Pick 4 Bet in Horse Racing – Understanding the Basics

pick 4 bet

7 minutes

Last Updated: February 22, 2023

If you have been involved with betting on horse racing, you might have heard the term pick 4 bet and wondered what is a pick 4 in horse racing?

In this article we are going to break down everything you need to know about the pick 4 bet.

The pick 4 bet allows horse racing punters to bet on winners of four consecutive races with one bet.

What is a Pick 4 Bet in Horse Racing?

In horse racing, the pick 4 bet allows punters to place one bet that covers the winners of four consecutive horse races.

For the pick 4 bet to win, the bettors must correctly predict winners of all four consecutive races. If they fail to predict even one winner, their bet loses.

Essentially, this bet is a variation of the win bet, the only difference between these two is that the win bet predicts only the winner of one race, while the pick 4 bet is a combination of four win bets on one ticket.

Thanks to the fact that it allows bettors to save some time and increase their odds by betting on four races at the same time, the pick 4 bet is extremely popular with amateur bettors who are looking to make a big score.

What Are the Odds for the Pick 4 Bet in Horse Racing?

As we mentioned earlier, the pick 4 bet is essentially an accumulator consisting of four win bets. This means that the odds for this bet type will be a lot higher than for the individual win bet.

The odds for each individual pick 4 bet will depend on the selections that you made as well as the bookmaker you are using, and in most cases, the payouts should be pretty enticing.

what is a pick 4 in horse racing

Even if you place a bet on four favorites, you can expect the potential returns to be around a dozen times the stake, but once again, this is just an estimate.

The main thing that you want to look for when placing a pick 4 bet is an online betting site with good odds, as this will have a big impact on your bottom line.

What Is the Minimum Stake for The Pick 4 Bet in Horse Racing?

Nowadays, most online horse betting platforms have pretty low limits for the pick 4 bet and you can expect this betting option to be available for as low as $.50.

This makes it a great option for horse bettors that are tight on budget.

So, if you are looking for an online bookmaker to bet on, make sure that you check their limits for specific bets, before you make an account and deposit funds.

What Is The Maximum Win for a Pick 4 Bet in Horse Racing?

In theory, the winnings for each individual pick 4 bet are based on the betting odds for the individual races and the stake, which means that there shouldn’t be a limit on maximum winnings.

However, in practice, things are a little bit different since a lot of online betting sites have a cap on max winnings and max payouts.

pick 4 horse racing payouts

These limits will depend on the site, so the best thing to do is check the rules about the maximum winnings in the terms and conditions of the site.

With this said, for bettors that are betting in a pari-mutuel system, the determining factor for the maximum winnings of a pick 4 bet is the size of the betting pool. The bigger the pool, the higher the limit.

Pick 4 Horse Betting Strategy

There are numerous horse betting strategies, however, when it comes to the pick 4 bet, there is one strategy that is quite popular with amateur bettors and from time to time even for seasoned punters who are looking to have some fun.

Pick 4 Tic Tac Toe Betting Method

While doing the additional research for this article, we stumbled upon some quite interesting betting strategies for the pick 4 bet. However, none of them seemed as fun as the tick tac toe method.

To apply the tic tac toe method, after making picks for the winners of four races, the bettor needs to draw a box similar to that used in the tic tac toe game (hence the name).

Then he writes down the numbers of the selected horses from left to right in a diagonal direction. After this they need to fill the remaining blank fields by counting up from right to left in the outer fields starting with the field that is above the last number you wrote down.

After he fills the outer fields, the bettor then proceeds to fill in the inner field following the same method.

Here is an example of how your box should look like if you select horses 2, 3, 6, and 9.

2 4 3 2
5 3 0 1
6 1 6 0
7 8 9 9

Note: Number 10 is written down as 0.

When the box is all filled up with numbers, the punter can proceed to use the tic tac toe method to select his picks for the pick 4 wager. How he chooses to proceed with this method is up to him, but here are some of the methods that punters often use:

Drawing a straight line, for example:

  • 2, 5, 6, 7
  • 2, 1, 0, 9
  • 7, 8, 9, 9

The Mirror Box

Some of the other popular tic tac toe methods include using the mirror box or the flip box. Punters can create the mirror box by adding 5 to each of the numbers from the box:

7 9 8 7
0 8 5 6
1 6 1 5
2 3 4 4

And to create the mirror box, they need to add 3 to each of the numbers in the box:

5 7 6 5
8 6 3 4
9 4 9 3
0 1 2 2

After they create the flop box or the mirror box, punters proceed to use the same methods as in the example for the base box,

While this method looks fun, please be aware that it will not increase your chances of picking winners, as it only offers punters a more interesting way of choosing horses they will bet on.

Top Horse Betting Strategies

Now that we have gone through everything that you need to know about the pick 4 bet in horse racing, it is time to take a look at some of the best horse betting strategies that you can add to your game.

Travel Distance

Researching how much a horse travels before a race is one of the main methods experienced horse betting experts use to increase their chances of picking winners.

When doing your research, you will often come across horses that have traveled long distances to participate in a specific race.

Moving a horse across the country is an expensive venture, so if you think about it, the only reason why an owner would invest his time and money into it is if he is certain that his horse has a chance to win.

If you are just a beginner learning how to bet on sports, we recommend that you mark these horses and then wait to see if the public money will confirm your suspicions. After the public starts pouring money on the horse, you can place your bet.

pick 4 horse racing

The best place to follow the public money is betting exchanges since traditional bookmakers are known to change the prices without taking in a lot of bets on a horse.

Apply this method until you become confident in your research skill, after which you can start placing bets without having to wait for the public money.


After you spend some time betting on horses, you will see that it is much more difficult to predict winners than you think.

This is because there are numerous variables such as the horse, the jockey, the weather, etc. as well as numerous betting options.

To avoid getting lost and dividing your attention across multiple betting options, we recommend that in the beginning, you specialize for either a specific type of race or a specific part of the race and look for your picks there.

Although it might not be necessary, after you get the hang of it, you can start expanding your base of betting options.

This approach will allow you to develop good fundamentals, something that a lot of horse bettors lack, as they rush to place bets on random races, and betting options without having a proper plan.

Final Thoughts on the Pick 4 Bet in Horse Racing

Pick 4 bet is a quite popular bet in horse racing since it allows bettors to combine simple bet types like the win bet with the opportunity to win a substantial amount of money.

Because of this, the best is popular with both amateur and professional horse bettors.

However, if you are just starting with horse racing, we would recommend that you first try out some of the more straightforward bet types such as the to win bet or the to place bet before diving into more complex betting types.

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