ABC WageringDo you enjoy playing multi-race bets?

Whether it’s a pick 3, pick 4, pick 5, or the elusive pick 6, you should be maximizing your opinion and budget every time you bet into these pools using the ABC wagering method.

Now, I am not talking about learning the alphabet. The ABC method of structuring tickets should be the starting point for playing multi-race bets. Steve Crist, in his best-selling book “Exotic Betting”, wrote about this methodology of betting.

Not only did he coin the ABC method, but he has shown that over the years if you are an astute horseplayer this is the way to maximize your opinion. So what is the ABC method you ask?

Well, first let’s identify what it is not.

If you are not using the ABC wagering method then you are playing the “caveman” ticket – meaning you are assigning the same weight (chances of winning) to each horse in each race within the sequence. While that method does work, you are not taking advantage of your handicapping acumen.

Do you really think that all your selections in a particular race have an equal chance of winning and carry the same amount of value? Do you have an open bankroll where the cost associated with structuring your ticket has no budgetary constraints?

If you meet those criteria, then this article is probably not for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for a way to enhance your return on investment (ROI) with a given bankroll limit, the ABC wagering method is for you.

As a horseplayer, you should recognize that some horses have a better chance of winning a race than others. Why not assign a greater portion of your bankroll to those horses in order to maximize your opinions. That is what the ABC wagering method can help you do.

Let’s identify what makes a horse an A, B, or C. “A” horses are those that you believe have the best shot of winning the race, or a horse whose percentage chance of winning the race (in your opinion) is better than the odds shown on the tote board (given the morning line). Your “A” horses are your most likely winners or best value horses. “B” horses are those that have a shot of winning the race, but maybe do not have the attributes of “A” horses. They can also be horses whose odds are lower than your perceived belief of their actual chances of winning (underlay). “C” horses or “bombs” are those horses that need a lot of things to go right for them to cross the wire; first but the cost associated with having them on your ticket is less than the risk of leaving them off or them winning at a huge price.

Once you go through all the legs in the sequence and assign horses as “A”, “B”, or “C” contenders you can structure your tickets in a manner that portions a greater percentage of your bankroll on “A” plays.  While you will have multiple tickets for one multi-race sequence, in the long run, you are cutting down the cost of a “caveman” ticket and putting a larger portion of your bankroll on your strongest opinions.  See an example below.

In this example, I am playing a pick 4 with a $48 budget. I have selected the runners as follows:


If you were to play all your selections using the “caveman” manner, you would be playing a $1.00 Pick 4 with a total ticket cost of $48.00.

Ex. 2/4,5,6,7/ 3,4,5,6/2,4,7 at $1 = $48.00

In the ABC wagering method I would instead make separate pick 4 wagers: 

The first using all A selections:

$2.50 Pick4 2/4,5/3,4/2,4 for $20

The next two using B horses in 1 leg with all other legs A horses and lowering the base amount accordingly:

$1.50 Pick4 2/6/3,4/2,4 for $6.00
$1.50 Pick4 2/4,5/3,4/7 for $6.00

The next using 2 legs of B selections with the remainder A horses and again lowering the base amount:

$1.00 Pick4 2/6/3,4/7 for $2.00

Lastly, should we choose to we can also add in our C wagers with the A horses such as:

$1.00 Pick4 2/7/3,4/2,4 for $4.00
$1.00 Pick4 2/4,5/5,6/2,4 for $8.00

That is a total of $46 with a  higher base cost on my A and B selections, therefore, appropriating a larger portion of my bankroll on those selections that I feel have a better chance of winning their individual races.

Using the ABC method you could realistically hit the pick 4 for $4.00 and even if a “B” or “C” horse crossed the wire first, you still increased your winning as the minimum ticket put in using this method was $2.00.

The ABC system is not going to find the winners for you; that’s your job as a handicapper. However, if you are successful in navigating the sequence, the ABC methodology will help generate a higher ROI and that, my friends, is the difference between investing and gambling.