In general, around the world, the most profitable wager on greyhound racing is the TRIFECTA pool.

Unlike horseracing, there is contact between racers in every dog race, usually a great deal of contact.  Because of this it is quite difficult to predict the outcome of most races, especially for third place (SHOW).

This is exactly why the TRIFECTA pay offs are often quite fat! And, because of this they are worth going after. We’ll study here how to go about making some money from this pool.

The approach for this wager must be crafted to the handicapper’s skill and experience.  It will almost always also vary from track to track, and often even from grade to grade.  This makes it critical for the bettor who is serious about making a profit to KEEP RECORDS.

Without making notes of one’s past experience at the tracks there is little hope of turning any profit. And hauling money to the track and leaving it there time after time grows very dreary very quickly!

In this article we will not discuss handicapping methods or the skill of back-testing your wagering approach.  I’ll presume you have a handle on the basics of handicapping, and if you don’t practice the regular back-testing of your wagering approach then reading this article likely won’t provide any benefit to you.

There may be some approaches to the TRIFECTA wager that you may not have considered. Perhaps you will find some food for thought here.

For example, one of the most common complaints that I hear goes something like this: “I do fairly well at selecting the winning dog most of the time, but my problem seems to be in predicting the PLACE and SHOW  finishers!”

I will slip in one handicapping tip here: it pays to improve your skill at selecting non-contenders, or dogs to “throw out” of your TRIFECTA wager!  In fact, this might be the most important factor in a profitable TRIFECTA strategy. 

You may remember my quote: “Even a three-legged dog can sometimes come in to SHOW!”  That’s not far from the truth. Still, placing an “ALL” in the SHOW position of a TRIFECTA can be a bit expensive. 

So do devote some time into becoming better able to recognise traits and circumstances that will allow you to reasonably “eliminate” at least one or two contestants from the probability of stumbling in to ruin your carefully-planned TRIFECTA  wager. 

This won’t be possible in every race, however, so be prepared to sometimes include every mutt in the SHOW position.

In any case, your handicapping of the race must include the “lining up” of all eight dogs in the order of your estimation of their capabilities. I will be speaking here of arranging wagers in terms of your rankings, not the blanket number of the dogs. In other words, a “12/1234/12345” wager would be your highest ranked two dogs in the WIN position, your top four dogs in the PLACE position, and your top five dogs in SHOW. Your actual dog number wager might be such as: 24/1246/12468.

It is simple enough to compute the cost of various types of TRIFECTA wagers. The example above, for instance, would cost $18, based on a $1 wager.

To compute this, multiply the number of dogs in the WIN position, (2) with one fewer of the dogs in the PLACE position (3), with two fewer than the dogs in the SHOW position (3).  2 X 3 = 6, 6 X 3 =18.

For a $2 wager, simply double this.  This formula works only if you have not deleted any of your selections from the PLACE and SHOW positions, and if you have more than one dog in the WIN slot. 

A very handy calculator to instantly compute the cost of ANY wager is available free on the Internet at:

Now, let’s study the various kinds of circumstances that might be addressed by different types of wagering approaches . . .

Of course, if you feel confident that a certain dog is likely to WIN the race, but consider that all seven of the other dogs have about an even chance of coming in second or third, you are left with making a “WHEEL” wager. 

That is, 1/ALL/ALL. ($42, for a $1 base.)  This is seldom a wise approach, as any dog you feel that strong about is likely to be bet heavily by other fans, thusly producing a rather slim pay-off if it wins.  However, if all seven of the other dogs are “three-legged”, and some have quite long odds, it is possible that you may make a modest profit from such “wheels”.

Much more desirable is that you will be able to sort out at least a few races on the card in which there is not one strong favourite, but two or three which have about an equal chance of winning. With luck, one or two of these others are likely to go off at reasonably long odds.

Likewise, you’ll sort out, say, the four or five dogs that have a reasonably good chance of PLACING, and another few dogs who may stumble in for a SHOW.  Here, then, you have a chance of catching a larger prize, as you’ll have covered the possibility of a longer-odds dog making the win.

(They say that when you are holding a winning ticket it’s nice to hear as little cheering as possible after the finish – meaning that very few others are going to share the pool with you!)

But let’s go back for a minute to the scenario of your having a very strong selection to WIN, and the majority of the fans agreeing with you. It may still be possible to craft a winning TRIFECTA ticket, IF you have honed your skills at sorting out the most likely PLACE and SHOW dogs.

Suppose, for example, you feel that only three of the remaining seven dogs have a legitimate chance of PLACING, and that you can throw at least a couple of mutts out of a probable chance of SHOWING. Now, you might craft such as a 1/234/23456 wager, costing only $12.

Few $1 TRIFECTAs pay this little. Suppose you might anticipate such as a modest $50 casher.  This could be the time to increase the base of your wager. Suppose you made it a $4 base, instead of $1 – you’d cash your ticket for (about) $200, instead of just the $50.  Same percentage, but more $$$ in your pocket!

Remember, though, that few handicapping “experts” can pick the winner more than about 30 per cent of the time, so KEYING only your top selection to WIN on every race is going to provide you with a majority of worthless tickets!

You have to be selective when choosing your best opportunities. (Repeat that last sentence to yourself over and over!)

Another scenario is one in which you feel quite strongly about your top selection, but can picture the possibility of a couple of other dogs catching a break and beating that dog, you can structure your wager accordingly.  In other words, if you feel strongly that your top pick will “likely” win, but just might PLACE instead, (probably making a larger pay-off), you could wager 1/234/23456, and ALSO 234/1/23456, for a total of $24. Often, in this case, I would make a larger wager on the 1/234/23456 than on the 234/1/23456.

Of course, we all like to catch that occasional “whopper” pay-off! (In the US we call those “signers”, as any pay-off of over $600 on a $1 base wager results in a Government form being filled out, signed by you, and sent to the income tax department by the track…)  Obviously, you won’t catch many “OH BOY!” prizes by betting only on strong selections.

In fact, one hopes to come across probabilities that the crowd’s favourite might get beat. This is often set up by the favourite being placed in an unfavourable starting box, or next to some dogs that are likely to get out of the box quicker and cause the favourite some trouble. Are you good at spotting such scenarios?  Work on it!  Such cases can provide situations in which it is practical to risk a few more dollars. 

You might even find it sometimes practical to place wagers as large as such as 1234/12345/123456, ($64), or even 1234/12345/ALL, ($96), (in case you can’t find ANY dogs to eliminate from the SHOW position).  Chances are, when your fourth pick WINS, your fifth pick PLACES, and a 50/1 dog SHOWS you won’t have much company at the cashing window! 

In fact, at many tracks, tickets like this sometimes result in one ticket taking the whole pool! Do not consider that I recommend $96 wagers as a rule, but now and then something like this might fit a certain situation. 

Sometimes, such finishes even result in pay-offs such as 1/2/ALL.  In this case, no bettor, including you, had the SHOW finisher on his ticket. While the pay-off will compute to a smaller amount, you will win it TIMES as many dogs as you did have in the SHOW position. For example, if the pay-off was 1/2/ALL = $100, and you had six dogs in the SHOW position, you would receive $600. (Presuming that you had the WIN and PLACE selections correct.)

There are countless other wager combinations that can be used. I am not recommending any of them to be right for you – you have to fit your wager structure to your handicapping skills and to each race’s set-up. I can only say that sticking with a straight bet of 1/2/3, ($2), will almost certainly result in a large stack of un-cashable tickets.  Dog racing is simply not that predictable. But that’s exactly what creates the possibility of a good profit for the handicapper who realises this, (and who has the resources to sometimes cover “wider” wagers).

By William ‘Bad Bill’ McBride


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