How to Bet Pick 3s And Pick 4s

How to Bet Pick 3s And Pick 4s

What is a Pick 3 and Pick 4 in Horse Racing?

Considered the most common and popular of the multi-race exotic bets, the Pick 3 and Pick 4 require the bettor to select the winner or either three or four consecutive races. The bets often feature generous payouts, particularly if the bettor can include at least one longshot - or lightly favored horse - on his ticket in at least one race of the betting sequence. The Pick 3 is generally offered on a "rolling" basis with any three consecutive races, while the Pick 4 is commonly featured just twice a day at each track, and sometimes just during the last four races of the card. Both bets can be placed by selecting just a single horse in each race, but given the degree of difficulty involved, nearly all bettors playing a Pick 3 or Pick 4 choose to use multiple horses in each leg of the sequence.  

Betting the Pick 3

In the pick 3, bettors are well-advised to keep the total cost of the ticket under $24 on a $1 base bet. Calculating the cost of the bet is as simple as multiplying the number of horses a player wants to use in each of the three legs. If a bettor likes the 6 and 8-horse and race 5, the 4,7, and 9-horse in race 6 and the 12 in race 7, that's 2 horses x 3 horses x 1 horse x the minimum $1 investement for a total of just $6. Using more horses in permitted, but an excessive amount of spreading is rarely a good idea in the Pick 3. More advanced players may choose to play multiple Pick 3 wagers emphasizing their top picks. Let's say a handicapper has the following opinions in each race of a Pick 3 sequence: 

Race 2- 3,4,5,6

Race 3 - 7,9

Race 4 - 8,11,12

The bolded numbers represent picks the bettor prefers, while the number in regular font represent second-tier selections. The player could play a single ticket using all picks for a $24 investment for a $1 base bet minimum. The same player could then emphasize all bold pick selelction on a separate ticket for just a $4 investment. If those picks turn out to be correct, the player would maximize his return. 

Betting the Pick 4

The Pick 4 is even more of a multi-faceted bet that sometimes features payouts in excess of $1000 on just a 50-cent minimum play. While there are many different ways to play a pick 4, the most common and basic approach for small to medium-sized bankrolled players is to simply select a reasonable number of combinations, trying to "hit" the bet, rather than emphasize certain combinations. While always useful to find a "single" somewhere within the four-race sequence, the 50-cent minimum base play allows bettors to "spread"with multiple combinations fairly liberally for reasonable amounts of cash. Consider the following Pick 4 (five horses x three horses x 2 horses x 2 horses only costs $30 when multipled by a 50-cent minimum base bet):

Race 8- 3,4,7.9,10

Race 9- 2,6,8

Race 10-1,7

Race 11- 3,4


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