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Gulfstream Park Pick 4 and Pick 5 Payouts

At the start of the 2011 Gulfstream Park meet, the track introduced $0.50 Pick 4s (both early and late), along with a new $0.50 Pick 5 in place of the old, discontinued Pick 6.  I've been tracking the payouts and pools from these bets from early January in order to compare the bets on a meet long basis*.  The three table below provide a snap shot of each of those bets after thirty-eight days of racing at the current Gulfstream meet. (January 5th to February 24th).

*I also tracked the Rainbow 6 data for a while, but it was so inconsistently reported in the charts in terms of pools and carryovers that I just gave up.  Note to Equibase and track officials - please report data consistently.

Early $0.50 Pick 4  Leg 1 Leg 2 Leg 3 Leg 4  Payout Total Pool
Average 5.31 5.89 4.35 6.76 $1,054 $86,018
Median 4.00 3.20 2.50 4.50 $559 $80,809
High 20.50 39.00 15.40 33.80 $9,904 $152,613
Low 0.70 0.60 1.00 0.30 $22 $49,010

The Early Pick 4 has brought in about half the total pool of it's late card brother and, correspondingly, has produced average and median payouts roughly half as large.  The Early Pick 4 has certainly been a bit more chalky that the later version, with the median odds for each leg maxing out at 9/2 as opposed to the max median of 6/1 on the Late Pick 4, but there has still been opportunists to bring home a decent return on occasion, especially if you're able to keep ticket costs under control.

Late $0.50 Pick 4   Leg 1 Leg 2 Leg 3 Leg 4 Payout Total Pool
Average 7.58 10.15 6.08 6.89 $2,422 $162,989
Median 4.50 6.20 4.05 4.10 $1,141 $141,088
High 35.70 73.30 27.30 59.00 $24,479 $388,689
Low 0.50 1.10 0.50 0.60 $55 $62,541

A $0.50 Pick 4 with a median payout of over $1,100?  Even if you're putting $100 into the play you're generally getting pretty good results on the back end.  The new $0.50 Pick Five has received most of the attention at Gulfstream, but the Late Pick 4 is still taking in a good amount of cash and paying out well to those fortunate enough to run the table. 

There's been a lot of talk about takeout within the industry over the past couple of months and how much of an impact the pari-mutuel tax has on handle and betting decisions.  And while there is no doubt that the effect on churn and overall handle is real, the impact on betting choices of players is a bit less clear cut. 

Gulfstream's Pick 4 has a take of 20%, while the take on the Pick 5 is 15% - a significant difference.  Yet, despite this huge gap in take between the two bets, the Late Pick 4 has out handled the Pick 5 in both average ($20k more) and median (over $50k more) throughout the meet.  Part of that is likely due to the added difficulty in hitting the Pick 5 as compared to the Pick 4, as well as the additional cost that the Pick 5 usually entails - which is really the whole point: people make decisions on which tracks and bets to play on a multitude of factors and the take is just one of those.  If the majority of players made decisions based solely on the pari-mutuel tax, we wouldn't see the Gulfstream Late Pick 4 out-handling the Pick 5 on a daily basis.  But that's exactly what has taken place during this meet.

Discussions about take and betting choices aside, the Gulfstream Pick 5 has been a really great bet this meet, in my opinion, and I am surprised that it isn't handling as much as the Late Pick 4.  Check out the chart below which illustrates solid average and median payouts across the board.  Again, we're talking a $0.50 base bet with a median payout of almost $5,000 - that's really nice. 

To hit the Pick 5, you're generally going to have to find one or two races in the sequence where you either a) love a long priced horse, or b) can spread enough to ensure you don't miss out on the price horse that is almost guaranteed to come in.  If you check out the Gulfstream Payouts file (Gulfstream Park Payouts 2011), I've highlighted in yellow all of the $20 horses in the Pick 5 this meet.  As of February 24th, only 13 of the 38 Pick 5s saw an entire sequence go by without at least one horse winning at odds of 10/1 or greater.  Ten times there have been more than one 10/1 winner.

$0.50 Pick 5  Leg 1 Leg 2 Leg 3 Leg 4 Leg 5 Payout Total Pool
Average 7.55 7.61 10.15 6.08 6.89 $9,082 $142,300
Median 4.60 4.50 6.20 4.05 4.10 $4,957 $88,501
High 70.70 35.70 73.30 27.30 59.00 $69,853 $971,972
Low 0.30 0.50 1.10 0.50 0.60 $190.25* $53,381


*The Low Pick 5 payout is the lowest non-carryover (non-consolation) amount.