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 2013, 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 HRTV, 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.

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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.

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 2014?

Ten Pitfalls Handicappers Need to Avoid in 2012

With pretty much any problem the first road to recovery is admitting your mistakes. As horseplayers we all made blunders this past year. In fact, I dare say that if we had a dollar for every mistake we made in 2011, we would have enough funds to go after one of those big Southern California carryovers.

 It is never too late to learn from the mistakes we made over the past year and make corrections for future days at the parimutuel windows. In fact, it is vital to our success as horseplayers.

My father, one of the best handicappers I know, often reminded me that horse racing will teach a person to lose better than any other sport or recreation. 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. And who is that? Their fellow horseplayer.

 If you’re not pleased with the results you had in 2011, then check off the following mistakes that you made this past year. Put a star next to the areas you really need to improve on.

1-      You know that you are selecting a high percentage of winners, but your wagering strategies have caused you to lose money on days when you should have won based on your handicapping.

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

3-      You are using the same general 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.

4-      You are swayed easily by others’ opinions, lacking conviction in your own selections and analysis. What you hear on TVG or HRTV, for example, influences how you will wager on the upcoming race.

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

6-      You look for the quick fix, such as a hot tip from an insider or some mail order ‘winning’ system.

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

8-      You pay no attention to how the track is playing, ignoring any potential track biases at play. Are you betting closers on a day when early speed is dominating? Are you wagering on running styles that rarely win at that distance and surface?

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

10-  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.

 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 have 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 2012?

The Top 10 Reasons Handicappers Lose Money

 by Richard Nilsen

 If you have been playing the races this year and are not happy with the results you’ve been getting recently, then it is always a smart idea to take a step back and analyze the situation. What are you doing right, and more importantly, what exactly are you doing wrong?

My father used to remind me that horse racing will teach a person to lose better than any other sport or recreation. Truer words have never been said about this game, because horse racing will often be a real roller-coaster ride. Successful players are able to ride out the bad times in order to reach the “high” moments. Successful players also recognize their faults and consequently make fewer mistakes than their competition. This is a pari-mutuel game, so I am your competition.

 If you are not getting the results you anticipate when you play the horses, chances are that you consistently fall into one or more of the following scenarios:

 1)      You are picking a decent percentage of winners, but your wagering strategies are causing you to lose money. [See reason number five].

 2)      You are betting every single race, instead of looking for prime spot plays. This is the cardinal sin of most bettors. Focus on your best wagers of the day.

 3)      You are employing the same information to handicap that the general public is using. If you are not relying of your own personal notes or a site like Brisnet.com that provides value-added racing information, then you are wagering at a significant disadvantage versus the more sophisticated players.

 4)      You are easily swayed by other people’s input, and therefore, lack conviction in your own selections. This is a game of opinion. Wager on your own.

 5)      You concentrate most of your wagers on low percentage bets. For example, you may be going after too many exotic wagers, such as trifectas and Pick-3’s, that can be both difficult to hit and are based on high takeouts (the amount withheld by the track).

 6)      You look for the quick fix, such as the hot tip from an insider, or the magic formula designed to pick 78-percent winners. No such formula exists, and insider information cannot be relied on over a long-term basis.

 7)      You blame the outcome on an imaginary “fixed” race, instead of looking at the reasons which pointed to the true winner. I highly recommend that you look back over the races you handicapped and dissect the past performances to see why you may have missed the winner(s). All too often, you simply missed an important clue.

 8)      You fail to notice the bias at the track, resulting in wasted money on horses that have the odds stacked against them. Put the percentages in your favor by wagering on horses that fit the profile of the track or the current bias.

9)      You are betting scared money, having no bankroll set aside for horse race betting. You should always have dedicated funds for wagering.

10)  You have no plan or strategy for wagering. You often get in line without knowing your bets, or you jump on your online wagering site with just a few minutes to post and rush your wagers.

Trying to Go Deep?

It is safe to say that most handicappers have committed the mistakes listed above. Of course, the difference lies in who continues to make the same mistakes and who does not. If you feel as though your selections are good, then consider your wagering strategy. Are you swinging for the fences every time, looking to crush the trifecta, meanwhile missing the opportunity for the exacta? Consider knocking your bets down, keying on the Daily Double instead of the Pick-3 or the exacta instead of the trifecta. The inevitable result is that you will cash more tickets and restore your confidence.

 Check the scenarios above which apply to you, then consider the steps you need to take to fix the problems. Doing so, you will place yourself well above the general public, which, we should always remember, is your competition for the wagering dollar. When you minimize the number of mistakes made, your confidence will soar because you will be winning more often. And that is the reason we handicap the horses.

 –          Rich Nilsen is an 8-time qualifier to the National Handicapping Championship and the only player to finish in the top 10 twice. A former executive with Brisnet.com, Rich is now founder of AllStarPress.com, an e-book publishing firm, and AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.