Superfecta Betting - Strategies
by Kenneth Strong of Predictem.com
Superfecta betting offers bettors the chance at a life-changing score for a moderate outlay of cash. Five-figure superfecta payoffs occur on a weekly basis, with 6-figure payouts not that uncommon, especially on horseracing's biggest days - Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup.
The superfecta in the 2007 Kentucky Derby, won by 9/2 shot Street Sense, paid $29,046.40 for a $2 ticket. In 2005, the Kentucky Derby was won by 50-1 shot Giacomo, triggering a monstrous $1 superfecta payoff of $864,253.50. There were six winning tickets. At the 2006 Breeder's Cup there were three 5-figure $2 superfecta payoffs and one 6-figure payoff of $113,911.80, in the Breeder's Cup Sprint. That should be enough to convince you that superfectas are worth going after - intelligently that is.
Superfecta betting requires that you select the first four finishers in a race in exact order. Originally offered as a $1 minimum wager, which prevented many smaller bettors from being able to effectively cover numerous superfecta combinations, many tracks now offer $0.10 and $0.20 superfecta bets. This has allowed even casual bettors a shot at cashing a big ticket.
The key to superfecta wagering is to cover as many of the probable outcomes as possible without spending a fortune. This is not easy when you consider that in an 8-horse field there are 1,680 (8 * 7 * 6 * 5) possible winning superfecta combinations. A $1 box of all possible winning superfecta combinations in an 8-horse field would cost you $1,680. A $0.20 or $0.10 superfecta box would cost you one fifth or one tenth of the $1 box cost respectively.
While superfecta boxes do have their place in specific scenarios, they are generally the most inefficient method of betting the superfecta, simply because they allocate the same amount of money to every possible combination. This is out of line with the actual winning probabilities of each combination, and thus results in inefficiencies in the superfecta betting pools that smart bettors can take advantage of. Additional superfecta wagering strategies include straight superfecta bets, superfecta wheels and superfecta part key wheels.
Straight Superfecta Betting
The simplest of all superfecta wagering strategies, a straight superfecta bet covers the least amount of combinations for the least amount of money. A straight superfecta bet 2-3-5-6, usually offered in a minimum denomination of $2, would cost you $2, and would win only if the final order of finish was 2-3-5-6. Of course, this would give you only one of the possible 1,680 combinations in an 8-horse field. Not much coverage, not much outlay of cash, and not much chance of winning.
Boxing all horses in the superfecta is not only cost-prohibitive; it is also dumb in 95 percent of cases - rating each possible combination as having an equal probability of winning. Of course, if you were absolutely certain that the two favorites would finish out of the money in an 8-horse field, you could box the remaining six horses and make a profit. A $1 6-horse superfecta box covering 360 combinations would cost you $360 (6 * 5 * 4 * 3). If both favorites finished out of the money, and assuming the superfecta betting pools were of reasonable size, the superfecta would likely pay more than $360 for a $1. You could also play the smaller $0.10 or $0.20 superfecta boxes offered by some tracks, for one tenth or one fifth of the cost of a $1 ticket, but you would also only collect one tenth or one fifth of the total $1 payoff respectively.
Realistically, the only time to play a large superfecta box is when you believe one and preferably two of the favorites will finish out of the money. Despite the obvious inefficiencies of superfecta box betting, it remains the most popular form of superfecta wagering among casual players and even decent handicappers, primarily because it requires very little mental effort. If you do find a race where the favorites look like they can finish out of the money - which would make the superfecta box strategy profitable - the costs of such boxes follow below.
$1 Superfecta Box Costs
(Divide by 5 for $0.20 superfecta box cost and by 10 for $0.10 superfecta box cost)
· $1 superfecta box of 4 horses = 24 possible combinations = $24
· $1 superfecta box of 5 horses = 120 possible combinations = $120
· $1 superfecta box of 6 horses = 360 possible combinations = $360
· $1 superfecta box of 7 horses = 840 possible combinations = $840
· $1 superfecta box of 8 horses = 1,680 possible combinations = $1,680
· $1 superfecta box of 9 horses = 3,024 possible combinations = $3,024
· $1 superfecta box of 10 horses = 5,040 possible combinations = $5,040
· $1 superfecta box of 11 horses = 7,920 possible combinations = $7,920
· $1 superfecta box of 12 horses = 11,880 possible combinations = $11,880
A superfecta wheel keying one horse with a number of others to finish in the remaining three positions allows you to lower your costs based on good handicapping. While not the most efficient method of betting the superfecta, a superfecta wheel is a much better option than a superfecta box, as it allows you to reduce your costs based on probabilities. For example, if you like one horse to finish first or second, and can narrow the remainder of the field down to five contenders, you could play your key horse to finish first and second over your remaining five contenders in second, third and fourth and first, third and fourth.
A $1 superfecta wheel keying the 1 horse to finish first with 2,6,7,8,9 in any of the second, third and fourth positions would provide you with 60 possible combinations at a cost of $60. You could also key the 1 horse in a $1 superfecta wheel in the second position with any of 2,6,7,8,9 to finish first, third and fourth at a similar cost of $60. The total cost of a superfecta wheel keying your main horse in first and second with five other horses to finish in the remaining three positions would be $120. Compare this to boxing six horses in a $1 box at a cost of $360. Obviously the more cost efficient superfecta bet is to key a horse. Below are the costs involved when keying one horse with a set number of others in $1 superfecta wheels. Again, divide by five or 10 if you are playing $0.20 or $0.10 superfecta tickets respectively.
Superfecta Wheel Costs
· $1 superfecta wheel 1 horse with 3 horses in the remaining three positions = $6
· $1 superfecta wheel 1 horse with 4 horses in the remaining three positions = $24
· $1 superfecta wheel 1 horse with 5 horses in the remaining three positions = $60
· $1 superfecta wheel 1 horse with 6 horses in the remaining three positions = $120
· $1 superfecta wheel 1 horse with 7 horses in the remaining three positions = $201
· $1 superfecta wheel 1 horse with 8 horses in the remaining three positions = $336
· $1 superfecta wheel 1 horse with 9 horses in the remaining three positions = $504
· $1 superfecta wheel 1 horse with 10 horses in the remaining three positions = $720
· $1 superfecta wheel 1 horse with 11 horses in the remaining three positions = $990
Getting Creative - Superfecta Part Key Wheels
The most efficient method of playing the superfecta is to find more than one key horse and use other multiple contenders to fill out the remaining positions in the superfecta. In the early days of superfecta wagering, before $0.20 and $0.10 superfecta bet minimums were in place, this strategy allowed many sharp $1 superfecta bettors to take their shot at pool scooping (taking the whole superfecta betting pool) at a reasonable cost, while also giving them numerous combinations that many other bettors simply would not have. This was an especially productive strategy at smaller tracks where the superfecta pools were decent yet not large enough to cover every possible combination.
For example, in a small superfecta betting pool, let’s say you liked horses 2 (3-1), 4 (5-1) and 10 (12-1) in a 10 horse field. You might play a $1 superfecta part wheel 2,4,10 with 2,4,10 with 2,4,10 with all, which would include 42 combinations at a cost of $42.
In the days of pool scooping, you would also play your above three horses with ALL in all remaining spots, to in an effort to cover as many combinations as possible. For example, to key your three main horses with ALL others in all possible spots, the superfecta tickets would be as follows:
· 2,4,10 with 2,4,10 with 2,4,10 with ALL = 42 $1 combinations at a cost of $42
· 2,4,10 with 2,4,10 with ALL with 2,4,10 = 42 $1 combinations at a cost of $42
· 2,4,10 with ALL with 2,4,10, with 2,4,10 = 42 $1 combinations at a cost of $42
· ALL with 2,4,10 with 2,4,10 with 2,4,10 = 42 $1 combinations at a cost of $42
Total cost for 168 of the most probable $1 superfecta combinations = $168
In the above scenario, your three main key horses would all have to finish somewhere in the first four positions, but you would be surprised how many times this simple strategy produces one of the few winning superfecta tickets – and thus a large profit. In fact, in the above scenario, you might also take the whole superfecta pool without having all the correct horses on your ticket.
For example, let’s say the 8 horse at 47-1 wins the race with horse 2 finishing second, horse 4 finishing third and horse 5 finishing fourth. So the order of finish is 8-2-4-5. You’re holding a ticket that reads ALL-2-4-10. So you have the first three finishers but not the fourth. In some cases, because of the small pools and the inability of other bettors to cover all possible superfecta combinations, nobody has a winning ticket on the combination 8-2-4-5. In this case, the whole superfecta pool would be paid out to anyone holding the ticket 8-2-4-ALL – which you have with your ticket that reads ALL with 2,4,10 with 2,4,10 with 2,4,10.
While the above scenario is not as common as it once was since the advent of the $0.20 and $0.10 superfecta minimums, it still occurs on a regular enough basis to make the strategy profitable, assuming you can select the right three horses to finish somewhere in the first four positions.
Another favorite superfecta wagering strategy is to key a pair of horses to finish in certain positions with a number of others. For example:
· 2,4 with 2,4 with 5,6,7,8,9 with 5,6,7,8,9 = 40 $1 combinations = $40
· 2,4 with 5,6,7,8,9 with 2,4 with 5,6,7,8,9 = 40 $1 combinations = $40
Total cost for 80 of the most probable $1 superfecta combinations = $80
In the above scenario you have played the two horses identified by your handicapping as the most probable winners to finish first and second and first and third in the superfecta with your other contenders in the remaining positions at a cost of only $80 (and less if you are able to play $0.20 and $0.10 superfectas).
Contrast this to the lazy bettor’s superfecta box of seven horses (no key horses as determined by handicapping in the above scenario) at a cost of $840. You have reduced your costs by $760 ($840 - $80) while also having a great shot at getting the superfecta.
In he above scenario, let’s say your winning $1 superfecta ticket paid $1,000. If you had played a 7-horse box at a cost of $840 your profit would be $160 ($1,000-$840). With the part key superfecta wheel your profit would be $920 ($1,000 - $80). Which would you rather have?
While you will cash a lower number of winning superfecta tickets using the wheel and part-wheel superfecta wagering strategies, your net profit will be much higher – assuming your handicapping is relatively sound.
Good handicapping is essential, but creativity in structuring your bets to cover the highest number of probable combinations for the least amount of money is the real key to profitable superfecta betting.
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