Horse racing has two main types of bets. There are the traditional straight bets like win, place and show; then there are exotic wagers, which can be further split between vertical and horizontal wagers. Exactas, trifectas, superfectas and super high fives, which require you to pick the exact order of finish of a certain number of horses in a given race, are vertical options. Horizontal wagers require you to pick the winner of consecutive races; “daily doubles” involve two races, “pick threes” involve three races, and so forth.
Thus far I have gone through traditional and vertical bets. Today, I start to look at horizontal wagers with a close evaluation of the daily double.
You must select the winner of two consecutive races. In essence, it’s a two race parlay. The bet is almost always available on the first two races of a program; it’s also frequently an option for the last two races. Less frequently, “rolling doubles” are available for any consecutive two-race (i.e. the third race and fourth race or fourth race and fifth race, but not the third race and fifth race).
Daily doubles are usually a $2 bet per combination, though some tracks allow $1 doubles.
The double frequently offers the best value among all exotic wagers. There are several tracks that take just 12-percent off the top of daily double pools, with just one or two tracks at 25-percent or higher. You can regularly find doubles available with a reasonable 18, 19, or 20-percent rate.
Because doubles are the simplest exotic wager to understand, just about every type of bettor plays it – sophisticated and unsophisticated alike. However, many sophisticated players don’t see huge payoffs in the double and allocate more time, effort, and cash to higher risk/higher reward options.
Because of the low takeout, the double is among the best choices from a wagering menu. If you have a strong opinion on who will win a given race, playing several horses in the other part of the double can open up the chances for a big score. If you can eliminate the favorite, or preferably the top-two betting choices in a race, selecting two or three horses and playing them all into two or three horses in the next race will yield a decent profit if you hit. Anytime you think a value horse has a good chance to win, playing him into several horses in the second leg of the double is a worthwhile venture.
Doubles are not effective if you are dealing with an enormous favorite. A horse that is 1/5 is going to take the possible payouts down so far that you are better off just betting the next race using a straight win bet. A double with consecutive favorites is often overbet my novice players, and therefore the payout is driven down to the point it is not worthwhile.
When betting on daily doubles and using multiple combinations, it is important that you feel like a horse with decent odds (4/1 or better) is going to win one of the two races. Say you play nine combinations. Your horses’ odds in Leg 1 are 2/1, 5/2, and 3/1. In Leg 2, they are 1/1, 5/2, and 7/2. Even if your two highest price horses win (3/1 and 7/2), the relatively small payout will be eaten into by eight losing tickets to the extent that it is a bad bet.
You have to be careful not to play too many combinations in the daily double since the payouts will not be the same as a trifecta or pick four will yield.
Photo credit: Jeff Kubina (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
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