In this special article, two Practical Punting experts argue the 'yes' and ‘no’ case for exotic betting. They debate whether those quinellas, doubles, trifectas, and quadrellas are really worth all the trouble of chasing.

The knocking disease is a well-known ailment in Australia. We all know how anyone who reaches the top in a given profession is almost immediately assailed with knockers, who like to pick him/her to pieces and, generally, cut the tall poppies down to size.

Punting itself has its knockers. So do elements of punting, like the various forms of betting options that are available. They are many and varied.

Doubles, quinellas, trifectas, quadrellas, concession bets, all-up bets... Australia has them all in one form or another.

My task here is to argue positively for exotic betting. I find it an easy task, indeed. And why not?

The exotic races have been initiated over the years by the various TABs around the country in a bid to lure punters into pouring more money through the machines. That's a fair business ploy. The reward for those punters is BIGGER dividends; in short, the chance to virtually 'get rich quick' by landing a trifecta or a big quinella or a hefty double.

Few punters delve into the percentages against them when they dabble in exotic betting - in a way, they are a bit like lotto players in that respect (no lotto player really wants to know that he has the odds stacked against him millions-to-one of winning that major prize).

Numbers players, dream book followers, hunch bettors and, simply, lucky guessers usually grab the whopper dividends on exotic betting - but, make no mistake, the hard-working, intelligent bettors who study hard DO collect a flow of winnings from trying their hand at the trifectas etc.

I know because I'm one of them. My speciality is the trifecta bet.

Okay, let's look at the purely mathematical chances of striking these exotic bets, starting with the tried-andproven daily double (ie picking the winners of the two races selected that day as the TAB Daily Double, or Extra Double).

With twelve runners in each race the double offers 144 different possible winning combinations. At the greyhounds, with fields of eight in each race, the combinations drop to 64.

The odds on picking a trifecta (1, 2, 3 in order of finish) are 1,319-1 in a twelve horse field and 355-1 at the greyhounds.

A lot of people claim the trifecta is simply a numbers game, but I know, and so do many professional punters, that you can make the trifecta work for you, and produce handsome profits.

Over the years I've steeled myself to be a patient punter. I look only for races I feel can offer me VALUE. One of my key tasks for each meeting is to search out what I call the CLASSY STANDOUT bet on the program.

You can quickly find one or two of these superbets at a meeting. Often, I'll see where two horses dominate the race. At other times, I'll spot a natural frontrunner who has the ability to lead from start to finish. Sometimes I'll spot the outsider who I know is capable of running home strongly for a placing at least.

Finding these races is your first task. Then you set about betting as sensibly as you can.

The most popular method is the threehorse, or three-dog, box, costing $6 for $1 units, and $3 if you are betting in 50 cent units.

I prefer the key-box trifecta bet, where you select a certain horse to win, then couple other horses to fill the placings.

At the dogs, this is often a real winner, because for $21 (in 50 cent units) you can couple your selection with the other seven runners. So if your dog wins, you have the entire remaining field running for you to fill the placings. The dividends can be huge.

At the races, I never usually take more than seven horses with my main selection. If I really fancy it, and believe there is a strong chance of a big dividend, I'll keybox it to run lst, 2nd, and 3rd with seven others.

If, by chance, it happens to run 3rd, I'll still strike the trifecta if any of my other seven fill the first two placings. I've lost count of the massive dividends I've secured with this method.

Of course, you must be confident that your banker horse is going to (a) win or, (b) definitely run 2nd or 3rd.

Straight box trifectas are good but they can be very costly. To couple four horses you'll need $24 for $1 units, or $12 using 50 cent units.

For five horses, the cost rises to $60 (or $30) and for six horses it goes to $120 (or $60).. After that it leaps to $210 (or $105).

Then there's the 'single wheel' method, used I know by many prominent professional punters. In a 'single wheel' you select one horse to win and wheel him with every other possible combination.

This requires 210 tickets, or $210 (or $105) in a twelve-horse field. It's often possible, of course, to throw out two or three no-hopers to reduce the outlay.

Another idea that I often use is to select two sure-fire finishers and take all - or several - of the possible chances for third. You can also reverse your first two picks and take them with the horses you have selected for 3rd.

If your good things run lst/2nd then you will secure the trifecta, if your other horses fill 3rd spot.

If you want to cut back on your investment you can merely take your good things to run lst/2nd with three others for 3rd.

Now to quinellas... After studying thousands of past dividends I'm convinced that quinellas are the best 'gimmick' value for average punters.

Final advice: Don't try to beat every race. Select carefully those races in which you'll try the 'gimmick' bets.

Control is the secret of 'gimmick' betting.

Along time ago I convinced myself that I could win at racing by playing quinellas and trifectas. I was wrong.

Okay, I made a few bucks on the quinellas, but the trifectas left me with a breeze in all pockets.

I believe that trifectas, quinellas, and doubles are unsound financial operations from a punter's viewpoint.

You are, at the root of it all, throwing yourself into the arms of Lady Luck - and a generous lady she ain't!

It's all a matter of probabilities, really. Poker players know all about these. They have to know if they are to survive.

Let me put things this way - any event is probable if it is likely to happen. It is possible if it merely could happen.

Example: It's possible for a person to roll 'snake eyes' (a I on each dice) three times in a row. It is NOT probable however since the probability is 1 out of 46,656!

The tables accompanying this article cover the combinations available for quinella and trifecta betting, so you'll be easily able to work out your probabilities of winning.

The word permutation is found in the accompanying Tables. It's a technical word referring to the arrangement of things (horses, for example) in an exact order.

If you had three boxes - A, B, and C and arranged them in groups of two you could do so in six ways - AB, BA, AC, CA, BC, or CB. Each is a permutation.

The same thing applies with quinellas and trifectas.

Each time, each race that is, only one permutation can win (unless there's a dead heat).

Look at quinella betting. In an eight horse field there are twenty eight possible permutations (the eight runners in groups of two).

You may argue that you can cut down the number of combinations by paring away two or three horses without chances. That's an interesting point, but it has flaws.

To attempt to eliminate that number of horses - say three - from an eight-horse field, for quinella wagering, is very tenuous.

It's amazing the number of times old crocks, and no-hopers, get up and run 2nd!

It's the same thing in trifecta betting. The odds against you are extremely high. Grappling with the trifecta, you have to make decisions about a number of horses not being able to fill a placing.

Tough task, sure enough. And doubles are just as bad.

Daily Doubles are usually placed on the toughest races on a day's card. This particularly applies to Extra Doubles.

Taking a double means that you are being forced to bet on the second leg horse without even having the chance to see him parade in the mounting yard. You don't have a clue as to whether he is being supported by the stable.
It's guesswork and that's not good.

If you manage to whittle down the first leg to four chances and the second leg to three prospects you will have a probability of winning that double of 1: 12 (ie 1:4 x 1:3).

From a probability angle, there is something else to consider. The probability of winning on one horse, or any one race, is always better than when another horse (or race) is added to the situation.

In my theoretical double, there is a 1: 12 (or 8.3 per cent) probability of winning it. But notice that there was a 1:4 (25 per cent) and a 1:3 (33 per cent) probability of winning those races separately.

To put it bluntly: The doubles punter ignores those big winning probabilities to settle for one much less in his attempt to link two winners.

Of course, he expected a bigger payout - and he would have deserved it, wouldn't he, having bucked the probabilities that were already in his grasp if he'd settled for one bet and not a double?

I have always found trifecta betting to be a totally discouraging enterprise. The built-in probabilities against winning are enormous - overwhelming, in fact.

Anyone who bets on them and stays ahead of the game has to be divinely inspired.

Daily doubles and quinellas are not as risky as trifectas, but I'm still no fan of them. My style in betting is simply to bet on horses for a win and a place. I want nothing more.

If I can find my one winner for the day, and support it well, I'm delighted. If I can find one solid placegetter a day, and support it well, I'm equally as delighted.

In other words, I'm quite content with what are known as 'little fish' but, my goodness, aren't they sweet?

Think about that when you are crying over the spilt milk of yet another trifecta gone down - lst, 2nd and you missed out on 3rd placing!!

Tough isn't it.


By Brian Blackwell