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Book Review

Exotic Betting: How to Make the Multihorse, Multirace Bets That Win Racing's Biggest Payoffs
by Steven Crist
DRF Press, June 2006, 208 pages paperback

For years, betting at the track meant one of just three choices: win, place, or show. Payoffs in these pools were (and still are) small, and turning a profit in the straight pools became increasingly difficult as bettors became sharper and the winning odds began to plummet. The advent of the daily double many years ago ushered racing into a new era, the era of the exotic wager. Bettors nowadays can still bet on the straights, but now 2/3 of the continent's $15 million annual mutuel handle is bet on the various exotics such as the daily double, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, pick three, pick four, and pick six. In his new book Exotic Betting: How to Make the Multihorse, Multirace Bets That Win Racing's Biggest Payoffs, Daily Racing Form publisher Steven Crist sets out to instruct contemporary bettors on how to properly attack these high-risk, high-reward wagering pools.

Obviously, a novice bettor who cannot turn a profit in the straight pools has no business betting into exotic pools against well-bankrolled professionals. This is not a handicapping book. Instead, Crist assumes some proficiency in horse selection and takes the time to demonstrate how someone who has shown success in the straight pools can utilize those skills to maximize profits in the exotic pools. The exotics are subdivided into two groups, the Intrarace bets such as the exacta, trifecta, and superfecta and the Multirace bets which comprise the daily double and all the "pick" bets. He explains that players should specialize in one or the other, based on how he or she already plays the horses. One that studies entire cards ahead of time and is good at picking winners should be playing the rolling pick threes, while those who like to do their final handicapping between races should focus on intrarace bets.

Using simple-to-understand mathematics, Crist shows the reader that exotic wagering involves a lot more work that simply "boxing" trifectas or "part wheeling" too many horses in each leg of the pick 3. Understanding that readers will have varying amounts of bankroll and levels of risk, Crist shows how his strategies can be tailored to your individual needs. A weekend player looking for an occasional big hit can have a reasonable shot with a modest investment, while a professional will bet a lot more but should experience steady profits over time, if the handicapping skill is there.

However, when profits are made Uncle Sam comes calling. Crist spends a chapter to clarify the confusing and in some cases, unfair tax laws that affect horseplayers. He shows that exotic bets should be made in minimum units ($1 or in some cases 10 cents) to avoid the automatic 25% withholding when a $5000 payout is realized. But inevitably, bettors who focus their betting on exotics will hit a "signer", having part of their winnings withheld unless a refund is claimed at the end of the year, with detailed recordkeeping required to prove losses. Closing out the book, Crist uses last year's Breeders' Cup as the most extreme example of the unfairness of the IRS. He placed almost $10,000 in wagers for the 8-race series, which resulted in over $12,000 in payouts, a $2000 profit. Because of withholding on his $1 hit of the late pick four, he walked away from Belmont Park with just $24 more than he arrived with.

Crist's reputation as the "King of the Pick Six" is well-deserved, and he shares with us his skill in that bet and others in this work. It is an excellent study of the mathematics behind these new weapons in the parimutuel wars, giving the reader an edge at the betting windows. Strongly recommended for all horseplayers, especially those who have survived the straight pools and are looking to "graduate" to the exotic pools on a full time basis, hoping to realize the jackpots that result when longshots come in. Novices to the racing game will need to sharpen their handicapping skills before attempting the techniques in this book.

Exotic Betting has a list price of $24.95 and is available for $15.72 from

Rating:     4/5

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