The Rainbow 6, or jackpot Pick 6, is a special version of the Pick 6, a bet that involves picking the winner of six consecutive races, which requires one unique winner for the entire pool to be paid out. This means that if you and another person each pick all six winners, neither of you win the entire pool. Instead, some of the pool is ‘carried over’ to the next day of racing, where it will be added to that day’s Rainbow 6 pool, and some is paid out to those who have correctly picked all six winners. The carryover is not paid out until there is a lone winner, or until a ‘mandatory payout’ day, which typically occurs at the end of the meet when there are no more days of racing to follow.
On regular days (i.e. there is no mandatory payout of the pool), the strategy to playing the bet is to play a single ticket that skews toward longshots but doesn’t neglect horses that can obviously win. A good blend of formidable favorites and more improbable horses is key because in order to win you must be carrying the only winning ticket, which means you’ll need to have horses others don’t, but you also need to have all six winners, so forgoing all logical contenders in favor of ridiculous bombs is not a sound strategy. After all, you have to be right in order to cash.
On mandatory payout days, the strategy to playing it leans more to the Pick 5 than to the traditional Pick 6 because of the 20 cent base. The very low minimum means you can play many different combinations and even press certain combinations you feel strongly about for more than the base wager. As always, look for value but don’t neglect horses that can obviously win just because everyone will have them on their ticket. The massive carryovers that build up do a lot of the heavy lifting as far as producing big payoffs, so just put yourself in the best position to have all six winners on your ticket and don’t feel you have to force longshots into your play.
Why play it?
That’s a good question. If the Pick 5 is regarded as the best bet in racing, the Rainbow 6 is unquestionably the worst. Because of its usurious takeout and extreme difficulty, the optimal approach is to abstain from playing it until there is a mandatory payout. On these days, the Rainbow 6 actually becomes an incredibly enticing proposition, as it carries massive upside and is relatively inexpensive to play. Before that happens, however, it’s best to let others seed the pool, unless you really like a bunch of long-shots that could potentially trigger a jackpot payout.