What Is A Trifecta Wheel In Horse Racing and Sports Betting?
by Doc's Sports - 10/13/2014
To understand what a trifecta wheel is in horse racing and sports betting we first obviously need to understand what a trifecta is. Luckily, that’s simple - a trifecta is a bet you can make where you bet on the horses that will finish first, second and third in a race. In order to have a winning bet you not only have to pick the correct three horses, but also correctly pick the order in which they will finish. Because it involves three horses the trifecta is more difficult to win than a win bet or an exacta, so it usually has a much more attractive payoff as a result. Because of that a lot of bettors find the trifecta to be a very useful tool in their betting arsenal. It can, for example, be good to use when bettors really like a heavy favorite and are looking for a way to get a better return than a win bet will offer, or when a bettor really likes a longer shot in a field, and is looking to maximize their return if that horse performs to their expectations.
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Simple math can tell us why the trifecta can be tough to win, though. In an eight horse field, for example, there are 336 different combinations in which horses could finish first, second and third. Only one of those 336 combination will be the correct one, and you have to pick that one, and not the other 335, to get a return on your bet. That’s tough. One way to make it a little easier is to bet on more than one combination. Luckily, the trifecta often pays enough that you can afford to bet several combinations knowing that you are guaranteed to have made some losing bets even if you win.
If you want to bet a whole bunch of combinations you can always just buy a bunch of individual tickets. If you have a lot of different horses involved, though, then that can get very confusing. You could use a trifecta box, which takes a group of horses and bets them in every possible combination. That can get expensive, though, and can sometimes be like using a sledgehammer. When you want to bet a lot of combinations but be more delicate - and manage your costs better to maximize your shot at a long term profit - then a trifecta wheel could be a better choice.
When you are betting a trifecta wheel you bet different combinations of horses to finish first, second and third in a race. The easiest way to understand is with an example. Let’s say that there is an eight horse field. You really like the favorite to win, and there are four other horses that you think will make up the rest of the trifecta. Betting a box with those five horse would cost $60 for a $1 trifecta. Instead, you could bet a wheel where you bet the favorite to win, and the other four horses to finish second and third. The cost of that would be just $12.
Wheels can effectively be used when you have a strong opinion about one horse, and can’t differentiate the rest. You could bet a 1-ALL-ALL trifecta where if the favorite wins you have every possible combination covered. If longer priced horses come in then that could pay better than a win bet on the favorite would. That approach was useful both in the Preakness and the Belmont in 2015 as American Pharoah was en route to his Triple Crown victory, for example.
When you are betting a trifecta wheel you need to be very aware of the cost of the bets. If you involve too many combinations then the cost can be higher than the likely payoff, and you could find yourself losing money despite winning the bet. There is no worse feeling.
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