How to calculate the cost of a multi-race wager

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

September 20th, 2022

In horse racing, multi-race wagers like the double, Pick 3, and Pick 6 are among the most popular bet types. By requiring bettors to select two or more consecutive winners, multi-race wagers can exponentially increase payoffs compared to betting individual horses to win.

But betting multi-race wagers can also come with an exponential increase in cost. A Pick 4 with a 50-cent minimum bet amount can indeed be played for 50 cents if you use only one horse in each of the four races, but using multiple horses per race is a common strategy for success, and doing so increases ticket cost.

Have you ever wondered how to calculate the price of a multi-race wager? Wonder no longer, because it’s easy and straightforward.

How to calculate the cost of a multi-race wager

Let’s say you’re betting a $1 Pick 6 and you wish to use two horses in every race. Calculating the final cost is a simple multiplication problem involving the number of horses you use in each race times the base cost of the bet.

Using the Pick 6 example above, the formula for calculating the cost is 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 1 = 64, or $64.

Now let’s explore a more complex example. Let’s say you’re betting a 50-cent Pick 4. You plan on using three horses in the first leg, two horses in the second leg, a single horse in the third leg, and five horses in the fourth leg.

The formula for calculating this ticket price is 3 x 2 x 1 x 5 x 0.50 = 15, or $15.

Takeaways from calculating ticket costs

Viewing the formulas spelled out in this manner, it’s easy to see how each horse you add increases ticket cost, though the extent of the increase depends on how many other horses you’re using in a specific race.

In our Pick 4 example, adding a sixth horse in the fourth leg increases the ticket cost marginally to $18. But if you added a second horse in the third leg (where you had previously used a single horse), the cost doubles from $15 to $30.

In other words, ticket costs increase according to the percentage by which you increase the number of horses used in a race. Using six horses instead of five horses is a 20% increase, which boosts the cost of your ticket by 20%—in this case, from $15 to $18. Using two horses instead of one represents a 100% increase, so your ticket cost likewise increases 100% from $15 to $30.

By the same token, using one horse in a race instead of two cuts the ticket cost in half, reiterating the value of building multi-race wagers around trustworthy singles.

Now that you’re up to speed on calculating the costs of multi-race wagers, you’re ready to plan your betting strategies effectively and take aim at profitable returns on investments. Good luck!