Buzzworthy: What new bet would improve handle?

by Garnet Barnsdale

A question was posed on social media this week about betting that elicited responses that were predictable and some that were interesting, but it also provoked my grey matter to produce some thoughts of my own on the subject.

The question: “If you could come up with a different bet to improve the handle at a track, what would it be?” Lower takeout! While I will always support that idea, that reply didn’t exactly answer the question. There was a suggestion that bettors should be able to wager on who would finish last, but there are obvious reasons why that wager will never be added.

There were some calls for the return of the Twin Double and Twin Trifecta, which could have some merit if takeout was reasonable. I’m not a fan of jackpot wagers on non-mandatory payout nights simply because the takeout is oppressive if you don’t fluke into the lone winning jackpot ticket. The one major consideration any serious bettor must always focus on is takeout because that is what we are trying to beat to show long-term profits. But if the rake was reasonable, those wagers could offer chances at a big score on a nightly basis.

So, getting back to the original question, what different bet can improve handle? What if we don’t need different bets? Why can’t we be more like daily fantasy games?

Consider this: a daily fantasy menu has dozens of games that are all scored the same way based on the result of an individual sporting event. So, why can’t we do the same and give bettors options to play into small or big pools, depending on bankroll and how much a bettor wants to invest.

Now we don’t have to get crazy oversaturating the mutuels, but what if we ran a Pick 4 on the day of the week where handle is typically highest and offered more than one pool with each pool having a different base wager? Small rollers could play into a pool with a 50-cent minimum, medium rollers $1, and high roller could get into a pool that had a $5 minimum.

Gabe Prewitt of Red Mile and Pompano Park fame imagines the possibilities. “I think this is a great idea,” Prewitt replied to the suggestion of the separate Pick 4 pools. “Each with their own carryover potential.”

Any way you slice it, the current pari-mutuel system seems outdated to me and in addition to offering more low takeout bets such as the Woodbine/Mohawk 15 per cent Pick 5 which clearly outhandles both higher rake Pick 4s nightly, maybe it’s long past the time that we thought outside the box when it comes to wagering options for customers.