Superfecta Wager: How to Play in Horse Racing
by Trevor Whenham - 09/19/2007
When it comes to intra-race exotics, nothing challenges horse racing bettors more than the superfecta wager. It takes a tremendous deal of luck or a whole lot of savvy insight to be a consistent winner at the superfecta. To win the bet, much like the trifecta, which involves the top three finishers, you have to not only pick the four horses that will finish in the top four spots in a given race, but you also have to pick the correct order in which they will finish.
The appeal of the superfecta is the same as all high-risk wagers - the potential payoffs are enormous. It's not uncommon to see a $1 superfecta wager pay $10,000, and significantly bigger payouts are certainly possible. The bet is very difficult to win, but for bettors of the right makeup the benefits can make the risks more than acceptable.
The superfecta wager can be expensive for bettors because you really need to play a number of different combinations of horses and finishing positions to make it worthwhile. If you were just betting one combination in a race then you may as well buy a lottery ticket instead. Whether you choose to box horses or do a superfecta wheel or part wheel, the costs can quickly add up and get out of hand. Despite that, the tracks have found a great way to make the bets accessible to more bettors. Most tracks make either a 20 cent superfecta or a 10 cent superfecta available. That means that each combination only costs a dime or two, and for the $10 that most people would comfortably put on a race, a bettor can cover a meaningful number of combinations. Even with the 10 cent bets the payoffs are regularly in the three digits and often in the four digit range, so the payoff can make the effort worthwhile.
To succeed in superfecta betting over the longer term you need to approach the wager with discipline and logic. Here are a few tips you will want to keep in mind as you go about pursuing the big payoffs:
1. Have the required bankroll. Like all high risk, high reward wagers, you are going to go through long dry spells if you are betting the superfecta. Even good superfecta bettors are going to lose a large majority of the races they play because of the challenges of the bet. If you don't have a deep superfecta bankroll then the losses will break you before the win comes to return you to profitability. This bet needs a bigger working payroll than win or place betting, or even simpler exotics like the exacta.
2. Keep your eye on the price of your tickets. You have to strike a delicate balance when it comes to how much you are spending on each race. On one hand, you want to make sure that you are buying enough combinations to win at a high enough rate to profit over the long run. On the other hand, if you are consistently buying too many combinations, and regularly purchasing combinations full of longshots that don't stand a decent chance of paying off, then you are throwing away some or all of your profits. You need to consistently track and examine the bets you are making to ensure that your bankroll and profitability remain intact.
3. Weak favorites are your friend. Many casual bettors will buy just a few superfecta combinations in an attempt to land the big score. For the most part, those uninformed bettors will buy the combinations that include combinations of the favorites. Your biggest edge as a superfecta bettor, then, comes from playing races in which you are reasonably convinced that the favorite or favorites are not going to end up at the top of the board at the finish line. The payoffs will be dramatically higher, and you need fewer wins to be profitable. As with most horse race wagering, identifying and eliminating false favorites is a very valuable skill.
4. All places are not created equal. In many cases, playing a box is not the best way to approach the superfecta. That's because most horses are not as likely to finish second or third as they are to finish first or last. A front-runner, for example, will either establish a pace that he can hold to the finish line, or he will get caught and passed. In those cases the horse usually fades right out of the picture. Front-runners rarely finish second. To make the soundest possible superfecta wagers you need to quickly but carefully study the past performances so that you know which horses have the tendency to consistently finish second or third, which ones win or fade, and which ones may get a piece of the action but are unlikely to win. Every time you can logically eliminate a horse from a spot on your ticket you have saved yourself several combinations, saved money, and ultimately increased your profitability.
5. Look for superfecta spot plays. Even if you aren't a regular superfecta player you can occasionally find a spot where making the superfecta makes sense. Say you have two horses that you like in an eight-horse field, and one of those horses is a heavy favorite. Boxing the two horses in an exacta would cost you $4 for a $2 exacta bet. Instead, you could buy a partial superfecta wheel with those two horses in the top two spots, and the other six horses in the field boxed in the bottom two spots. That ticket would cost you $6 for a 10 cent superfecta. Though the cost is a little bit higher for the superfecta, the risk is exactly the same as it is for the exacta, and there is a better chance for a high payoff if longer shots come in at the bottom two positions to boost the payoff.