Chasing the Dragon – Pick-Four Strategies

by Ed Meyer

posted on August 31, 2017 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | 1 Comment >>

This is not the latest horror movie to hit the big screen, – These were the words I once heard during a handicapping contest in Las Vegas. ” If you’re playing the pick-four you’re chasing the dragon.” – I assume it was the difficulty of picking four winners in four separate races. When you start hearing the guaranteed pools start rolling out this time of year sometimes it’s worth the chase. You can’t win it unless you get in it.

Many like to make a “caveman” ticket where you cram as many into your ticket making a large wager that can skyrocket the cost. This is great if you have a pocketful of cash and don’t mind spending the money. – This is a plan for some, but if it is not for you don’t fret. Here are some ideas when it comes to building your ticket.


1. – Get all of the scratches and changes. Know the rules if a race comes off the turf and that leg becomes an “all” for your wager. There are more tickets discarded on the floor as people didn’t know it was an all in that leg of the wager. – Know the rules before you put pen to paper.

2. – 3’s are lucky. – Try using three runners in each leg. This is a good start for new players or those who are involved in a small group wager. = 3 X 3 X 3 X 3 = $81 for a $1 ticket and $40.50 for a 50-cent version. I have used this version for new players who are looking to keep it around $20 a piece and have a shot. – There are two bettors and they use one of the favorites and each player chooses a horse. This allows for your selection and communication for the lone favorite selected. – Good wager at a reasonable price.

3. – Steven Crist has changed the landscape by using the “A-B-C-X” method. – This involves using your “A” selections with other “A” selections and making a top choice ticket. – I like the multi-ticket wager and using some A’s with a B can allow you to spread out and get coverage. – There are the blockbuster B-C-C-C tickets that can allow for the big time payouts.


For me, I like to reverse handicap. I look at the races and find runners to eliminate. From there I go back and race by race I find my larger investment and a few key runners. It’s important to find a key horse if possible, and if you do your ticket cost drops much lower. – I like to cover two races and take a break. This allows you to stay fresh and not rush into finishing the wager. – If you have ever used or heard of the Crist method, the A-B-C ticket can be great for a larger bankroll. The idea is to have multiple tickets going and there is nothing like cashing a few tickets versus one.

Try and find that key runner. This will be your secondary ticket. – I like a bigger ticket and a smaller price wager to run alongside to protect my wager. This past weekend was a good example of how I used Drefong as a single. It carried me to profit as I hit the pick-four twice. Once with my bigger wager, and another with the smaller singled runner in one leg.

If I’m using small price runners, I like to think 10-15% profit is a good payoff. – I bet $20 and used many small odds runners. If it pays $200, I should feel pretty good. – For my tickets with blockbuster prices and if one scores, I’m looking for 30-40% profit for my ticket. Using a $100 investment, I’m looking for $3,000 or better payoffs. – Now it gets more affordable with 50-cent tickets and that can save you in many ways. The day you hit for $605 and have to fill out a tax form you’ll wonder why you didn’t make two 50-cent tickets. – Beat the taxman and you’ll keep more money in your pocket to make future wagers.

Don’t be afraid to get involved, and if you’re new grab a few folks to make a group wager to keep the cost down. – Nothing like a group celebration over a big score. – Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies!