Selection Of Exotic Bets – Part One

EXOTIC bets can be an attractive proposition for punters as they can offer some big payouts for small stakes but can they really be made profitable? Absolutely they can and this article is here to help you understand the nature of the bet and hopefully how you can extrapolate some value from them.

First and foremost then the reason I love an exotic bet is the fact that I’m playing against other punters and not the bookmaker. This in itself is the sole reason that I bet into the pools not because I can win large sums for small stakes! (although that is still an attractive feature of course!)

As with any pool bet the punting public pumps money into the pool in an attempt to predict the outcome of that particular pool. The Tote (or Betfred as it is now) takes between 16.5% and 30% out for admin and re-investment into the industry and we’re left with a “sum”of money that is there to be won by whoever gets the correct outcome.

So how do we go about determining the best way to play these types of bets? There are times when we should avoid betting exotic bets and there are times when we should be knuckling down and attempting to find that winning combination. Let’s look at an example using the Exacta:

We have a five runner handicap with a 4/6 favourite and the next in the betting is 2/1 followed by a 9/1, 12/1 and the outsider at 16/1. Working through the form we arrive at the decision that the two at the top of the market are surely the one’s to beat and the remaining three are simply there to make up the numbers. That’s is your final decision. This is where we would avoid betting into the pool because everyman and his dog will be diving in and predicting the jolly to beat the second jolly. These type of situations are when we are agreeing with the masses and will never make a profit.

The next example is actually the same race. You’ve seen massive holes in the favourites form and the market seems to have latched onto the fact that it’s a well known trainer and jockey combination and every newspaper has lazily tipped it. You can see beyond this and think today it will flop. Now we have scope to play into the pool. We’re opposing the masses and this is where we can find our value.

You think the second favourite is the one to beat and the next in the betting, the 9/1 shot is massively over-priced and has a chance of getting up to be in the frame. By simply removing the jolly from our bet we are now in with a chance of winning more of the pool’s money because we know that the majority of punters will have the favourite in their predictions. This of course works with any pool bet. Opposing the favourite will always immediately put you ahead of the game.

More on the selection process a bit later on. We now need to understand the importance of structuring our bet. The structure of the bet can play a big part in our overall profits and we need to be careful as there are so many permutations.

If we fancy two horses and we’re playing the Exacta then by “reversing”them we have two chances to win. Selection one to beat selection two and vice versa. Of course this means that we have to stake twice to cover both outcomes. It becomes possible to cover more horses and the stakes increase. If we fancy three horses and want them in any order it then becomes six bets. To work out our staking we need to multiply the number of selections by the preceding number. For example 10 selections would be multiplied by 9 equaling 90 combinations. 12 selections would be 132 and so on.

It would therefore be completely pointless in covering lots of horses meaning we have more chance of winning and the first two in the market oblige we would of course return more than what we invested. I have seen many bets where the punter has done a reversed Exacta on the first two in the betting only to return less than actually having the same stake on the winner alone. There’s no value in that!

So one of the better ways to construct these type of bets is too play with a “banker.”By honing in on one horse that you feel has the best chance of winning we can then perm our bet more effectively. Let’s go back to the 5 runner handicap. You’ve decided to play because you feel the jolly will flop. It’s the 2/1 horse that you feel will win with the 9/1 shot having every chance of getting up. Now with confidence that the 2/1 would be your banker and your prediction would be the 2/1 shot beating the 9/1 shot. Should that happen you’ll be in for a big payout for a one unit stake. For those of you who are more cautious you may wish to include another horse. Let’s say we choose to cover the favourite. We would still use the 2/1 shot as the banker but we could then have the jolly and the 9/1 as our next selections. This would still only be 2 bets but we have covered three horses. We would still be hoping that we get the 9/1 in second but as a safety margin if the jolly did get up for second we will have still secured a return.

So we now understand the basics and more importantly the staking and structuring of the Exacta. The same principles can be applied with the Trifecta and the Swinger if you wish but I find these pools have little money in them and offer no value.

A simple selection process for the Exacta is to find 10+ runner handicaps where it’s difficult to find the combination. However the value can be tremendous and if played with a long term approach we can certainly reap the rewards.

As with any race I look for the likeliest winner to use as my banker and then look for horses that are likely to be placed. Using my top selection as my banker I then look to place two horses behind it. That’s two bets and although my strike is low when I win I can win big!

I’ll be back next week with a more detailed look at how I actually go about choosing my exotic bet plus a more detailed look at Trifecta’s and my favourite the Placepot.

Eddie Lloyd

I have been a professional gambler for 3 years now and spend all my days searching for "value" within Horse Racing. I'm also a keen musician and love travelling around the world.


  1. Really looking forward to your views on the placepot as this is a bet i play daily and make a profit even though I keep tinkering with various ideas.The only one process I never change is that I always leave the favourite out and start from there.

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