While the Big 6 is an attractive bet for small punters (BIG rewards for LITTLE outlay), the reality is that it’s a real tough cookie!

As Barry Meadow, the authoritative US expert says: “Multiple win exotics can turn a mediocre meeting into something memorable. They can also drive you to the loony bin, especially when you’re alive for the whole pool into the last and get beaten a nose.”

Barry has won a lot of money on the ‘Pick 6’ in America. But the big syndicates moved in over there and began to crush the pools.

The bet remains popular, even though small punters face a hard time trying to land the six required winners.

It’s the same here in Australia. The Big 6 has been embraced but, like a lottery, it’s a bit of a dream and those who have a go do so in hope rather than expectation.

So what can you do to achieve a fighting chance? Let’s see what Barry Meadow has to say in his best-selling book Money Secrets At The Racetrack: “And certainly the risks in Pick 6 play are far greater than those in straight wagering. It’s easy to lose 100 consecutive Pick 6 plays.

“If you’re betting tiny tickets, you could go to the track every day for a year and never hit, tossing away thousands of dollars in the process. If you’re playing big tickets, you may be tempted to spend too high a percentage of your bank roll on the Pick 6.

“By joining a partner or partners on a ticket, you increase your chances of hitting without having to drastically raise the stakes. Better to have $200 of a $1,000 winning ticket than to play your own $200 ticket which falls just short.”

It’s interesting to calculate what chance you have of winning a Big 6. Turn the expected win odds of your selections into percentages and multiply.

Race 1: .45, .20, .15 total (.80)
Race 2: .50 total (.50)
Race 3: .30, .25, .15, .15 total (.85)
Race 4: .60 total (.60)
Race 5: .25, .25, .15, .12 total (.77)
Race 6: .35, .20, .15 total (.70)

This combination is a 3x1x4x1x4x3 totalling 144 combinations. Using $1 units, that is, of course, a $144 bet. What is your chance of winning? Around 11 per cent. This is arrived at by multiplying all the total decimals for each leg (as listed above).

Knowing this, you now estimate how much that Big 6 really should pay, given that you have only an 11 per cent chance of hitting it. Meadow estimates that a payoff would need to be around $1,309 to hit a break even point.

He adds: “The small player must hone in on several races, trying desperately to get at least one (and possibly four) singles home. The syndicates, though, can afford to be wrong on every race and still hit the jackpot. A ticket of 2-4-4-4-5-6 would run to $7,680 ($2 units in the US, $3,840 using $1 units in Australia) but on a day when every race looks open . . . such a ticket could be worth upwards of $200,000, even if nothing especially weird comes in. Little players cannot possibly have such coverage.”

Meadow says that on a day when there does appear to be one standout single, the little guys go 1-2-2-2-2-3 for $96 ($48 Australia) while the syndicates might go 1-4-4-5-6-6 for $5,760 ($2,880 Australia).

He adds: “While the big players may lose money if the number comes back short, the little guy has almost no chance to take down that giant $175,000 payoff with his ticket, while the big guy does.”

It all sounds a bit dispiriting, doesn’t it? Let’s take a look, though, at some combinations we can consider. We’ll start on a high outlay and work down.

COMBINATION:  1-1-2-4-7-7 costing $392 for $1 units. This means that in two of the Big 6 legs you are going to ‘go solo’ on a standout pick. You are entrusting your fate to one horse in two of the legs. In one other, you will have two selections, in another you will go wider and have four selections running for you, and then in two of the legs you will have seven horses in each.

This is not a bad approach provided you are confident in going solo with a couple of the races.

COMBINATION:  1-1-2-5-5-7 costing $350. Once again, you have two races isolated to have just one banker solo selection. You need to be deadly accurate. You also have a two selections race, and then the other three are divided into five selections in two and seven selections in one of them. Some of you may always prefer the final leg of the Big 6 to comprise the seven selections!  Not many punters like to be sitting on a solo banker if they have already landed five legs of the Big 6!

COMBINATION: 2-2-2-3-3-3 costing $216. Now we are slipping down in the cost factor but you are restricting your prospects in each race. In three of them you have two picks in each, and in the other three races you have three picks in each. It’s not a bad spread but you may find it hard to maintain the winners through the whole six races.

COMBINATION: 1-1-1-5-5-5 costing $125. Now you are really putting your selection skills to the test, in three of the races anyway. You are going solo in these three races . . . just the one selection. If you are confident about them, this is not a bad bet. If you can stay secure on the three one-pick races you will have three other races with five selections in each, surely enough to enable you to hit the winners.

COMBINATION: 1-2-2-2-3-3 costing $72. This is the smallest ticket we are suggesting. In one race, you must rely on a solo selection, in three others you have just two selections, while in the other two legs you have three selections in each. A reasonably skinny approach but not bad for those among you who fancy their selecting skills!

Don’t forget to multiply the percentages in each race to determine your overall chances of landing the Big 6. Then, thinking long-term, you can estimate how much your divvie should be based on what you are outlaying.

MONEY SECRETS AT THE RACETRACK by Barry Meadow, available at most Internet bookshops, or direct from www.trpublishing.com.

By Jon Hudson