13 Mistakes Horseplayers Need to Avoid in the New Year.

steps to success for horseplayersby Rich Nilsen

With nearly any problem in life, the first road to recovery is admitting your mistakes. As horseplayers we all make blunders and some of us continue to commit the same handicapping mistakes on an all-too frequent basis. In fact, I dare say that if we had a dollar for every mistake we made this past year, we would have enough funds to go after one of those big Southern California Pick-6 carryovers.

It is never too late to learn from the errors we made over the past year (or past week, for that matter) and make corrections for future attempts at the parimutuel windows. In fact, this decision to learn from experience is vital to our long-term success as horseplayers.

“Horse racing will teach a person to lose better than any other sport.” ~ My Father

Wise words, indeed. Anyone who has played the horses long enough understands that this game can be like a roller coaster ride. Your emotions can be riding sky high one moment and, less than 25 minutes later, plummeted to rock bottom.

Successful horseplayers are able to ride out the low times in order to reach the peak moments. Winning players also recognize their faults and consequently make fewer mistakes than their competition, their fellow horseplayer.

If you’re not pleased with the results you had in this past year, then check off the following mistakes that you made this past year and feel free to add your own in the comments below. Put a star next to the areas that you really need to improve on.

1-      You lack conviction in your wagers.

2-      Instead of selecting prime wagering opportunities or spot plays, you are betting nearly every race you handicap or every race on the card.

3-      You are using the same information to handicap that the majority of the general public utilizes. If the only thing you are using to handicap is the track program, it is not going to be easy to out-handicap the thousands of others who are using the same program.  Unique information can include your personal trip notes, bias notes, or premium information such as clocker’s reports.

4-      You are easily swayed by other peoples’ opinions. What you hear on TVG or Fox Sports, for example, influences how you will wager on the upcoming race.  Or, you let your neighbor at the track, who can’t remember the last winning day he had, make a comment that influences your decision making on the upcoming race.  We’ve all done it.

5-      You know that you are selecting a high or respectable percentage of winners, but your wagering strategies have caused you to lose money on days when you should have won based on your handicapping.  For example, you ‘gimmick’ a horse away, missing the exacta on a horse you loved that paid $12.60 to win.

6-      You concentrate most of your wagers on low-percentage wagers, e.g. trifectas, superfectas, Pick-4s, Pick-6s, etc.

7-      You look for the quick fix, such as a hot tip from an insider or some mail order ‘winning’ system that promises ridiculous win percentages or ROIs.

8-      You pay no attention to how the track is playing, ignoring any potential track biases at work.   Because of this oversight, you are betting closers on a day when early speed is dominating.  Or, you are wagering on running styles that rarely win because you are not aware or don’t incorporate the predominant bias at the track and distance.

9-      You wager with scared money, having not set aside a bankroll strictly for horse racing investments.

10-    You blame a losing outcome on ‘shenanigans,’ instead of searching for the clues that pointed to the rightful winner.

11-  You shoot from the hip, wagering on a race that you didn’t handicapping effectively and/or which you don’t have a good opinion.

12-  You’re not playing with a rebate.  If you are making your wagers at a location in which you are not receiving cash back on your wagers, you’re throwing money away.  This is true even if you are a small player.

13-  Last but not least, you lack a plan or strategy for wagering. It is commonplace for you to get online with only a few minutes to post without knowing what wagers you plan to make.

If you’ve been playing the horses long enough, then chances are you have committed all of the mistakes listed above. Hopefully, you are at a point where you have only committed a few on this list within the past year. The difference between the everyday handicapper and the successful horseplayer is who continues to make the same mistakes and who does not.

Action Steps to Overcome the Mistakes

Sit back and ponder which mistakes you have committed and which have really cost you on the bottom line. Consider what steps you need to take in order to avoid these same mistakes in the New Year.

If you believe that your handicapping is above average, then look at your wagering strategies. Are you swinging for the fences every time, trying to nail the trifecta, instead of cashing a nice win wager or exacta play? Knock your bets down a level. If Pick-3 wagers have been unsuccessful, then concentrate on the Daily Double instead. The inevitable result is that you will cash more tickets and boost your confidence.

Make a horseplayer’s resolution for the New Year. Correct the mistakes you’ve been making and avoid these pitfalls this season. By doing so, you’ll immediately gain an edge over the wagering public. When you minimize the number of mistakes you make on a daily or weekly basis, your confidence will soar and you’ll be winning more often. Isn’t that a resolution worth keeping in the new yaer?

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with Brisnet.com and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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