How To Bet the Daily Double
by Trevor Whenham - 09/12/2007
Are you feeling confident about your horse race handicapping? Find picking winners pretty easy? Then maybe it's time to step up to the Daily Double. The first exotic bet regularly offered by tracks, the Daily Double rewards you if you can pick the winner in two consecutive races. It's essentially a two-race parlay. Normally you will find a Daily Double on the first two races of the day, and again on the last two races. Occasionally, a track will offer it more often during the day, but you always have at least two shots at it. Seems easy, doesn't it? It can be, but it can also be the most challenging, frustrating task ever if you're having a bad day.
Before we look at how to bet the Daily Double, let's look at why we would want to. The bet is attractive mostly because of math. Race tracks make their money from the takeout - the percentage of each bet that they keep for themselves. The Daily Double is collected in its own separate pool, so the takeout is collected separately, and you only pay it once. If you were to parlay the two races yourself then you would be paying the takeout on each race, and you would end up giving significantly more money to the track, thus making it harder to make a profit yourself. The effects of this are shown by the fact that the Daily Double typically pays about five percent more than if you were to bet the parlay yourself.
The timing of the early Daily Double also makes it attractive. Since the bet has its own pool, you are essentially competing against all of the other bettors that make the bet. If you are right and a large number are wrong then you get a good payout. The early Double is often very well bet because people are looking to start the day off with a win. A good portion of the money put on the wager is not particularly well thought out or well handicapped, so there is usually a lot of dead money waiting for you to scoop up. Bad bettors still have money in their pocket at the start of the races, so they can bet on horses with names they like or jockeys with pretty colored silks, and you can laugh all the way to the bank.
The benefit of playing the Daily Double, or any other exotic for that matter, is that you can bet for more than one horse in each race. You pay for each combination you choose, of course, but at least you have multiple chances to win. The trick is to figure out the best combinations to bet to give you a chance of winning and of making a profit. When deciding how to bet the Daily Double here are a few tips to keep in mind:
1) Don't feel like you have to bet the same number of horses in each race. It's amazing how often you will see this - a person likes three horses in one race, so they bet three horses in the other race, too, even if they don't have three horses they like. The fewer horses you bet in a race the better off you are (as long as you are confident your horses have a chance of winning) because the cost of your ticket will be less. The ideal situation is to have just one horse in one race that you are satisfied with. That way you can afford to cover several horses in the other race while still keeping the cost reasonable.
2) Don't always treat all horses equally. It's possible, and even likely, that there will be some horses that you will really like and others that you think will only have a reasonable chance of winning a race. If your confidence is different then it doesn't always make sense to treat the horses the same. You may want to look at betting more on the combinations that feature your favored horses, and less on the other combinations. That means that you are covered if your picks come in, and you are rewarded more substantially if the horses you are more confident about come through.
3) Don't over-commit. It's way too easy to spend too much money on a Daily Double ticket. You can throw in an extra horse here and an extra one there, and all of a sudden you are in a position where you will only break even, or even lose a bit, if some of your combinations come in. It's crucial to determine what an acceptable rate of return is for you and then only make the bet if you stand a reasonable chance of making that return. Remember the old saying - you make your money when you make your bet.