Accountable bettors and their never-ending season

Accountable bettors and their never-ending season

December 13, 2019

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by Frank Cotolo

An early Happy New Year, and to racehorses of all breeds, happy birthday. Now, here comes 2020, and everything changes again.

Or does it?

The equine divisions change. Horses graduate and face some different challengers. But on the whole, quite frankly, the “class” of pari-mutuels bettors, though they are all a year older, never matures.

Handicapper/bettor consciousness is an incessant state of mind and emotion. This meant and means even the smartest horseplayer will make the same mistakes in 2020 that he or she has always made. In fact, such behavior tends to worsen than improve.

Bettor, ready your defense at the end of 2019 and address the Bettors Banquet (BB) charge.

BB: If you have been betting harness races in 2019, how did it go — financially?

BETTOR (BET): Not so bad, you know?

BB: Define “not so bad,” please.

BET: Won a few, lost a few.

BB: More wins than losses?

BET: Yeah, maybe not by much, but yeah, I won more.

BB: So you made a profit?

BET: I made money, yeah.

BB: But did you make more money than you bet?

BET: I had some big scores.

BB: But did you make a profit, Mister Bettor, did you make more money than you bet?

BET: I made money, sure.

BB: Did you make a profit?

BET: Define profit.

The bettor does not understand what he or she never understood. Nothing changes.

Profit is all that matters, or should matter, to players. Serious, as well as casual bettors should be able to look back at the past year of “action” and be able to prove their success or failure based on profit or loss. Their word will not do, even if they swear on the souls of their parents.

The only admissible evidence to substantiate profit or loss is the documentation of, at the very least, how much a player bet and how much a bettor cashed throughout a calendar year. Such proof is always available in a player’s wagering ledger. Yet, keeping a wagering a ledger, though it is the easiest chore a horseplayer will ever have to do, remains the least likely tool he or she maintains, no less respects.

A ledger is an easy chore because you do not have to be an accountant to set one up or keep it accurate so it keeps you honest. For three decades I have kept one, no matter how much or how little I wagered in a year, using an all purpose composition book (usual cost 99 cents). After each betting session I enter figures into two simple columns. On the left I write the total cash wagered that session. On the right I enter the total cash collected that session — or a line through that space to indicate a shutout.

Passing up the simplicity of setting up and maintaining such an important part of a bettor’s activity is unforgivable. What is more important is that its simplicity also means you can start at any time. There is no need to wait for the official beginning of 2020. Do it now. Get yourself a composition book or any such writing tablet and start your fiscal year of wagering with your next betting session.

Make everything change from that day onward.


Let’s face it, the bettor is not going on a hiatus just because the 2019 stars on the track are taking off for their birthdays, awaiting awards and applause. Many racetracks are operating, presenting the bread-and-butter events that make it easy to pick and choose where good investments arise.

Smart and successful bettors never depend solely on great horses in high-profile races for great profits. Many times, the best battles are won in the trenches of the battlefield, so to speak, where overlays lurk and upsets are common. The chances are munificent. As deep winter fades into spring, raceways are pumping out the kinds of races that can produce the breadth of an entire winning season faster than you can say Somebeachsomewhere.

In the past, players had to rely upon local tracks for their betting campaigns. Those times are long gone. Technology has opened a portal to make bets on races anywhere, eliminating expenses for travel and food and parking and admission.

In Canada alone this December, you have your choice of betting at Charlottetown, Century, Flamboro, Frasier, Western Fair, Rideau-Carleton, Truro and Woodbine Mohawk Park.

In the states, in the East and Midwest and the West, covering all of the North American time zones, dozens of overnight races and local features are awaiting perusal.

It is a true banquet for bettors but the old rules apply — no binging allowed. Choosing races and passing races, the all-important skills of the profitable bettor, as was originally addressed in BB, is easier. And with a wagering ledger, proving your success will be easier.

… to be continued.

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