Overcoming Yourself

A Plan for a Day at the Horse Races

by Rich Nilsen

You’ve arrived at the feature race, and you’re down $180 for the day. Mentally, you are frustrated from having played every race on the card, losing two costly photo finishes, and having wagered on a “too good to be true” favorite who still hasn’t finished. You’ve narrowed the feature race down to two solid horses, but lack of conviction and failure to have a positive mindset is playing havoc on your decision making.

Lookin’ Good is the favorite at 2-to-1, and Darkened Form is an enticing wager at 6-to-1. In a moment of indecision, you glance at the past performances again in hopes of finally separating the two selections. Noticing the company line from three races back, you see that Lookin’ Good defeated Darkened Form by five widening lengths. You quickly scan your eyes to the closest monitor to see that there’s only two minutes to post, meanwhile, failing to notice that Darkened Form fell on his face at the start of that particular race. The rushed decision is finalized. Your remaining $20 is played as $10 to win on Lookin’ Good and a $10 straight exacta Lookin’ Good over Darkened Form.

horses racingYou return to your seat with zero minutes to post, grasping the tickets in your hands and praying for your luck to turn around. Darkened Form breaks to a clean lead as Lookin’ Good gets shuffled back into fifth. Your second selection continues on an uncontested lead while Lookin’ Good begins to weave his way through traffic. The favorite gets stopped behind a wall of horses as Darkened Form leads the field to the top of the stretch. You realized that your worst nightmare is coming true, as the 6-1 shot opens an insurmountable lead past the eighth pole. The favorite finally gets clear and closes with a tremendous rush. The rally falls a length short of Darkened Form, who scores at juicy dds.

You wanted to stay for the last race on the card, but you’re tapped out. On your way out, you see from the monitors that Darkened Form returned $15.40 to win and the “reverse” exacta returned $42.20. Then you recall what your good friend, a disciple of proper money management, would have done in this scenario. He would have used the $20 as follows: wager $10 to win on the longer priced horse, and box a $5 exacta with the two runners. Such a bet would have returned $182.50, covering your losses for the day.

This scenario is repeated numerous times a day at every betting facility in the country and every online wagering platform. The bettor encounters a race in which he or she does not know what they will do. This is the root of many handicappers’ problems. When a betting situation occurs, they either do not know what to do, or they let recent failures dictate their wager. The result is usually devastating to the struggling horseplayer.

Do you know what you would do in a particular situation? Having a betting plan puts you far ahead of the general public. Many handicappers do not think that they have a problem with betting scenarios, but they will end up wagering on similar situations completely different.

The wagering menu available may also dictate their bets. What normally would be a win and exacta box bet becomes a trifecta bet with the “chance” at a bigger payoff. The win and exacta are forgotten. The top selection wins but the other plays fail to complete the trifecta.

Does any of this sound familiar? How often has it occurred to you that the way you bet caused you to lose the race? Every handicapper has made this mistake. Some just continue to make it everyday.

For players who feel a change is required, let’s go through the steps required to become a better bettor.

 

STEP ONE: Determine Your Level of Risk – Exactly what kind of bettor are you? Are you a $2 win bettor, a $50 win bettor, a $100 multi-race exotics player, or a combination? Know what you are and stick to it.

STEP TWO: Build a Bankroll – The answer to the first step determines the size of your bankroll. The amount you wager on a daily basis, e.g. $200, should be about 5% of your bankroll, which, in this example, would be $4,000.

STEP THREE: Discipline – Avoid spreading your daily bankroll across 10 races. Spot playing does not have to mean one bet per week. Spot playing can be $200 wagered, in aggregate, on your two or three best races of the day.

STEP FOUR: Conviction – If you have to spread your bets too thin, a common occurrence for many at the track, then the wager is not worth making. Conviction results in smart bets with the prospect of a profitable return.

STEP FIVE: Strategy – The theme of this article. You need to predetermine the type of bets you will make depending on the scenario. Nothing needs to be written in stone, but guidelines do need to be decided upon beforehand.

If you have a solid selection in the second race, are you going to play the daily double and for how much? How much will you wager on your second race selection? If there are two horses you figure can run second to your top selection, how will you play the exacta? Of course, there are hundreds of scenarios, depending on your selections and the types of wagers offered. Make a conscious decision to predetermine the type of bets you will make. Be consistent and good luck!

 

  • Rich Nilsen is the founder of AGameofSkill.com. He will be making his 14th trip to the NHC next month.

Handicapping Tips # 12 – The Fear of Losing

by Art Parker

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

The fear of losing

When I first went to a track Jimmy Carter was President. Back then, five bucks bought you a ton of gasoline. You can imagine how I felt when the gates opened after I bet five bucks on a horse to show. I was scared to death because that was a lot of money at that time for me. I wasn’t thinking about winning, I was thinking about losing. I was lucky. The filly got up for third by a head. I made a couple of bucks and thought how easy it was. Then I proceeded to lose money the rest of the day.

When you go to the track, ask yourself,  ‘does the fear of losing weigh more heavily on your mind than the opportunity of winning?’ So many people go to the track and they are not financially prepared for what may become a bad day. An old saying around the track is that, “You can eat your betting money but you should never bet your eating money.” Remember to only wager what you can afford to lose. If you do then you are well on your way to eliminating the fear of losing. One makes better bets and is a better player when thoughts of opportunity outweigh thoughts of losing.