Beggars can’t be choosers; bettors must be choosers

Beggars can’t be choosers; bettors must be choosers

March 17, 2019

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by Frank Cotolo

Last time, Bettors Banquet (BB) addressed the need to pass races in order to help you win money (full story here). We did this with a prime example from an actual race with our two fictional bettors, Delaney and Ollie (you will read about them a lot in BB when we use examples from actual races). Now, BB adds further support to the topic by exploring more reasons for passing and/or playing and how it affects your chances to profit.

These days and nights there are more races at more racetracks made available to wager upon and there are actual and virtual platforms in which a bettor can witness and wager. You can wager on just about every breed racing anywhere in the world. And, due to time differences, it is possible on some days to bet over a 24-hour period. It is awesome for anyone who invests in the game to be presented with such a variety, but one has to learn how to use the volume of possibilities to his or her advantage.

Thank you, new technology.

However, even if I go to a restaurant with the appetite of a grizzly bear coming out of hibernation, I cannot eat all the food on the restaurant menu. Nor could I afford to buy all the food on the menu. Nor do I like to eat most of the food on the menu. So, as awesome as it is to have such a variety, nothing good could come from gorging myself merely because I could afford it.

Choice is not an option in that case; choice is mandatory.

Betting pari-mutuels for profit also demands making choices. For a moment, ponder two questions you may never have asked yourself when you’re locked and loaded to be challenged by pari-mutuels: Which races will you play and why?

If you cannot choose specific races to wager, no less have specific reasons to choose those races, then we cannot even begin to talk about the best ways for you to manage your bankroll (topics for future BB columns). You see, if you have no reasons why you choose to play and you play anyway, you will soon be broke, so the last thing you will need is money management advice.

My rules for choosing hardly ever make it to post time. I make choices while reading past performances (PP). If I do not care for a race while perusing the particulars in the PPs, I turn the page. There is never a reason to waste time juggling handicapping elements just to find an excuse to play a race.

There never was time to waste, even in the old days, when all we were offered were nine races a program at a single track and we had to take a two-hour round trip to bet at all. The phrase “time is money” means as much today as it did then.

There are at least three reasons it is imperative to choose to play as few races as possible and they have to do with the stark realities of betting on any horse race.

First — You will always lose more races than you win, no matter how few races you choose to play. This is sad but true. Over the long run, the raw number of races you win will never exceed the raw number of races you lose. This connects with the reason to play for profit and not pride, since you can make a profit winning one out of ten races but you can lose money winning two out of three.

Second — Ultimately, your skill predicting any winners is merely a victim of circumstances entirely out of your control. As consistent and reliable as is the sport, once a bet is made, every intelligent reason to make that bet can disappear in the blink of an eye. Murphy’s Law — “If anything can go wrong, it will” — can cause a duel between two horses that sets the stage for a longshot closer which never had a chance otherwise. A pacer with a super gait breaks stride. A trotter with a super gait breaks stride. Sulky wheels hook, impeding horses’ progress.

Third — There are people playing against you (the other bettors, your enemies), many of them having talents you lack; others having wagered on horses that will race better than your horse for reasons no one will ever discover.

And so on and so forth.

There is, however, good news that comes from playing as few races as possible. Among the few races you do bet, things may go your way, things you did not expect when you handicapped, things that occur during the mile trip that benefit the horse you bet. As well, sometimes the race can go from start to finish exactly the way you predicted. But the best thing that can happen from one of the few races you decide to bet is a win — no matter how it occurs — that puts you in the minority of winners, paying a bold price; in other words, a time when you defeat the enemy.

… to be continued.

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