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Pick 3, Pick 4 and Pick 6 Horse Betting Explained

How Pick 3, Pick 4 and Pick 6 Betting Works

If you’re ready to try your hand at a more advanced type of horse betting, then it’s time to step into the box and make some Pick 3, Pick 4 and Pick 6 wagers. Be ready to do your homework, though, because the level of difficulty increases with each, but the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward — especially for those who are bold and skilled enough to have success with Pick 6 bets.

Here’s how Pick 3, Pick 4 and Pick 6 horse betting works:

Pick 3 Wagering

The Pick 3 wager involves structuring a ticket to hit three consecutive races, and before the first race in the three-race sequence starts.

To cash your ticket, you must have the winning horse of all three races on your ticket, no small task. Horizontal wagers can be a bit more complicated to structure and hit, and all of the handicapping has to be done in advance.

For instance, you don’t have the luxury of watching the post parade before deciding which horse to include in the third leg of the Pick 3 sequence. If you can narrow your win candidates to three horses per race, you could play a ticket like this:

1,2,3 / 1,2,3 / 1,2,3 = $27

If you can get bolder and find one race where you feel strong enough to single a horse, you can go deeper in the other races for nearly the same investment.

For example: 1 / 1,2,3,4 / 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 = $28

If your single wins the opening leg, you have four shots in the second leg, and have spread out to seven runners in the third leg. A Pick 3 can be a solid bet if you can find two of the three races in the sequence where you feel the favorite is vulnerable.

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Pick 4 Wagering

The Pick 4 increases in difficulty, as obviously nailing four races in a row is tougher than three, and with so many more horses in the mix, the cost of the ticket can go much higher. However, cashing a Pick 4 can lead to huge payoffs. The average $1 Pick 4 payoff in the Breeders’ Cup from 2009 to 2016 is more than $10,000.

However, you have to bet money to make money. Using three horses in each of the four races in a Pick 4 would cost $81. If you can find a single, it allows you to go deeper in the other legs of the wager.

Here is an example:

1x5x5x3 = $75

Using your single with five horses in the second leg, five in the third leg, and three in the final leg costs $75.

Pick 6 wagering

The Pick 6 gets even tougher, as most tracks have a $2 minimum. However, hitting a big 6 can amount to a life-changing score.

The best way to attack a Pick 6 is with deep pockets. If you don’t have a large bankroll, it is better to join forces with a few horseplayer friends.

Instead of playing a $120 ticket that covers a tiny amount of the combinations, find five or six friends, and play multiple tickets where more combinations would be covered.

OddsShark horse betting expert Michael Dempsey on Pick 3, Pick 4, and Pick 6 wagering:

“Horizontal bets are not for the faint of heart and generally require a nice bankroll and some guts. This year’s Breeders’ Cup will have .50 cent Pick 3 and Pick 4 wagers, which will give the smaller players a fighting chance to make a nice score. Unless you have a big bankroll or feel very lucky, I would not go in the Ultra Pick 6 pool alone. Join forces in a syndicate, or convince some friends to invest. Or borrow money from a rich relative.”