X4=$256 If you made the same play in a pick six it would cost $512 and you would have two races where you would have to single (use only one horse).

This is just an example of how much coverage you can get when playing the pick four as opposed to a pick six. On a daily basis in New York the pick four pool has as much as four to five times more in the pool than the pick six (when there is not a carryover). This goes for most of the other tracks that have large pools in their pick four wager. Southern California now guarantees the pools in the late pick four and those guarantees go up on the weekends so it pays to play the pick fours at Southern California tracks.

Now I am not suggesting that you play a $256 ticket every day into the pick four but you have the option of some major coverage for a relatively small ticket while having the opportunity to have a major score. When playing the pick four if you have a race where you think the favorite is unbeatable then key him/her and spread in the other races as long as the opportunity presents itself. If the play looks too chalky and would require you to play a ticket multiple times you may want to pass. For example if there are three horses within the pick four that are odds-on and look too tough to play against, keying all of those horse and then hoping for a bomb in the next race is not the way to play it. Passing would be the best thing to do in that situation. But if you have the same scenario and only it’s the favorite that looks like they are vulnerable go to the window and make that dollar spread ticket because that is how you can make the big money. 

Remember each day presents a different challenge. You may not want to spend that much money each day but you don’t have to make the same ticket each day. Some days the favorites are going to be tough to beat and you may want to pass or the other way around. You can spend $30 into the bet and have good coverage.


For example:


1)       1

2)       1

3)       1,2,3

4)       1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10

If you make this play for a dollar and the first two legs for example pay even money and then you get two $20 horses in the last two legs, you could easily see a $2000 payoff especially if these races have large fields. The pick four has definitely opened things up for the player who doesn’t want to spend that much but still wants a shot at the big scores. You don’t have the big syndicates like you do when there are the big carryovers in the pick six. You can make the $30 play for a dollar and have a shot at good money. The best advice other than picking the winners would be to look at the track you are planning to play the pick four at each day. Remember that you don’t need to hit the play multiple times to make a score. Try to stay away from pick fours with short fields and those that look to be top heavy with odds-on horses unless they are vulnerable. You can also mix and match plays where you can key one race on the first ticket and spread in the other three races and then key a horse in another race and spread in the other three.


For example


1)       1

2)       1,2,3,4

3)       1,2,3,4

4)       1,2,3,4

This ticket would cost 1x4x4x4=$64 for $1 bet.


Then you could play another ticket like this

1)1, 2, 3, 4

2)1, 2, 3, 4

3)1, 2, 3, 4


This ticket would come to the same $64 bet for $1 but you are keying a horse in a different race. This way if one of your keys wins then you have a 4 by 4 by 4 play. If both keys win then you could hit the ticket for two dollars assuming that the keys would be lower in odds than the horses you are using in the spread, this would help because the ticket would pay slightly less. Good Luck!

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