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Payouts and Pools: A Model of Inconsistency

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Anybody that has read this site for any length of time knows I like analyze results charts for payouts, pools, fractions and whatever else I find interesting.  Chart analysis has been sort of a hobby of mine for quite some times now and during that time I am continually amazed at the amount of inconsistency from track to track in the manner payouts and pools are reported.  The Equibase Company has the responsibility of compiling all of the results data from daily track operations but they don't set any standards as to how to display that information.   For the most part, how the tracks report their results is how Equibase presents the information within the charts. 

I would love to see a couple of changes to the way that payouts are reported by the tracks and displayed on the results charts:

1. All payouts shown to the lowest minimum wager.  

This is, in my opinion, the most blatant error that the tracks are making when reporting their payouts.  If you offer a $0.10 Superfecta, the payout should be to $0.10, not $1.  Same with the Pick 3 or Pick 4 or whatever other bet we're talking about.  Reporting the payout to the minimum is the only way to accurately represent the payout. 

Below is an example from a late Pick 4 payout at Portland Meadows and a good example of why the payout should be to the minimum base bet.  The payouts below appeared on the race chart for December 1st, 2010 (Chart via Brisnet.com):

$2 Late Pick 4: $14,536.00
Pick 4 Pool: $8,458

Portland Meadows offers a $0.50 Pick 4 but they display the payout as a $2 bet, which essentially inflates the perceived "payout".  It's flat out inaccurate to say the Pick 4 paid $14,000 on this day when that is mathematically impossible. 

If you recomputed the payout to a $0.50 wager the resulting amount is $3,634, indicating that there were two correct tickets for the sequence. 

It's easy to see why tracks report their payouts at a higher-than-minimum level - it makes the payouts "look" larger than they really are.  But in order to maintain consistency from track to track, payouts should be all represent the minimum base wager.

2. Breakdown pools between new and carryover dollars.

I've never really noticed this before because I usually don't pay a whole lot of attention to Pick 6s, but while following the new Rainbow Pick 6 at Gulfstream Park it's become apparent that the pool on the chart does not include any dollars carried over from the previous card.  Below are the Pick Six payouts from Sunday's card at Gulfstream:

$0.10 Pick 6 Jackpot: 6 correct $413.20
Pick 6 Jackpot Pool: 49,929
Carryover Pool: $182,063

The carryover from the chart is the amount that is carrying over to Wednesday.   Obviously, the $49,929 was new money since it's less than the carryover amount.  In order to determine what the total pool was for Sunday you'd have to go to Saturday's chart and find that $166,086 carried over to Sunday, making Sunday's true total pool $216,015.  Or at least that's the best I can come up with...and it shouldn't take that much work to figure out the total pool.

Either display the total pool (both new dollars and previous carryover) or display each separately, otherwise the information in incomplete.


Neither of these issues are critical to the success of horse racing but they represent the somewhat maddeningly "consistently inconsistent" nature of the sport.  Most of that is due to the fact that tracks/states are independent from one another and set their own rules and regulations.  But at the same time, shouldn't we be able to come up with uniform and clear ways in which to report payouts and pools?