by Bill Peterson
There are several ways to go about playing the pick six and more than one way to make a profit. The problem for most players is that there are just too many horses in 6 races to play all the possibilities so one or more horses manages to slip in and ruin your chances of winning. But though it is named the pick 6, the pick six is not necessarily just about picking 6 winners.
I know what you’re thinking, then why do they call it a pick 6? They call it that because the persons who do manage to select all six winners will get the top prize, but remember, there is also a consolation pool. So in choosing your bets, you have to decide if you are going to focus on the consolation or the big win. I know that sounds strange, but there are more ways to win than just going for the big prize.
Horse racing handicapping is all about value if you are serious about making money. So in order to figure out how you will structure your ticket, you have to decide what kind of possibilities are offered and what you can afford. That usually means how many horses can you single on your ticket, how many races can be handicapped, and how many races are anyone’s guess.
Once you’ve looked at the races, and I hope you give yourself plenty of time to do this, it is time to decide how many races you can single and how many you can double, etc. Remember this, if you are a good handicapper, you are not the only one who will be choosing between the same horses and rating the races the same. In other words, if you can’t easily figure a race out, and you’re a good handicapper, then there will be many people with the same problem. There will also be many people with a limited bankroll trying to do the same thing you are doing.
Your job is not to beat the races, it is to beat those people. So you have to think of what they will do, which races they will figure correctly and then decide if you are going for the easy bet or the tough one. If there are just too many tough races and no real standout horses, then your best bet is to go for the consolation pool. In order to do that, you can throw away at least one race.
There will be a race where it is about impossible to pick a winner without playing almost every horse in the race. That race is the one that will defeat the crowd because they will pour their money into it, playing as many horses as possible and sacrificing close plays in other races.
You only have to choose one horse in that race in order to complete your ticket, so do it. Then, take the money you would have used chasing long shots in that race and spread it over horses that really do figure in other races. You are not trying to hit the whole six races. Sometimes, if you are lucky, you may do just that, but on the other hand, since you have covered the contenders in races that are logical, you will have a much better chance of hitting the consolation and picking 4 or 5 winners on the ticket.
At the end of the day, it is better to walk out of the track with the consolation money in your pocket than no money at all. In some of those other races you will have to choose between two horses that are both good and closely matched, IF you use the money you would have wasted on the tough race and play them both, you will win on at least one of them and save the ticket. That is how a real handicapper wins.
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