How to Bet the Double

July 20th, 2018

If you’re just getting started betting on horse races, you might be confused by the multitudes of wagering options available, with many types boasting unusual names that aren’t necessarily self-explanatory.

But never fear—BetAmerica is here to help! We’ll explain the terminology, introduce you to the different types of bets, and provide tips on how to effectively structure your tickets.

What is the Daily Double?

The double, frequently referred to as the “daily double,” is a relatively simple exotic wager requiring you to pick the winners of two consecutive races. It’s common for tracks to offer “rolling doubles,” which means the double bet is available throughout the day and you can play the double on any two consecutive races—a departure from years ago, when the “daily double” was only available on the first two races of the day.

In playing the double, you can include as many horses as you wish in each of the two races, though using lots of horses will diminish your prospective profits. Calculating the cost of a double bet couldn’t be easy—it’s a simple multiplication problem involving the number of horses you include in each race times the base cost of the bet. For example, if you’re playing a $1 double using one horse in each race, the cost is 1x1x1=$1. If you’re using two horses in each leg of a $5 double, the cost is 2x2x5=$20.

Armed with this basic knowledge, let’s examine a few strategies for playing the double. We’ll use the July 21st, 2018 Ontario Colleen Stakes (gr. III) at Woodbine as our example race; the one-mile turf event for three-year-old fillies is the eighth race on the card and is the first leg of a double that ends with ninth race, a seven-furlong allowance optional claiming race for older horses.

In the Ontario Colleen, the Penn Oaks winner #6 Got Stormy appears to be a clear standout, while in the ninth race, the experienced stakes competitors #4 Commute and #8 Puntrooskie, plus the speedy #1 Slip Kid, are among the logical contenders.

The “Cold” Double

Playing a “cold” double means using just one horse in each race. If you pick both winners, you’re going to be rewarded with a maximum return on investment (as well as bragging rights for handicapping the sequence so well!) It also allows you to play the double for a higher base amount, further increasing the potential payoff.

Of course, picking two straight wins is easier said than done. If I were to play a cold double at Woodbine this Saturday, I would side with using Got Stormy and Commute, though the wide-open nature of the ninth race makes it tricky to have much confidence in any one horse.

The ticket:

$10 double: 6 with 4

The Double Wheel

If you have a confident selection in one leg of a double and believe that the other leg could produce a longshot winner, the double wheel can be an expensive but intriguing strategy to employ. A double wheel involves singling a horse in one leg while using “all” in the other leg—in other words, if your single prevails as you expect, then you’re guaranteed a winning ticket since you’ll have used every horse in the other leg.

Of course, if the favorite winds up winning the leg in which you used “all,” or if your single was a very short price, there’s a chance that the payoff could be less than the amount you spent on the ticket, so double wheels should be employed with caution.

If I were to play a double wheel at Woodbine, I would single Got Stormy in the Ontario Colleen and use each of the ten starters in the ninth race:

The ticket:

$1 double: 6 with ALL ($10)

The Double Part-Wheel

This is perhaps the most common and effective way to play the double. Playing a part-wheel involves betting a varying number of horses in each race, depending on your opinions.

Since I think Got Stormy is a standout in the Ontario Colleen and believe the ninth race is a more competitive event with three main contenders, I could play a double part-wheel that precisely reflects this opinion. Furthermore, I can check the chart of probable payoffs for the sequence (widely available prior to the start of the first race) to further refine my wager—for example, if I see that the “Got Stormy with Commute/Slip Kid” doubles are projected to pay half as much as the “Got Stormy with Puntrooskie” double, I could bet twice as much on the lower-paying doubles to balance out the prospective payoffs:

The tickets:

$4 double: 6 with 1,4 ($8) $2 double: 6 with 8 ($2)

The “Contrary” Double

One last strategy I’ll mention is what I like to call the “contrary” double. In sequences where there is a very heavy favorite (such as Got Stormy), it’s typical for the vast majority of bettors to include the heavy favorite on their tickets, sharply depressing the potential payoffs involving the favorite while boosting the payoffs for other logical contenders much higher than they should be.

Thus, if you want to take a contrary approach, you could play against the majority of bettors and try to beat Got Stormy in the Ontario Colleen, perhaps by using the recent stakes winner #7 Peach of a Gal and the former French runner #2 Armoricaine. The ticket might not be as likely to hit as the tickets using Got Stormy, but if Peach of a Gal or Armoricaine do upset the race, the payoff should be significant:

$2 double: 2,7 with 1,4,8 ($12)

Be sure to give the double a try this weekend!