Tipping Points

Tipping Points

November 4, 2018

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The Real Life Ventures and Adventures of Trey and Batman

by Trey Nosrac

Our destination was Dayton Racetrack to do “research” on the harness horse business. My new horse partner suggested we take back roads. Through the windshield, October leaves zigzagged down like playing cards from squirrels folding in a game of Texas Hold-Em. Every ten miles or so, we cruised through another small tired town desperately struggling to survive in a big new world.

We slid down our windows to sniff in the smells of the season, but we only caught a whiff when we stopped for a light or a stop sign, probably a little life lesson. Five miles past the shadow of a town called Ditmore Junction, I decided to spit out an idea that was rattling around in my head for the past two days.

I turned to him and said, “I’ve got an idea. It’s crazy good, like your old buddy Steve Job’s good. Maybe you can get me a patent or something because it involves the internet and social media.”

He shot me a glance and a grin, “You sure you want to tell me about it – I might steal it.”

“I’ll risk it. I’m telling you, Batman, this might be a better plan to help save harness racing than your secret schemes. It’s a great idea but needs some of your expertise because my business skill is equal to a head of cabbage.”

He chuckled, “Sounds serious.”

I drove up behind a yellow tractor pulling a trailer filled with bales of hay.

I slowed behind the behemoth and said to my passenger, “Sit in my shoes.”

He chirped, “Maybe you mean stand in my shoes.”

“Maybe I mean, walk in my shoes.”

“Maybe you mean, walk a mile in my shoes.”

I sighed, “Maybe we should stop bantering about shoes.”

He grinned and gave me a time-out tee sign.

“Thank you. Now, returning to my brilliant idea. Let us begin with the premise that there are some people in the world like me like who prefer to watch harness races instead of Wheel of Fortune, Naked and Afraid, or World Indoor Drone Flying Competition.”

“Your target audience.”

“Yes, we are out there and we like to do a little gambling.”
“Okay.”

I continued, “Some of us may not know much, but we know that we aren’t good handicappers. I haven’t won money wagering on harness racing since the days of Billy Ray Cyrus and Achy Breaky Heart.”

He smiled, “I can see you line dancing.”

“I even had a black cowboy hat. But, I digress…handicapping races takes time and work. As you may have noticed, I am busy driving you around and wasting my free time. Devoting time to statistics and variables that go into wagering on horses is a problem. I’m out of the handicapping loop. I’m a dilettante, not a savant. Therefore, people of my ilk, are faced with working hard and spending time losing money to prove we are lousy handicappers.”

“Not seeing a business plan yet, Trey.”

“First, I’m gonna tell you a story.”

“I like a good story.”

“My uncle took me to a harness racetrack when I was nine-years-old. As we entered the building, there was a man in a suit sitting on a high stool selling Tip Sheets. He would call out, ‘Get your winners here while they last. Don’t go home a loser.’ He peddled his yellow sheets like a carnival barker. They cost fifty cents and had selections for every race with a short commentary like, ‘On the rise’ or ‘A sleeper waiting to wake up.’ My uncle usually bought one and slipped it in his racing program.”

“How much research went into the tip sheet?

“No idea. But in the technological age, we need these tipsters.”

“Proceed with your plan.”

“We find a true handicapper like Bob Pandolfo. We place him into a business. Let’s name it – Big P’s Pod Play.”

“Which is?”

I reached into the wallet pocket of my jeans, tugged out a folded sheet of notebook paper, and handed it to him. He gave me an odd look, unfolded the paper, and then read.

• Each P-play covers five races, about five minutes apart.

• Players sign in for tonight’s P-Play.

• We buy our “Tip Sheet” from Pandy for $25 (or increments of $25).

• Once we pay, our thinking is finished.

• Over the next half hour or so, Pandy takes the wheel, which in this case is the live stream feed.

• He will wager $5 from our tip sheet purchase on his next five preferred races.

• He will have a few minutes before the post to explain his selection to us.

• We will watch the race.

• He will take a few seconds after each race to explain what went right or wrong.

• At the end of five races, if the Pod did not have success and the money is gone, the players get nothing. Pandy gets nothing.

• At the end of the half hour, if tonight’s Pod has made money, Pandy takes a 4 per cent cut for his efforts. We, as the brains, operators, and bankers behind this madness, take 1 per cent.

He refolded the paper and handed it back to me. “In essence, certain gamblers pay the expert handicapper a 5 per cent fee for his work and for placing your bets?”

“Yep, a guy like Pandy is probably 20 per cent smarter than me at picking winners. Farming out our wagering would save me time, save me money, and I would not need to wrestle with my device. Not to mention, I would have someone to blame when I lose. In fact, I will never pick the wrong horse again — it’s like the perfect storm.”

“Trey, calm down. You usually don’t get this excited.”

“So what do you think?”

He nodded, “Interesting…your Pod Play idea would not be intimidating. It would enable those with a desire to learn harness horse handicapping from an expert. Each Pod Play is a lesson from a professional. Soon, people may prefer to take the tipster out and take the wheel themselves. That could bring people into the real game of race handicapping.”

“I told you this was gold.”

He gave me a slowdown motion by pushing his palms against an invisible wall, “Well, I see some holes and possible legal issues, but it is certainly worth a second look. There may be an opportunity here. Give me a few days to think this through, to do some research. We can hold another meeting on the subject. We can spitball some more and maybe I can add a few twists.” He paused and added, “And Trey, your shoes are a fine fit.”

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