Superfecta Wagering – The Secret to Scooping Superfecta Wagering Pools

by | Last updated May 8, 2023 | Horse Betting

Superfecta betting has always been a bit of a lottery akin to pure gambling, but if you’re going to swing for the fences, why not take some real shots?

While it is never wise to bet a race without having some kind of a handicapping edge on the crowd, there are other ways to gain advantages which are unknown to most bettors. We’ve used the superfecta betting technique below to scoop (take all of) the superfecta pool on at least 50 occasions, and while the average payoff was only $1500, that was often the whole pool at smaller tracks. Using this technique on big races like the Kentucky Derby and any of the Breeders’ Cup races can be extremely lucrative – even life-changing – if you hit the big one.

When minimum superfecta bets were $1, it was easier to scoop the pool, especially at the smaller tracks. With the advent of 10 cent and 20 cent superfecta minimum bets, pool scooping became tougher because bettors could cover more combinations for less money – but superfecta pool scooping is still alive and well! Here’s why.

We’ll use a 14-horse field as our first example. In a 14-horse field there are 24,024 possible superfecta combinations (14 * 13 * 12 *11). To cover all these combinations in a $1 superfecta box would cost you $24,024. Nobody can do that. Nobody does. It would be, well, just plain stupid.  If the favorites ran in the money you would have to split the pool with the 90 percent of bettors that had the favorites on their superfecta tickets, which would result in a huge loss on your outlay of cash. The point we are trying to illustrate is that because there are so many possible combinations in the above example, and because most superfecta bets include the favorites, 90 percent of the possible combinations go unplayed.

Consider this more common example. In a 10-horse field there are 5,040 possible superfecta combinations. A $1 superfecta box of the field would cost you (10 * 9 * 8 * 7) $5,040. Often, at smaller tracks, the superfecta pool will be less than the number of possible combinations.

For example, at a small track, a 10-horse field might have only $2000 in the superfecta pool. Assuming a $1 minimum superfecta bet, $2,000 bet into the pool means 2000 of the possible 5,040 combinations have been covered. There are no live tickets on the remaining 3,040 combinations. Additionally, of the 2000 combinations that have been bet, up to 90 percent include the favorites, which leaves even more combinations uncovered.

Amazingly, even at tracks where the minimum denomination for a superfecta bet is 10 cents, all combinations are not covered. In a 10-horse field, a 10-cent superfecta box including all 10 horses would cost $504 (10 percent of the $1 cost of $5,040 for boxing the field.)

So, we have determined that all combinations have not been covered, and that boxing the whole field would be a money losing proposition, simply because one or two of the favorites might finish in the money and lower the payoffs due to the fact that so many bettors have bet combinations with the favorites. But what happens if two or more of the favorites run out of the first four in the superfecta in a 10-horse field? Well, because the majority of the 2000 combinations that were bet included those favorites, there’s a chance that nobody has the winning combination. In this case the superfecta pays out to anyone who has the first three horses in the superfecta followed by any horse in the fourth position. And occasionally, in very big fields, the superfecta will pay out to anyone who has the first two finishers correct followed by any horse in the third and fourth positions.  While the latter scenario sometimes results in one ticket taking the entire superfecta pool (scooping the pool), usually there is more than one winning ticket. While the payoffs are still good, the real money comes when you have the only winning ticket and scoop the entire superfecta pool. So how do you do that? The method we use follows below.

Keep in mind that we like to use this method on races where we think the favorites have a good chance of finishing worse than second.  Most superfecta bettors play the favorites in the top two positions. Far fewer combinations are bet with the favorites finishing third and fourth. And even if the favorite finishes second, if you get a longshot home in front and decently priced horses in third and fourth, the payoffs can still be decent. Sometimes the superfecta can pay decently even if the favorite wins and longshots finish in second, third and fourth, but this is generally not a pool-scooping scenario.

This is the method we use to cover as many combinations as possible for a low cash outlay. We’ll use a 10-horse field for our calculations.

1. Find a race in which you think the favorites have a good chance of finishing worse than second.

2. Find three horses you think have a good chance of finishing somewhere in the top four positions, preferably overlays that the many bettors are not using.

3. Play three horses in four separate wheels as follows (we’ll use horse numbers 3,4 and 5 as the horses we need to finish in the top four in this example.) Here is how we play the tickets:

Ticket 1 $1 Superfecta Wheel 3,4,5 with 3,4,5 with 3,4,5 with ALL = 42 combinations = $42

Ticket 2  $1 Superfecta Wheel 3,4,5 with 3,4,5 with ALL with 3,4,5 = 42 combinations = $42

Ticket 3  $1 Superfecta Wheel 3,4,5 with ALL with 3,4,5 with 3,4,5 = 42 combinations = $42

Ticket 4  $1 Superfecta Wheel ALL with 3,4,5 with 3,4,5 with 3,4,5 = 42 combinations = $42

In the above example, in a 10-horse field, we have now covered 166 combinations for $166, BUT, because we have used overlays and included an ALL leg in first, second, third and fourth, we have covered numerous combinations that 90 percent of bettors playing the favorites haven’t covered. This means that even if you don’t scoop the pool, the superfecta payoff is still likely to be very lucrative because very few bettors have the winning combination.

Let’s say the three horses you played in your superfecta wheels are at odds of 7-1, 3-1, and 10-1. What happens if your ALL leg comes in on top in the form of a 15-1 shot or better.  So the first four finishers in the superfecta are odds of 15-1, 7-1, 3-1 and 10-1. How many bettors do you think will be holding a winning ticket? Very few, and most of those will be lucky number box bettors. The point is, the superfecta will pay big. Even if the 3-1 shot wins you’re still going to get back more than the $166 you wagered.

And consider this (which has happened to us on more than one occasion in big fields.) What happens if a huge longshot wins? Let’s say a 50-1 shot. How many bettors do you think will have that combination? Often – nobody. Because you have the ALL leg on top, you have an excellent chance of holding the only winning ticket – especially if the favorites run out of the top four. The best payoff we’ve had in the latter scenario was over $8,000 – and we didn’t even have the fourth place horse on our ticket! The odds on the first four finishers were 49-1, 8-1, 3-1 and 11-1. We got the 49-1 shot with our ALL leg, and the 8-1 and 3-1 horses were two of our three keys. Our third key horse didn’t finish fourth, but it didn’t matter, because we had the only superfecta combination that had the first three horses in the correct order, so we collected the whole pool! Sound like fun? It is!

The strange thing is that you can even win the whole pool when 10 cent and 20 cent minimum superfecta bets are allowed. Bettors simply don’t cover all the combinations – they use favorites.

Now if you really want to get rich consider using the above techniques on Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Day, when the fields are big and the pools are life-changing.

When longshot Mine That Bird won the 2009 Kentucky Derby the $2 superfecta paid $557.006.40. Yes you read that right, it paid over half a million. Mine that Bird(8) was a huge longshot at 50-1, but the second,  third and fourth place finishers  Pioneer of the Nile (16), Musket Man (2) and Papa Clem (7), all had a chance of finishing in the money at odds of 6-1, 19-1 and 12-1 respectively. If you had played a superfecta ticket as we indicated above, you likely would have cashed by having the ALL leg on top (unless you actually handicapped Mine That Bird and Borel on the rail to win!)

Because the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup races often have extra large fields, the cost of using three horses with three horses with three horses with the ALL leg in all four spots in the superfecta is more than usual, but because of the huge pools, the payoffs can be astronomical. This is partly due to the fact that in a 20-horse field there are 116,280 possible winning superfecta combinations. Do you think the crowd covers all those possible combinations with their bets? Not a chance.

To wheel Pioneer of the Nile, Musket Man and Papa Clem with ALL, in all four spots in the 2009 Kentucky Derby superfecta , would have cost you $408 for a $1 wheel, and the tickets would have been played as follows:

$1 Superfecta Wheel 2,7,16 with 2,7,16, with 2,7,16 with ALL = 102 combinations = $102

$1 Superfecta Wheel 2,7,16 with 2,7,16, with ALL with 2,7,16  = 102 combinations = $102

$1 Superfecta Wheel 2,7,16 with ALL with 2,7,16 with 2,7,16 = 102 combinations = $102

$1 Superfecta Wheel ALL  with 2,7,16, with 2,7,16 with 2,7,16 = 102 combinations = $102

The total cost for the $1 superfecta bets above was $408 and the return was $278,503.20 for a $1 superfecta ticket. (The 2009 Kentucky Derby superfecta paid $557,006.40 for a $2 ticket.)

And the return on investment was…

Retirement for some! 

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