Become One of the 5% of Punters Who Win with Horse Racing! 

Guest Post: International Correspondent

When you start implementing Optimal Betting strategy you will quickly see improvements in your returns. This theory is relatively easy to learn, too. 

Start Winning More When You Bet on Horse Races

If you are reading this article, it is safe to assume that you are interested in finding ways to win more when you bet on horse races. Unfortunately, or fortunately, most people are not able to pick a winner when it comes to horse racing. In fact, estimates say that as many as 95% of all horse racing punters lose money at this game.

Fear not, however, as the reason that most punters are not successful when it comes to the betting NZ and the rest of the world provides is because they are not like us. This means they do not study form and horse racing, and they do not have a game plan for studying form and betting on horse racing events. In short, they are quite happy to throw their money into the pools impulsively, and simply hope they get lucky. We, on behalf of the 5% that do make money on betting in this fashion, should be grateful!


You Need a Sound Strategy to Manage Your Money 

It is not possible to win at horse racing betting, or in any other type of gambling, in fact, without a healthy money management plan in place. What, you may ask, constitutes a valid money management plan? In two words, Optimal Betting.


Optimal Betting and the Kelly Criterion 

Optimal betting takes for its base the mathematical principle called the Kelly Criterion. This recommends that you determine what percentage of your bankroll to bet based on your edge over the game.

How to Work Out Your Edge 

Your edge can be expressed as follows:

Edge = W – L/R odds

W:          the percentage of horses that win the race (your win percentage)

L:            the percentage of horses that fail to win the race


R odds:  the average win payout, which will be based on R1. in order to determine this, take your

average totaliser win, subtract R2, then divide by 2 once more. Bear in mind that, if you do

not know both your win percentage and your average tote win, you need to start keeping

track of these immediately.

An example of your edge can be calculated using a win percentage of 25% and an average tote of $9, i.e. $9 – $2 = $7, divided by 2 = $3.5.

Edge = 25 -75/3.5 = 3.6

In this instance, Optimal Betting theory holds that you should bet between 3% and 4% of your bankroll on each of the wagers you place.

young attractive British racegoerYou Need to Know Your Edge 

As far as Optimal Betting is concerned, it is very important that you always know your edge. This means that you have to start keeping betting records, as this will allow you to discover what your win percentage and average tote win is. Betting records will additionally help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses as a form student.

A more conservative approach to managing your money would be to bet a flat percentage of your total bankroll on each of the horse races you wish to wager on, for example 2%, or as low as 1%.

Implementing this single strategy will quickly see you starting to see more returns!


Is Horse Racing Dead? Kentucky Derby Day Handle Hit Record Amounts

churchill downs ky derby dayWith wagering above $200 million for the first time and a top-10 crowd on Kentucky Derby Day, Louisville-based Churchill Downs Inc. expects to add between $4-6 million in increased profitability, the company announced earlier this month.

Source: Kentucky Derby and Derby Day Handle Hit Record Highs

Handicapping Tips # 12 – The Fear of Losing

by Art Parker

Handicapping tips from

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

by Glen S. for

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 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 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


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!