So easy a caveman could do it

Profile Picture: Ed DeRosa

Ed DeRosa

August 30th, 2013

Playing 25,000 combinations in the Pick 6 doesn't guarantee victory (believe me, I know), but it does allow you to be fast and loose with the opinions.

The question is, do you try to be really right in 1 or 2 races or sorta right in all the races?

As a self-described disciple of Steven Crist and his ABC method of tackling multi-race wagers, I more often lean toward the former, but sometimes the better play (at least in retrospect!) is to just be sort of right on all races (the Crist-called caveman approach).

The Players Pool is a fun and educational opportunity for customers, and since I'm one of those myself I try to have fun and learn from it as well. So what did I learn from yesterday's shut out?

Don't force strong opinions.

In leg 1, we leaned heavily on 4, 9, 11. The 4 finished second as the favorite but never really threatened the winner, who we didn't use on a backup that had two others. I'm fine with leaning on the three we did, but if not them then we should have gone deeper on the main back up.

In leg 2, we didn't lean on anyone, really, going five deep to catch the shortest price in the sequence in $4.10 Kingston Bay. This literally was the worst-case scenario for us because leg 1 winner Nuffsaidnuffsaid was the shortest price of the horses we didn't have on multiple tickets, and we coupled her with the favorite on a ticket that started all with all.

This was a deflating beginning because even though we were "live" it was tough to envision a scenario in which we could profit considering we were now down to two singles who both would be favored.

So what could we have done differently?

Well, we had leg 3 mostly right. Sure, we were four deep, but we were right to go against the favorite. We were wrong on our single in leg 4 (Roses For Romney) but the two we used on the backup ticket both hit the tri, including winner Lady's Lunar Luck. Leg 5 we thought only Racetrack Romance couldn't win, and the longest shot on the board obliged with a last-place finish.

Leg 6 is where we should made the most of a contrarian opinion. I leaned on favored #4 Brandys Secret because I did see her as the most likely winner, but the feeling was if she didn't win any of them could, and indeed, the longest shot on the board Hunters Forward got it done at nearly 35-to-1.

So how could we have stringed these together? Well, we couldn't have leaning on both Roses For Romney and Brandys Secret. Even leaning on one or the other was a path to ruin. We basically made it so one of them had to win, and given the air of vulnerability we thought both had, that probably wasn't the best approach with this size bankroll.

In retrospect, I think we could have "gotten there" going 8 deep in leg 1 (again, acknowledging that we liked 4, 9, 11 most but after that there were 5 others that made sense and 4 who didn't). Leg 2 probably should have been our single if we had any, but this works even with the same quartet we did use. Leg 3 we were four deep. Leg 4 we use our single plus the two from the back up. Leg 5 we use them all except the overmatched 4, and then we use them all in leg 6.

This approach basically is playing AGAINST the two favorites we ended up singling, but if we thought they were fair value at even money then they're still both going to lose 25% of the time. That's 3-to-1 odds, and this 8x4x4x3x6x10 approach would have returned about 9-to-1.

Which approach to take is at the heart of every players pool. There was a pool in late June in which we decided to go against a big favorite. That favorite won, and while we "hit" for 6/6 the wager lost money. This time we decided to go with the favorites and crapped out.

The game is humbling in that way, but at least when you do connect on wagers like this they usually cover the losses!