by Frank Cotolo
Bettors Banquet (BB) persists with the topic of writing a personal odds line (POL) with another example and information to emphasize its importance as a major profit-making tool when playing pari-mutuels.
The tool, however, will not work if you do not cover the chances of every horse in the field without entertaining a single thought about betting any one of them. The best reason for having no intention to play a race when you write a POL is the fact that you might not use the POL to wager on any race you handicap (how to use a POL concerning betting or passing races is an upcoming topic).
To traditional handicappers (those looking to “pick,” not “play” for profit), the idea of putting as much work as a POL demands into a race that you might not bet a dime into is to squander time. Not so. Writing a POL will actually help you to pass races, an important part of your pari-mutuel behavior (as we discussed when the BB series began) and because it was written with objectivity it speaks the ultimate wisdom about betting any race for profit.
Let us look at another example of writing a POL using the math on our odds-to-percentage chart (OC) to measure our opinions of a race field. The race we use was s at Woodbine/Mohawk on May 23, a mile conditioned pace. It was a 10-horse field. Again, remember when evaluating all examples — you do not entertain any wagering when you write a POL.
Our fictional handicappers, Delaney and Ollie, address the race. This time, Ollie goes first, showing Delaney, the traditional handicapper, the POL he has written for it.
Ollie’s POL, in order of his assigned odds:
Major Hill 5-2
Hes A Sensation 5-2
Mission Three 9-1
Notetoself Hanover 20-1
Surprise Hanover 20-1
Mac Raider 20-1
Face Of War 50-1
Dam Lucky 50-1
Delaney: How do you know it’s good?
Ollie: Because it equals 100. Remember, I ask if a race is run 100 times, how many times will each horse win? In this field I say Major Hill and Hes A Sensation could win 29 times each.
Delaney: Why 29? Why not 40 or 37?
Ollie: There’s no formula to come up with specific odds to assign. You estimate based on how strongly you feel horses could win. It makes for a fair evaluation of your handicapping. So, here I see two horses I think have the best chances to win and I settle on 5-2 (29 per cent each).
Delaney: I can do that, but I’d get to 100 per cent differently. Mission Three is my first choice, so I make him (looks at OC) 1-1. I make Hes A Sensation 2-1, and I make Notetoself Hanover 5-1.
Ollie: What about the other seven horses?
Delaney: I don’t think any of them have a chance to win, so why give them odds?
Ollie: Because they each have some chances of winning, so you must respect those possibilities, as slim as they may be.
Delaney: So then I’ll keep my odds and I’ll make the other seven 100-1 each.
Ollie: That equals more than 100 per cent. Your first three choices alone almost equal 100 per cent, so making the other seven 100-1 each means your POL is over 100 per cent.
Delaney: It’s close enough, though, right?
Ollie: Nope. Your POL has to equal 100 per cent or you defeat the purpose.
Delaney: What’s the purpose again?
Ollie: The purpose, to be exact, is to be exact. POL math has to equal 100. If you cannot conduct that total, don’t waste your time trying to handicap the race.
Delaney is not convinced. He feels it’s easier to pick a horse he thinks will win and play it. What Delaney doesn’t realize is that Ollie’s POL will serve two purposes that will never be options for him. First, Ollie’s POL will force him to pass races and second, it will dictate races he plays.
Ollie takes Delaney’s three contenders and shows him one good way they can get to a 100-per cent total.
Mission Three 2-1
Hes A Sensation 4-1
Notetoself Hanover 6-1
Major Hill 10-1
Surprise Hanover 20-1
Mac Raider 20-1
Face Of War 17-1
Dam Lucky 20-1
Ollie: In this POL, you still have your top three choices first, second and third, only now they hold particular value and you’ve given all the horses chances to win. Most importantly, the total is 100 per cent.
Delaney: Okay, but why would I do all that math if I’m going to bet my top choice anyway?
Ollie: You’re thinking about betting the race again. Don’t do that, it’s not handicapping.
Your POL is handicapping, so it is the perfect tool. Get to work learning to write a POL, practice, and stick with BB as next we give you tips to write one faster.
… to be continued.