Greyhound punters playing trifectas face a particular help and a hazard limited field size and hot favourites. Both factors are interesting in that they work in favour of the punter in striking trifectas, and yet against the punter because they cut the value from dividends.

We still have to accept the basic fact that most trifecta punters will lose more races than they win over the long-term haul. The answer, as any professional will tell you, is to find a way of increasing the size of the return on winning tickets.

Trifecta bettors more or less have control of their likely return by the way they structure their bet. Let's look at a punter who likes putting the favourite in his trifectas. He may 'key' the favourite with the next two dogs in the betting (i.e. Fav-2/3 and Fav-3/2). This is a small bet and the returns are going to be small as well.

The punter wins only if the favourite wins and the 2nd and 3rd favourites run the placings. So many punters play this angle that it is inevitable returns are going to be small, even though they may pop up consistently.

A punter who takes the opposite tack, taking the outsider in the field as a 'banker' with the next two longshots, can be assured that when he strikes a trifecta the dividend is going to be big. Obviously, though, he is going to cash far fewer tickets than the punter who takes the favourite as the banker with the 2nd and 3rd favourites.

Neither punter, however, will make money in the long term. The favourite backers will cash plenty of tickets for amounts that will prove too small to make a profit over a period of time while the longshot backers will cash few, but they'll be big ones, but, alas, not enough of them to keep them out of debt!

Trifecta bettors who win over the long grind are those able to find what we might call the 'middle ground' between these two extreme areas. They are the punters who can cash tickets regularly for amounts above the minimal level of the favourite backers and yet below the high level of the longshot seekers.

But how do they do it? Surprisingly, by playing the favourite, or the 2nd and 3rd favourites, in various ways.

Obviously, for value, it's not much use sticking to all three favourites. You have to introduce 'wild card' dogs into the action.

Let's say that you really like the favourite. It's at about 6/4. You will use him as a 'banker' (say Box 1). What you do then is go hunting the value. Wheel in the three longshots (say Boxes 6-7-8) in the race for 2nd and 3rd, and then add the 2nd and 3rd (say Boxes 2-3) favourites for 3rd place as well. You have the combination of Fav/6,7,8/ 2,3,6,7,8. This linkup (1 x 3 x 5) will cost you only $12 if you are using $1 units. Yet it can return you some great trifecta divs.

For example: Let's say the favourite wins at 6/4, and you get a longshot into 2nd place at, say, 16/1 and then the 3rd favourite, say 4/1, into 3rd place. So it's 6/4, 16/1 and 4/1. Using P.P.M's wonderful Trifecta Wheels (available free with a subscription to P.P.M.) you can estimate before the race your likely dividend.

In this case, the Wheels tell us that such a combination is likely to pay around the $84 mark. Your $12 combination has returned a beauty. Imagine, then, if you struck 3rd place with another 20/1 outsider? Your 6/4, 16/1 and 20/1 linkup would, according to the Trifecta Wheels, return around $354.

I am talking in this instance, naturally, of the approaches that can be used by small-bet punters. It is these punters who continually get wiped out by trifecta punting, simply because they cannot afford the money to link-up enough dogs. This, or they simply waste their money on straight 'box' bets, which are all very well but they don't give you enough leverage.

To get a big divvy, you have to sniff the wind of opportunity and take advantage of whatever edge you can glean from the form of the dogs involved in a race. Often, you can find longshots who have been under-rated, and are, therefore, overlays in the betting. Wheel these into your trifectas and you suddenly begin to look good.

If you have a good strike rate with your main 2 selections you should definitely try the proven A-B-Field and B-A-Field linkup. This is a good one at the dogs, particularly if you're the sort of punter who can come up with some value winners around the 5/1 to 10/1 mark.

Let's look at some situations:

  1. Dog 'A' is considered a standout chance, but there is little to separate the remaining runners. As tough as it may be, you must try to rank the best 5 contenders, other than dog ‘A’ in order. Once this is done, follow this betting pattern:

    MAIN BET: A/B, C, D, E, F for 2nd/ 3rd. Cost $20 ($1 units).

    SECONDARY BET: A/B, C, D (for 2nd/3rd). With dog A in the win position, you are keying it with the next three contenders (in your opinion). Cost $6.
  2. Dog A is the top chance, but you strongly fancy B as well. In this case, you need to isolate the best three contenders after A and B.

    MAIN BET: A/B/Field. Bet A in the win slot, B in the 2nd slot, and all other dogs for 3rd. Cost $6.

    SECONDARY BET: A/C,D,E/B. You bet A in the win slot again, the best three contenders other than dog B in 2nd position, and dog B to run 3rd. The cost is $3.

    GRAND SLAM BET: Box A-B-C, AB-D and A-B-E. By doing this you are outlaying another $18 but you are playing your main chances A and B with the other three top contenders in a secure box for each. Cost $18.
  3. Dog A is the main choice. Dogs B and C are about equal for 2nd choice. No other dog appears to be a strong contender.

    MAIN BET: A/B, C/D, E, F, G, H. Bet A in the win slot, dogs B and C for 2nd, and all other dogs (five of them) in the race for 3rd. Cost $10. 

    SECONDARY BET: Box A-B-C. Cost $6.

    GRAND SLAM BET: Use A as banker to win, and link with B and C for 2nd and 3rd. Cost $2.  Also, take B and C in the win slot, with A to run 2nd, and remainder of field (D, E, F, G, H) to run 3rd. This bet protects you if B or C knocks off A; you then hope that one of the other five dogs takes out the 3rd place. Cost $10.
  4. Dog A is the top choice, but dogs B, C and D are all about equal for second contender. No other dog appears to be in contention. 

    MAIN BET: A/B, C, D/E, F, G, H. You play A in the win slot, dogs B, C and D for 2nd, and all other dogs (4) for 3rd place. Cost $12.

    SECONDARY BET: A/B, C, D for 2nd and 3rd. Key your banker A with B, C and D for 2nd and 3rd. Cost $6.
  5. Dogs A and B appear inseparable for top choice. For this situation, you need to determine the next three contenders after A and B. 

    MAIN BET: A,B/A,B/C,D,E,F,G,H for 3rd. You have bet A and B to fill 1st and 2nd and you have the other six dogs running for 3rd place. Cost $12. 

    SECONDARY BET: A, B/AB/ C, D, E for 3rd. Here you have taken A and B for 1st and 2nd with the next best three contenders to fill 3rd place. Cost $6.

    GRAND SLAM BET: A, B/C, D, E/A, B.

You bet dogs A and B to fill the win slot, then have C, D and E to fill 2nd, with A or B left to fill 3rd place. Cost $6.

In examining these situations, a few things have to be made clear. Firstly, a race is a bet only when you are sure there is either a clear first choice or two equal first choices. These dogs should be your own selections - not the favourites as such, although of course sometimes your selections may well be the favourite/s.

There are two reasons for the limited approach. The strongest, obviously, is the need to limit the size of your investment. Secondly, it's also the case that moving your top choice into the 2nd or 3rd position - thus doubling or tripling the number of combinations will rarely reward you with a higher profit margin.

Theoretically, you should hit more trifectas but the percentage increase in wins will usually be less than the percentage increase in the bet size.

Always remember that if you are betting favourites into the quinella, the returns are not going to be enormous, unless you are lucky enough to pin some roughies into 2nd and 3rd. The plan is to seek out value, because favourites 'kill' the trifecta returns, without a doubt. just take a look at some results to satisfy yourself I am right.

by George 'Barker' Bellfield