How to Thrive on the Pick-5

With many tracks now offering a lower takeout Pick-5, it has been rapidly growing in popularity and has become the go-to bet for many players. That popularity has created huge liquidity in one of the few pools where the new Computer Robotic Wagering (CRW) methods seem to have very little edge over the everyday player. Given that, I thought players would love to hear the insights of a few highly respected, successful players about how to structure tickets and attack the Pick 5. There is a lot of great information and discussion about handicapping races generally available but not nearly so much about how to structure tickets and bet races based on your handicapping opinion. This is an attempt to begin to address that deficiency for what is one of the most popular and challenging wagers of all, the Pick-5. I asked four top players to answer a list of questions. Their full responses to each question are included at the end but we will begin with a brief summary of their combined wisdom focusing on points of general consensus but also highlighting some key differences. I know I learned a lot through these discussions, and I hope that you will as well. Please click on the following link to find out more.

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  • This is absolute GOLD. Terrific observations….and written in a way that is very easy to understand. Even an experienced player who feels “I know a lot of this stuff already” will find some new/innovative points in this article. Perhaps most significant, in my view, is the way that this article articulates concepts in a much more clear and direct fashion than many of us could articulate in our own words. This does a great job of taking something one may feel in one’s gut and expressing that in a clear and concise way that feels actionable. Thanks a lot!!

  • I’m primarily a P4 player. Below are observations I’ve come to terms with when structuring tickets. I didn’t see these mentioned in this article, but maybe the handicappers just inherently include them within the handicapping exercise. At any rate, I’ll toss them out there as food-for-thought…

    1) An “A” horse in a cheap claiming race should often not be given the same weight (in ticket structure) as an “A” horse in a MSW, allowance, or above. Generally, MSW, allowance, and above are physically sound animals, while cheap claimers on the other hand are cheap claimers for a reason; less trust-worthy.

    2) Handicap without the Morning Line (ML) the first time through. Then go back and use the ML to see what you may have missed. Too often the human nature in us let’s the ML influence our grading of the horse’s chances; even if it’s unintentional.

    3) THIS ONE ISN’T SCIENTIFIC BUT WITH A LIMITED BANKROLL DECISIONS MUST BE MADE… If you have 2 races in the sequence with a similar number of A,B,C horses in both races, but one is dirt and one is turf, then I like to opt for deeper in turf and shallower in dirt. This is because turf races seem to come down to close finishes (photos & head-bobs) and more bad trips more often than dirt races, which are more often won by daylight. PLUS turf races tend to be full fields and dirt races are rarely same count. AGAIN, this only applies if you need to pare down due to bankroll, and all things being equal.

    4) This is just my personal preference when structuring P6 tickets with a syndicate or group, mainly on big race days like BCup, Triple Crown, etc… instead of the Steven Crist A,B,C method, I prefer to use a 9-point system. Allow participants to assign 9-points to the horses in each race. This allows differentiation to occur. For instance, in a wide open BCup race you might assign 3-points to 3 horses, if you felt that locks down that race, and I would equate that to 3 B’s with no A’s or C’s. If you assign 1-point to 9 different horses, then its considered to be wide open, with no A’s or B’s. With simply the A,B,C method people aren’t required to differentiate to scale. The 9-point forces an opinion.

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