Jan 13 2015

High and Low – A Superfecta Wagering Strategy

One of the tricks to successful wagering is making the right wagers in the right situations … and recognizing the situation when it appears.  After handicapping a race, a number of scenarios can unfold.  When you’re new to horse racing, it seems like these scenarios are countless.  But, after doing it awhile, you start to see patterns emerge.

High and Low

One pattern I’ve discovered is what I call the  “High and Low” scenario.  High is a identifying a horse that you feel confident is a serious win threat, but isn’t an optimal Win play.  Maybe his odds are too short, or you already have him covered in a Double, Pick-3, or Pick-4 wager.  Low is marking a horse that you feel doesn’t have much chance of winning, but has a legitimate shot of finishing in the “lower rungs” of an exotic wager (like a Superfecta).  Lower rungs for a Superfecta would be 3rd or 4th place.  An added attraction to this play is when your Low horse is long in odds and/or the rest of the field is a wide-open affair (the combination of the two is ideal).

The vast majority of people play Superfectas one of two ways.  Either they box a limited number of horses (4-6) or they employ a Part-Wheel strategy similar to one we described in a prior article.  Click here to review that article.  That works well in situations where you feel you have a good handle on the relative chances of each horse … enabling you to throwout horses that are hopeless  (even for lower rung positions) and key on horses that have the best chance of finishing 1st and 2nd.

But, what about the times when you can’t find horses to throw out?  And all you’ve got is one “High” horse who you feel is likely to win, and one “Low” horse for underneath positions.  It might be time to try a High and Low wager.  And surprisingly, with 10-cent Superfectas, these wagers can be very affordable.

Let’s say we’re going to key our High horse (#1) in 1st and our Low horse (#4) in 4th.  We would place a wager as follows:

10-Cent Superfecta, Part Wheel:  1 with {All} with {All} with 4.

So, how much will this wager cost?  It depends on the size of the field.  So, let’s make F=field size (oh-oh, sounds like Algebra).  Here is the formula.

Total Combinations = 1 x (F-2) x (F-3) x 1.

The 1st and 4th positions represent a single of the #1 horse and the #4 horse in their respective slots.  The 2nd position represents the rest of the field (less the two singles).  The 3rd position is the field, less the two singles, less the horse that finishes 2nd.

Ok, enough with the formulas, let’s look at a table showing what the wager costs for field sizes from 6 to 14 horses.

Field Size Combinations Cost for 10-Cent Superfecta
6 12 $1.20
7 20 $2
8 30 $3
9 42 $4.20
10 56 $5.60
11 72 $7.20
12 90 $9
13 110 $11
14 132 $13.20

As you can see, this can be a very affordable wager.  Affordable enough that you can take a shot with multiple plays.  Let’s say you have a 10-horse field and you’d like to cover your “low” horse in the 3rd and 4th positions.  This would be two separate Part-Wheel plays for $5.60 each.

10-Cent Superfecta, Part Wheel: 1 with {All} with {All} with 4  =  $5.60

10-Cent Superfecta, Part Wheel: 1 with {All} with 4 with {All}  =  $5.60

Now, remember what we said at the top;  making the right wager for the right situation.  If your High horse is 6-5 and your Low horse is 2-1 … and you feel that only half the field has a chance of finishing in the money, then High and Low is not the right wager.

However, speaking from experience, when the right situation presents itself, the High and Low wager can be very rewarding.  Some of my wagering brethren think I’m crazy pigeonholing single horses into slots, but when I come up with one of those winning tickets they just shake their heads in amazement.

In the future we will be providing some actual examples of where High and Low plays were (or should have been) used.  That might spark some ideas of your own for using this type of wager.

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By Neal Benoit

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One comment on “High and Low – A Superfecta Wagering Strategy

  1. Neal, I am a fan of this wagering strategy, although I find myself saying “I don’t want to lose by a nose.” So I usually play the top horse for 1st or 2nd and the bottom horse in 3rd and 4th. It requires 4 wagers, and so to get value, I usually insist that my top horse is at least 3-1 and preferably 5-1 or higher when I place the wager. The bottom horse isnt always a long odds horse when my top horse is at 5-1 or greater.

    Thanks for discussing wagering strategy, its as important as handicapping the likely success of the horses, especially when you have limited bankroll.

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