by Frank Cotolo
In the most recent Bettors Banquet (BB) column (full story here), we used the North America Cup as an example of how a personal odds line (POL) is written for a stakes event (and we wound up with a very accurate set of numbers). We used the million-dollar event for its currency while emphasizing that my POL for the classy race was a process that does not change for any class of racing.
This is good news for anyone who feels writing a POL is a wasteful gimmick or a quirky system, because gimmicks and systems have specifically designed rules that are not governed by sound mathematics. Writing a POL is pragmatic arithmetic, applicable to any level of racing contest that can be used by veteran or novice.
In this BB, we look at three relevant shortcuts that will guide any horseplayer writing a POL. The shortcuts are listed below in the order of execution. We include explanations and reasoning directly related to the steps involved.
1. Find your contenders
Simply, contenders are the horses in any race you feel have chances to win that race. Do not put the horses you choose in any order. Choose as many horses as fit that definition. Forget the others entirely.
Note that any races with more than four contenders chosen per eight horses entered is going to be difficult to write a POL line that defies the odds the public will decide. Finding too many contenders is a strong indication that you should move on to another race. This is due to the fact that the margin of error when assigning odds to contenders will increase as the number of contenders increases.
2. Demand your winning prices using odds (percentages)
With an ideal eight-horse field yielding three contenders, choose the dollar amount you deem fair if each contender won. Here, you are the judge of “fair prices.”
In the past, you probably put the three contenders into a selected order—one to win, another to place and the third to show. You do not need to stop the basic concept of what you have done; you need to become better at it by assigning a price (translated to odds) you would accept for each contender (which you chose).
You will never demand an incorrect price because firstly, the price is your opinion, and secondly, you have the brilliance of the math to back it up.
As an example, if you demand $8 to win on a contender, you are assigning it 3-1 odds. If, in the same race, you want $10 to win on another contender, you are assigning it 4-1 odds. Let’s say your remaining contender would only be worth it to you if it paid $9. That means you give that contender odds of 7-2.
3. Add the percentages of your contenders
You do this using the math on your odds-to-percentage chart (OC). In this case you add 25 (3-1) to 20 (4-1) to 22 (7-2). The total is 67. In an eight-or-more horse field, only 33 per cent remains available to assign horses that are not your contenders. In essence, it does not matter how the remaining 33 percent is divided among them; after all, for you they are not contenders.
Can it be less complicated than that? Not really. Can it be any better than what you do now to come up with contenders that you marry to the finishes you predict of them? Not really. The POL that results from following the three shortcuts explained is your be-all and end-all commitment to the race for which it was designed. It is the “book” you offer yourself as a gambler, a set of chances you demand from each horse you measure in universal math.
Before we endeavor into the follow-through actions of wagering based upon the POL, here is more to read about the “demanding” factor.
When you demand a price, you are married to the definition of the word. The prices you demand cannot be changed. Their values dictate the required activity—or the required inactivity. You must have one of the demands met to become active. If you do not receive your demands you will not become active in that race. It’s a pass.
This is one great factor to help with one of the main problems you probably have—wagering on too many races. Passing races is a good thing, as we have insisted from our first BB column. Abandoning the POL you have written because you won’t get your price demand is the definitive sign there is no reason for you to wager.
The importance of meeting your own demands for prices is the portal to finding true “value” in wagers that intrinsically contribute to profits. The mathematics and necessary commitments to value are coming next in BB.
… to be continued