Introduction to the Quaddie
The quadrella (or “quaddie” or “quad”) is a market where you need to pick four winners in a row at the races. The quaddie is like racing’s tattslotto. Punters buy their once-a-week ticket in the hope of a big collect. However, there’s a lot of maths involved to play the quaddie well and make a profit.
When we play the quaddie, we play multiple combinations at the same time, but every combination has its own price or chance of winning. For example, the favourite combination (where all the favourites win), might be $3 x $3 x $3 x $3 = $81 for the win. That equates to a 1/81 = 1.2% chance of winning.
The key with understanding the quaddie is that it involves the same mathematics as a single race with thousands of runners. The “race” is four legs of the quaddie (as a whole) and the “runners” are the individual combinations.
Boxing is Flat Staking
Boxing your exotics is the most common and easiest – but poorest – way to play an exotic like the quaddie. The problem is that you’re outlaying the same amount on the favourite combination (e.g. 20-1) as you are on the roughest combination (e.g. 1,000,000-1). That is flat staking.
Flat staking is a poor approach because it increases volatility.
We sensibly stake more on favourites and less on roughies when we bet (you might back $100 on a favourite but $5 on a roughie); this is called proportional staking. That ensures we avoid costly losing runs on roughies, and achieve decent collects on the favourites who win more often.
We should take the same approach to exotics.
Know Your Strike Rate
One of the frustrating aspects of the quaddie is how long it takes to snag a decent one. There are several reasons why this happens.
When we do get one up, it tends to be a low return because favourite combinations win more often than rough combinations, and because we’ve boxed it, we’ve outlaid less on that combination than we really wanted.
We also don’t bet quaddies that often. One quaddie per Saturday is just 52 bets per year. Even one quad every day is 360-odd bets per year, which is not many. The small number of bets over a long period of time means that losing runs can last months!
Another factor is low strike rate. It feels like our quaddies should win more often than they do given we take multiple horses per race. However the percentages are harsher than they appear. For example, if we had a 50% chance of the winner in each leg, that equates to 50% x 50% x 50% x 50% = 6.25% = 1/16 chance. Playing the Saturday quaddie, that’s one winner every 4 months!
It’s a useful exercise to calculate your quaddie’s expected strike rate to know how long you may need to wait (on average) to get a winner:
- Enter your rated prices (or use the market prices) for every horse in each leg
- Calculate 1/Price for every price
- Add up the 1/Price figures to determine the market %
- Multiply each price x market % to produce the fair market price
- Calculate the chance of each horse based on the fair market price (1/Fair Market Price) – the sum of these chances should equal 100%
- Add up the chances of all your selections in that leg – that is the chance you’ll win that leg
- Multiply your chances in each leg together – that is the chance you’ll win the quaddie
What Is My Price?
One problem with exotics is they are parimuteuls and your price depends on how much other people in the market have bet on your combination. Unlike the standard win and place markets, the price on each combo is also not stated when we bet, otherwise there would be thousands of prices on the screen.
In other words, we never know the price when we bet on an exotic, which means we could be taking a bad price and not know it, or be getting a better price on a different tote.
Some bookies offer “mid tote” on exotics. You can also split your bet three ways amongst the three totes to ensure you receive the average of the three dividends.
It’s important to understand with the quaddie (and all exotics) that while the dividend of the winning combination may be in the thousands, the actual dividend you receive on the hundreds of combinations you’ve bet is much less.
A great quaddie dividend might be $20,000, which is the number everyone talks about, but no one outlays $1 and plays one combination. The actual price you receive when you play multiple combinations and flexi-bet them is much lower. You use the same formula to calculate the price on your quaddie as you would on a standard win bet:
Price = Return / Outlay
Given we don’t know dividends until the last leg (using approximates), this calculation can only be performed just before the last leg or once the quaddie is finished.
Totes love promoting large pool sizes.
Pool sizes like a “guaranteed $1 million” sound fantastic but make little difference to the return when an equivalent number of winning tickets are purchased, or the pool size would have been similar in any case. For example, a 10-fold increase in pool size implies there will be 10 times as many winning tickets (or 10 times the volume on the winning combination) and the actual return will be the same:
$100,000 pool / 100 winning tickets = $1000 collect
$1 million pool / 1000 winning tickets = $1000 collect
There are jackpot situations where previous pools are carried over to the current pool and these can create extra value. However, any “guaranteed pool” is more a marketing ploy than anything else.
Why Exotics Are Good
I’ve covered why the quaddie and exotics are bad. Now it’s time for the good news! Exotics do provide some advantages.
Firstly, exotics provide another market to make a profit on your edge on top of the standard win market.
Multi-race exotics (e.g. Running Double, Daily Double, Treble, Quadrella, Big 6) also take out the market percentage once from the pool and provide a much fairer return to punters. The market percentage for the quaddie is around 125% (20% takeout or 80% return to the punter is the same as 125% market percentage). While 125% is nothing to write home about, any multi-race exotic is considerably better than an all-up bet involving the same numbers of legs. The market percentage on a four-leg all-up bet, for example, can be well over 200%.
Single-race exotics (e.g. Exactas, Quinellas, Trifectas, First Fours) provide an opportunity to profit when you have an opinion on multiple horses in the race, whether that be rated prices or the position runners will finish.
Exotics are complicated, highly mathematical markets that can also provide an edge to numbers-based punters exploiting mathematical-based inefficiencies in the market (rather than any form edge).
Play Exotics Like A Pro
So how should you play the quaddie? The most professional way to play exotics is to play them as single combinations. For example, in the quaddie, you would:
- Rate your runners in each of the 4 legs (making sure the market percentage on each leg is the same/similar)
- Calculate the price of each combination (combination price = rated price 1 x rated price 2 x rated price 3 x rated price 4) and do that for every combination
- Choose a set amount to return (e.g. $500) and outlay however much is required on each combination to return that amount (i.e. stake your bets in proportion to one another).
Flexi-bets provide a helpful way to outlay less than the $0.50c minimum bet per ticket and reduce your overall outlay on the race. Excel makes the job easier by performing the calculations. However, the above process involves a bit of work, tricky mathematics, and can still become prohibitively expensive.
There are lots of methods around that improve the efficiency of exotics using multiple tickets and these are worth exploring. While they are not as efficient as betting single combinations, they are much better than boxing the lot, and provide a practical way to improve your proportional outlay on exotics.
The High Lows play multis on a semi-regular basis and we’ve done very well on them. It depends on the promotion in question, the available options and how you play them but multi promotions such as Money Back or Bonus Bet when one leg loses can provide a nice long-term profit. I can’t say much more than that to protect our value, so if you’d like to find out more, you’ll have to sign up.
It’s easy to get excited about large dividends when we play multis and exotics but it’s important to remember multis and exotics are just another bet. Just like regular bets, you need an edge, and it’s always worth asking yourself whether boxing your selections or combining them in a multi is really the best option. Unless you’re playing exotics as single combinations or multis on a promotion, you’re almost always better off splitting your bets into single races or match bets.