What Is First Four Betting? Can You Pick The First Four Past The Post?

Last updated & tested: 2019-07-19

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Get to know first four betting


First four betting has been popular in Australian horse racing for a while and exported to other English speaking countries. While it’s a fairly straightforward piece of betting terminology, it’s good to have first four explained to you if you’re a newbie punter or not heard of it before.


This is a type of bet where you make four selections in the same race and say that horses will finish in a specified order of first to fourth. It differs from a flexi first four in that you must get the finishing order spot on. A flexible version of the bet is available, where you back the four selections to finish in any order and will win provided they all come in the first four.


You can even go beyond a flexi first four and add more than four selections via a box first four, so even more bases are covered. It’s at that point when first four betting really does become complicated, so before discussing that let’s look at the permutations of a flexi or regular wager of this type.


With an ordinary first four bet, you are wagering on a single outcome from the permutations listed below. With a flexi first four, however, you have more scenarios covered with the selections finishing in any order, so check what odds are available for this. You’re backing four horses; A, B, C and D, so this is what’s covered when making a flexible bet: ABCD, ABDC, ACBD, ACDB, ADBC, ADCB, BACD, BADC, BCDA, BCAD, BDAC, BDCA, CABD, CADB, CBAD, CBDA, CDAB, CDBA, DABC, DACB, DBAC, DBCA, DCBA, DCAB.


That leaves you with 24 different outcomes covered in first four betting when making it flexible. While that sounds like a positive, just think on this – only one of those scenarios could play out so you have to know who the best racehorses are. You will be losing on all but one of the outcomes, and it’ll be very hard to turn a profit from that, though it of course depends on the prices of the horses offered by bookmakers.


Now you’ve had that type of first four explained, let’s delve even deeper. A box first four allows you to cover even more scenarios may adding more than four selections. The permutations become more complex still, though, and you are guaranteed to lose on one of the selections even if it finishes fifth behind the other four you picked. This is because no extra is offered for places outside the first four betting.


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You’ve got to have a real handle on a race to even consider placing such a wager. The potential returns off a straight first four bet are potentially massive because of the degree of difficulty. Really fancying certain runners and believing they can finish in a certain order is required. There’s no shortcuts with first four betting; you’ve got to know the form or firmly believe the assessor’s ratings are spot on. All of which shows why an each-way bet might be a simpler option.


Unless you have this strong view, then this type of wager and certainly a box first four containing even more selections is best avoided. It only takes one horse to disappoint and that entire bet goes down. Mitigating risks comes at curtailing your profits – perhaps completely and you may even operate at a loss from a box first four or flexi first four. That’s not a smart way to bet, yet like all types of wager this one has its uses.


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