11/04/2017 1:21PM

Giwner: Evaluating the new Pick 10 Survivor wager at The Meadowlands


Something new is coming to Harness Racing this weekend. The Meadowlands is launching an innovative wager called the Pick 10 Survivor. Is this daily Jackpot-type wager for you?

The bet at first glance requires handicappers to select the winner of each of the first 10 races to claim a share of the total pool (amount wager minus 15% takeout). The key twist here is that you don’t necessarily need to pick 10 winners to take home the jackpot. You simply need to “survive” by selecting the winner from race to race until you are the last person standing with a live ticket. It is a similar to handicapping contests offered by some companies, though in those instances the investment is fixed for all.

In theory a player could use all of the horses in leg one and if no other handicappers took that stance, and the longest-priced horse in the race won, you could take down the entire pool, which will be guaranteed at $10,000 on opening night (November 4). Of course it is unlikely that you’ll win in the first leg, but technically it is possible.

If multiple players remain “alive” after all 10 races, the pool is split among the remaining players.

The real question is whether the Pick 10 Survivor makes sense for all bettors. There are definite plusses and minuses for those looking to dip their feet in the water. Let’s look at a couple for each:


Chance to make a big score – Each night players will have the opportunity to hit it big. On opening night there is the possibility that one player could walk away $8,500 richer if the pool never even reaches $10,000.

Handicappers have an edge – While it is obviously difficult for anyone to pick 10 winners on a card, those with sharper handicapping skills and a decent bankroll should have an edge due to the number of races in the wager.


Fish get swallowed up – Smaller bettors are at a distinct disadvantage against high rollers who can cover many more combinations. In pick 3/4/5 wagers, smaller players can keep pace with larger ones because there are fewer combinations. In the Pick 10 this is not possible.

Less churn available – Since the wager essentially is designed to reward one bettor per night (though it could be more), nearly everyone who places their money in the pool will come out a loser, thus leaving them with less money to play the remainder of the races.

The big question is whether tracks have a public or financial responsibility to protect players from themselves. Basically, should a track only offer lower difficulty wagers so poorly funded or bad handicappers can win more often and continue to churn money through the windows for a longer period of time?

I’m of the opinion that people deserve the right to spend their money however they please. Why should we have the right to tell someone that they shouldn’t play Mega Millions even though they have a better chance of being hit by lightning than winning the jackpot? It’s actually quite interesting that you have a 1 in 700,000 chance of a lightning strike but only a 1 in 258 million chance of winning a Mega Millions jackpot according to Wikipedia.

Anyway, back to the Pick 10 Survivor, which is a .20 wager and happens to include four Kindergarten Finals for 2-year-olds this Saturday at The Meadowlands. How should we attack this wager? Do we go deep in the early legs in the hope that others will get eliminated? Do we play a steady stream of 1-3 horses in each leg?

Speaking from the standpoint of someone who may play a ticket in the $50 to $100 range at most, I see the best strategy as one in which you take a stand early in the wager and spread as you reach the middle to end of the ticket. In addition, I would limit my exposure to this bet to when I had a strong opinion on at least the early races. Finally, if I’m not able to identify at least three horses I want to single, the bet is a no-play.

A theoretical sample ticket for me would be something like: X / X / X,X / X / X,X / X / X,X / X,X,X / X,X,X / X,X,X,X,X = $72.

Admittedly this is not a wager I’ll contribute to on a daily basis. That said, when one of those cards where three to five heavy favorites which look like locks are involved in the 10 races, I could see myself rolling the dice. I want to be involved only in the instances where I feel confident that my funds are large enough to provide me with a reasonable chance of winning.

Whether the Pick 10 Survivor, a wager I first recall creator Eric Cherry mentioning to me a couple of years back, proves successful remains to be seen. If it grabs the attention of a vast majority of players, maybe it can gain enough traction to be a mainstay at The Meadowlands. At least track management is trying something new and taking a gamble by guaranteeing the wager. It sure beats the norm of repeating the same losing formula which tends to plague the sport at times.