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.

Wagering 101: Understanding Win, Place & Show

Educational video put out by Churchill Downs.  Basic understanding of the ‘straight’ wagers – win, place, show.

MLB: Federal Gambling Standard ‘A Pretty Good Idea’

Baseball and bat_promo_smaller We now have two sports commissioners voicing support for a federal framework for sports gambling. At this weekend’s MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Rob Manfred gave some very qualified support for an idea that was once regarded as a third rail for professional sports leagues.
“I give Adam Silver a…

How to Play Rolling Pick-3s Wagers

How to invest in horse racing

How to invest in horse racing. Learn at agameofskill.com

by Glen S. for Agameofskill.com

Many of the bigger tracks have rolling pick 3s, in which horseplayers are asked to select the winners of three consecutive races. I think this opportunity is a huge advantage to the player if the pick 3s are played in a certain way (which we discuss below).

For starters, the research has been done on rolling pick 3s and the payouts are usually higher than a win parlay of the horses that win each sequence. Also, the pick 3 is a small enough sequence that you can play a strong ticket and not spend that much in order to hit it.

The bigger payouts are obviously when longshots come in, but you do not need to hit back to back 10-1 shots and to get “paid.” Get one price horse in there  and you will be rewarded.

Now it is important to understand you can’t go overboard and put all your budget in one basket when playing these pick 3s. I also think if it is costing you over $48 to play a pick 3 partwheel, you probably shouldn’t be playing it because you really do not have a good feel in the sequence.

Here are a  few key rules I apply when I am playing rolling pick 3s to keep the cost down.  I find it important to have at least one key in the sequence I like a lot. When I start the pick 3 sequence and roll them, I only start when I either have a key or two horses in the first leg. If my key is in the last leg, and the first two legs I need bunches to “save alive,” I will only play one pick 3 until my key is in the first leg. If the total cost of a ticket is between $8 – $12 and I have no key, then I will also play the ticket.

The best way to explain is by an example.  Consider the following hypothetical sequence:

Race#2  Feel only two horses can win.
Race#3  Like a horse at 5-1, can take a chance and key him, but could use others.
Race#4  Vulnerable favorite that should get beat, like as many as four horses, but there are unknowns to deal with.
Race#5 Solid key, expected favorite, ml 2-1, but will go off as low as 4-5.
Race#6 Mid claimer, three or four contenders to use.

Here is how I would play the races 2,3,4

Race#2 start:  1,2/1/all (8 horses), and   1,2,/1,2,3/1,2,3,4

Rae#3 start:  if 1,2 wins then I would play  1,2,3/all(8)/1  and 1,2,3,4,5/1,2,3,4/1.  If 1,2 loses in race 2, then I would play 1/all(8)/1

Race#4 start:  if alive from races 2 and 3 then would play 1,2,3,4/1/1,2,3,4; if knocked out, then I would play all/1/1,2,3

You will see that I adjust my tickets accordingly. I am either expanding a few longshots if I have a few good pick 3 tickets going, so if I lose a final leg, I am “covering” a little (having a longshot that is coming in that I will now have).

In all cases I need to hit one of my keys somewhere to win. Playing the above tickets keeps the ticket size down but allows you many options to hit a nice ticket or hit a few tickets in a row. Either way you are making some money.

Feel free to comment or question on why I play it this way, and even tell me that this is the wrong way to play. I am always open to discuss new ways to play or learn something new.

Know When to Choose the “ALL” Button

by Glen S.

“Buying” a race or buying a level in a vertical sequence, such as a trifecta or superfecta wager, can get costly, but if done correctl,y it can pay off huge.

There are a few situations where I believe hitting the “ALL” button is a good idea:

* A vulnerable favorite that you believe will not win but you do not know who will beat him.

* Lots of unknowns, for example several first time starters or most of the horses racing first time on turf or most stretching out for the first time in distance.

* None of the horses able to run to the par figures of the class level. When you know all the horses are slow then it allows anyone to win the race.

* You have a field of eight horses and you feel six or seven of them can win.  It is obvious you do not have a good feeling for the race. My rule is never leave out one horse.  It has happened that one horse [I left out] has beaten me and also that horse is the one that really makes the wager pay.

* Using the all in a trifecta race is good when you have a standout in your mind, especially if  between 3-1 to 5-1. Also if you like the horse and then would need a bunch underneath because the others are all similar types.

* If you have two horses that stand above the rest and the rest are running for 3rd or 4th.  This is a great type of race to use the all in the bottom of the trifectas and supers.

When NOT to hit the “All” button:

* When it is lazy handicapping.

* You’ve run out of time handicapping and simply hit the All in the last leg or a leg you did not look at closely.

* The favorite looks like he has a decent chance to win, but you are simply hoping that he doesn’t.

* If you have a 10-1 or higher horse and you’re using the All underneath for trifectas or supers.  It is much better to bet the horse to win instead of keying in the exotics.

* When each horse you use in the All is costing way to much because you haven’t keyed elsewhere.

Select your situations wisely, and good luck!

Gov. Christie signs revised N.J. sports betting bill

New Jersey Governor Christie on Friday signed a revised sports betting bill, and Monmouth Park officials almost simultaneously said they would offer betting on National Football League games at the horse track on Oct. 26. “The Governor’s signature on S2460 earlier today is a wire-to-wire winner for horse racing, the gaming industry and the people of… [Read more…]

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.

[Editor’s Note: enter promo code AGOS at www.betptc.com for special cash back rewards on your horse racing, harness and greyhound wagers]

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?

8 Strategies and Tips to Help Your Bottom Line – Part II

Ross Gallo continues offering his wisdom from 30 years of handicapping with the remaining five steps from his article last week.

Don’t be afraid to use the “All” button on occasion.  Handicappers are a proud lot.  I know guys who will never press “All”.  “There’s always throwouts.”  Or, “The 5, 7 and 8 can’t win here.”  I get it, really.  You know what you’re doing, you can weed out the race and it’s a waste of money.  Well, I contend that horses win every day that you couldn’t have had with tomorrow’s paper.  And I certainly don’t think you should always use it, but sometimes there are races so hard they can’t be handicapped.  And the extra cost will repay you in the long run with just a couple of those “impossible” wrinkles.

An example: 2007 the first year the Breeders Cup went to two days, I was at Canterbury Park preparing to play in my handicapping tournament (yes I had a real-money high end BC tournament, LONG before the BCBC.  But that’s a story for another day), a few buddies and I decided to pitch in and play the late Pick 4.  I took everyone’s opinion and started writing up the play.  We agreed on two things, the first leg was impossible and we liked Corinthian in the last leg, the Dirt Mile.  I felt I was done when I noticed we had left four horses out of the first leg.  I wrote one last ticket, those four with our top three horses in both of the next two legs and Corinthian in the last.  $36 out of a total $600 play, only 6% of the play.  Impossible horse wins first leg, $60 or $80 to win I think.  Top 3 win next two, and Corinthian jogs.  The payoff: $24,000.

We’re high fiving and celebrating, another friend comes up to me, ‘How on earth did you guys come up with that first horse?!”  “All” button baby!  Can’t cash a Pick 4 if you’re not alive.”  With 50 cent Pick 3, 4 and 5’s, 10 cents supers and Pick 6’s out there, the cost of this practice, on occasion, is not as severe as one might think.  And I would point out, in a 10 cents super, you might only need one of those 80-1 shots to run third or fourth to make you a big score.

ALWAYS bet against Bridge Jumpers.  Bridge Jumpers, for those of you who might not know, are people who see what looks like a sure thing horse and bet huge amounts to show in order to grab that quick 5% return.  $100,000 to show will earn you a $5,000 profit.  This will often work, but as everyone knows there is no such thing as a sure thing.  Play everyone else to show every time in this scenario.  The risk is minimal.  In a six horse race, for example, a $5 show bet on everyone else in the race (besides the favorite) will cost $25 and you’re guaranteed $10.50 back.  In an extreme situation, if one of those horses miss, you could average $75 a show ticket.  That would get you a return of $562.50.  The payoffs aren’t always that big, but the upside far outweighs the risk.  These horses run out on occasion, and in the long run you can’t lose playing against them.   Bet $2, $5, $10, $20, or even $100.  Whatever your bankroll allows, whenever you see a horse with 95% of the Show pool or more, NEVER pass on any of these opportunities.

“My friend just burned $600 because he’s up there calling numbers out and has no clue what he has or hasn’t got. “

Try to find a rebate program.  There are so many of them out there these days.  Most of the online services, and even some tracks offer cash back.  Ask your friends what they’re doing, but definitely look around.  The more you bet, the more they’ll give you, but even a percentage point back can have a positive effect on your bottom line come year’s end.

Keep a playback/play against list.  DRF and Brisnet.com both offer Stable Mail for free.  Easy to use, for sure, and invaluable.  You see a horse get stopped several times, come late for a sneaky fifth, you have to bet him back.  With horses changing tracks it’s easy to miss him if you don’t have an email notification service.  Conversely, I find keeping horses to play against next out just as valuable.  Odds-on favorite gets perfect trip and is all out to beat a 30-1 shot and looks terrible doing it.  Form will look good with the win, but that’s a horse that will get bet next out that I want to eliminate.  Betting against low priced horses that you’re fairly sure are throwouts?  It doesn’t get much better than that.

Wagering Tote self service machine

copyright AGameofSkill.com

Write down your bets before you go to the window.  This sounds simple right?  It is, but I’d love to have a dollar for every time I’ve heard something like this:  “Hey what do you like this race?”  “I love the 6 with 1, 2, 3.”  I watch the race, it runs 621, I see my friend.  “What did you get there?” “I don’t know he says as he rifles through the tickets.”  “Oh no man I forgot to get the $20 exactas 6 over 1-2-3, I only have a stinking $1 tri.”  Exacta paid $60 but the favorite ran third and the trifecta was $150 for a dollar.  My friend just burned $600 because he’s up there calling numbers out and has no clue what he has or hasn’t got.  I always write my bets down before I go to the window or sit down to bet at the computer.  This way I know I’ll get what I want, and if the total comes out different than what I figured, I know I forgot something or messed up a part wheel ticket.  This is a very simple tip that will save you from yourself.  The game is hard enough as it is, you don’t want to leave money behind with human error.

There you have it.  A few things that have worked out well for me over the years; hope they do the same for you.  Happy hunting (winners) my friends!

Tackling the Pick-6 Wager

By Rich Nilsen

In 2004 I became part of the three-player team in the AmericaTAB Pick-6 Players’ Pool, responsible for wagering the group funds of the account wagering customers in that year’s Breeders’ Cup Pick Six.

The Players’ Pool was a creative concept: a new type of group syndicate, the first of its kind to pool the wagering funds (as little as $10) from the online wagering site’s members who chose to participate. It was a huge responsibility and not nearly as easy as it appeared at first glance.

Along with handicappers Brad Anderson and Ron Ruchtie, we successfully hit five out of six that year, only our loss coming when Euro invader Wilko upset the Juvenile. The five winners were the most in the Pick Six sequence, resulting in nearly a $200,000 profit for the group’s contributors.

Fast forward seven years and numerous attempts with the Players’ Pool syndicate. Over the years I captained a team that included some outstanding handicappers: Stanley Bavlish, Steve Wolfson, Jr., Tim Holland, Paul Shurman, Jeff Sotman, Dennis Tiernan, as well as the dynamic duo of Bryan and Judy Wagner.

We were fortunate enough to have several great scores including hitting a Hollywood Park Pick-6 six times, nailing the 2007 Kentucky Derby Pick-6 twice, and having two scores return over $400,000 each in 2010.

I’ve learned a lot during the timeframe. What to do. What not to do. What traps to avoid and so on.

 

Players' Pool 2007 Derby score

The Players' Pool hit 2 of the 4 winning Pick-6 tickets in the country in 2007

PICK SIX ADVICE

Preparation & Funding

It goes without saying that the first thing a horseplayer should do is be prepared. If you don’t have the time or the resources to go after the Pick Six properly, then pass. Tomorrow’s carryover may be enticing, but there are always future opportunities. Don’t throw $124 into a ticket that you didn’t handicap thoroughly.

On that same premise, you are much better off pooling your money together with other players and going after the ticket with a “fighting” chance. In my opinion you should have at least $500 to work with. Anything less is going to make things very difficult on you, and the chances of having all six winners is miniscule.

When I worked at Brisnet.com we would occasionally pool money together in the office to go after a Pick Six carryover. Many years ago we put in about $500 for a six-figure Pick Six carryover at Saratoga. James Scully, editor for the Handicapper’s Edge, and I ended up hitting all six winners, beating the favorite in every leg of the sequence as well as hitting our $19 single in the feature event. The Pick Six returned around $20,000.*

*To this day I am convinced that this was one of the Pick Six’s that Chris Harn had swindled players on. If you don’t know who Harn is, google “chris harn pick six.”

Pace Scenarios

Finding a vulnerable favorite(s) is key with any Pick Six sequence. One way to do just that is to analyze the pace scenario for each and every race. Make note of how fast or slow you expect the pace to be, and which runners will be up on the early pace. After you do that, you should be able to identify the runners who will be helped or hindered by the expected pace scenario.

If the favorite is a one-run closer, or sustained type, and the pace figures to be moderate or slow, then you need to have the guts to throw that runner out. If you are wrong about the pace scenario, then that decision may cost you, but these are exactly the types of situations you need to find an edge.

Likewise, if the fractions figure to be honest or fast, and the favorite is a front runner, again take the stand against this horse.

You’re not going to nail a lucrative Pick Six payoff by including six favorites in your sequence. Don’t play the ticket that even Grandma Lulu would have.

Play The Percentages

Another scenario you will come across is the favorite or second choice that is conditioned by a trainer who rarely wins, or ridden by a low percentage jockey. If both circumstances are present, then the runner is an automatic toss from the tickets.

Same goes for post position. Is a low-priced horse breaking from the ten hole in a two-turn race? Toss.

Look for valid handicapping reasons to exclude low-priced horses from the ticket.

Don’t Fall for the Big Name Horse

Don’t assume that just because Uncle Mo is in the Pick Six sequence and he is 6/5 morning line, that he is a lock to win and turn the bet into an automatic “Pick Five” play. I have seen this type of big name runner lose many times on an important Pick Six day. Needless to say, beating a runner like this can result in a bonanza payoff.

“Uncle Mo” may be a legitimate favorite, but he may also be beatable. Go two or three deep in the race, instead of singling the horse everyone and their brother will be singling, based mostly on reputation. If you beat him, you have gained a tremendous advantage.

Handicap this race like you would any other, and you may just find a vulnerable odds-on favorite.

Structuring the Ticket

Obviously, how you are going to structure the Pick Six ticket(s) is going to depend an awful lot on how much funds you have to work with.

It is critical to spread in the right race – which is easier said than done, I know. Typically, this is going to be a race(s) that you simply don’t have a good opinion on. It should not be the full-field maiden turf race, just because it is a full-field maiden turf race. Everyone knows the types of races most likely to produce a longshot. It is certainly important to identify those races that typically are contentious, but you should only go deep in a race if you feel you need to.

With the type of funds we are talking about for the average player, one large partwheel is the best way to go. There is nothing wrong with having a few small “saver” tickets, covering combinations you don’t have on the large ticket, but the chances of hitting with the small partwheel tickets is very slim.

There are many sharp horseplayers out there who strongly believe you should break up your combinations into numerous, smaller partwheel tickets, emphasizing certain horses. I am not one of them. What is likely to happen is you have all the winners, but they are on different tickets. There is nothing more painful than thinking you could have had the Pick Six sequence if you had just played one larger ticket.

What follows is a hypothetical Pick Six structure, given we have $624 to work with after pooling some money together with friends.

L1) A, B, C, D

L2) A, B

L3) A, B, C

L4) A

L5) A, B, C, D, E, F

L6) A, B

Total $576

With the $48 we have left over, we use those funds to cover against a race we are uncomfortable with. In this case we’ve used the two horses we are most afraid of could defeat us in the last leg. If circumstances work out well, that could leave us alive to four horses in the final leg, instead of two.

L1) A, B

L2) A, B

L3) A

L4) A

L5) A, B, C

L6) C, D

Total $48

 

My final bit of advice is not to chase after a lot of Pick Six carryovers. Constantly going after these bets can cause a real drain on your wagering bankroll. Keep it in perspective, have fun, and may luck be on your side!

(reprinted from the January 2012 issue of The Horse Player Magazine)


Tackle the Multi-race wagers and Pick-6 with help from the One Minute Handicapper

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The OMH identifies 22 easy to spot “BETTING SITUATIONS” which makes is ideal for Pick Six handicapping. It makes the past performances less intimidating and easy to read. The concept is actually very simple. The more situations you learn to identify, the “Bettor” your chances of picking the winner! You will be introduced to an innovative, one of a kind, user friendly, BETTING SITUATION WORKSHEET, showing you how to create an easy to follow road map to simplify the handicapping process and make profitable betting decisions. When you use the Worksheet, the winner will virtually “jump off the page.”

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Somewhere Over the Rainbow

by Jude Feld (reprinted with permission of our friends at Horse Racing Radio Network)

Jude Feld, handicapper and bloggerEvery day, Equibase, the official source for Thoroughbred racing information, publishes a “Top Carryovers” section on the home page of their website. Obviously countless horseplayers are interested in these “bonus” payoffs and the prospects of playing for what amounts to free money, lost on previous days’ races.

Gulfstream Park offers the “Rainbow Six.” Unlike the name suggests, this is not a wager exclusively for gay people and Hawaiians. It is open to everyone and only requires the player to pick six consecutive winners. There is a twist however. You get the whole pool if you possess the ONLY ticket on the winning Rainbow Six combination.

Fair Grounds has the “Black Gold 5.” Not a bet just for Steelers fans or Jed Clampett, it is a five straight winner concoction with same singular ticket payoff rule.

These bets often offer life changing pools and they are certainly preferred to playing the lottery, but to say they are tricky would be the understatement of all time.

Just think about how many times you have hit the Pick Six.

Then think of how many times you had the only ticket.

Do these wagers still interest you?

I have been a serious player since 1978. At one time, I was part of a small Pick Six syndicate that won the bet seven days in-a-row. Only once in that stretch did we have the only ticket – a $75,000 score at Los Alamitos.

Twice in my life I have had a chance at a “whole pool” life changing score in the Pick Six. Once, at Del Mar, when I was singled to a horse I was training, who was running in the last race of the day, for a $200,000 payoff – he finished third. The most painful was a $640,000 chance, when my single in the feature was scratched, and by rule, I got the post time favorite, who also finished third.

In over 30 years, my handicapping and racing luck was that good twice…and I still got beat.

I am certainly no Hindu holy man. The siren call of winning enough money to retire to a beach house in Barbados resonates in my soul almost every time I see huge carryovers. But you’ve gotta pick your spots.

Last year, at Gulfstream, I really liked three longshots in the Rainbow Six sequence. Singling those three, I used four in two races and two in the other race, purposely leaving every morning line favorite off the $32 ticket.

I had four winners and two seconds, making my ticket excellent scratch paper.

That was the only time I played the Rainbow Six in over a dozen days at Gulfstream. The other times, the pool was small or I liked too many chalky types.

Thankfully, I backed my longshots by themselves, so although my day wasn’t life changing, it was extremely lucrative. It is always nice to win when you lose.