Breaking Stride

Max the Maven

February 4, 2018

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by Trey Nosrac

We occasionally participate in activities where we demonstrate few skills. Trey often finds himself on the dance floor at weddings; this had led to the maiming of innocent dancers during the electric slide and the tragic polka episode of 2012 that remains sealed by court order.

Singing loudly to rock songs while driving your vehicle is another arena many of us frequent. We use our steering wheel as an air guitar while ripping through Boardwalk Angel with John Cafferty and The Beaver Brown Band. In our minds, we are stars. In reality, we are limited.

Although wildly enthusiastic, my rock and roll vocal limitations include range, tempo, rhythm, and a strange type of dyslexia that prevents me from remembering more than one verse of lyrics to any song in any musical genre. It costs nothing to sing myself hoarse or to hip hop until dawn.

I also enjoy wagering on harness horses and watching them race.

Deep down, beneath my jaunty attitude and delusions of adequacy, I realize that I am a horrible handicapper. There are many reasons for my poor handicapping skills. I do not spend the time necessary. I failed math. I have a perverse sense of rebellion that renders me incapable of wagering on the favorite. Money management has never been my forte. I am so far out of the loop that I cannot even see the loop and I am emotional and irrational. For example, I always wager on any horse having a bowel movement during warmups.

The difference between singing off key and wagering on harness races foolishly — is money. Just as I struggle remembering lyrics and dance steps, I struggle to remember the last time my evening of handicapping was profitable.

In our world, there are specialists. The computer allows us to find experts in pottery making, publishing, petunia growing, philanthropy or pig farming. In the world of gambling on harness horseracing, there are handicappers. Some of these people know more than I will ever know. I would like to use some of these experts.

Do a little of that troubling math with me.

Let us say that each evening of gambling on racing, I earmark $100. I gamble 30 times each year. My total annual outlay is $3,000. Over the course of the year, careful documentation shows that due to my previously stated handicapping shortcomings, coupled with the astronomical take-out percentage (often more than 25 per cent), I lose about, well, all of my money.

Let us say, each time I sat down for a harness racing evening, I outsourced my $100 to an expert. Let us refer to him as Max the Maven.

Max understands many things about gambling on harness races that I do not — rebates, takeouts, tendencies, mathematic calculations, trainers, and computers. Max contracts to manage my $100 for a small percentage of those mythical winnings that I have long pursued.

The process would look something like this:

1. Max the Maven posts on his website that he will be on duty Friday night from 8-10 p.m.
2. I e-mail Max that I am in for Friday’s action and send him $100.
3. Max the Maven takes my money.
4. I do not know what races or how much he will wager.
5. On Friday at 8:01 p.m., Max sends me an email and a text that, “We are live.
6. Throughout Friday evening, Max texts or emails me bulletins…

“You have $20 to win on the #7 horse in the 4th race at Woodbine (link here), post time is in 4 minutes.”

All evening Max handles my plays. He directs, or controls my computer feed. He keeps me posted and keeps a running tally of my $100 bankroll. I watch and cheer. As the clock chimes 10 p.m., the evening concludes, the final wager placed, the final race run and we settle all scores.

• If my tally is zero, I am back where I usually am, with much less effort.
• If my tally is between zero and $100, Max refunds any remaining money.
• Should I venture into the strange territory of having more than my original $100, let us say my tally is up to $400, Max will send me my original $100 back, take 5 per cent of the $300 profit for service rendered, and send me the remaining profit.

Nobody gets hurt. I fill my fun need. I do not need to overthink or second-guess. Harness racing keeps me as a gambler. Max gets a fee for his expertise. Money managers, like Max, may bring in new players. I will sing, twist and shout all the way to the bank.

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