Return to betting poised to profit

by Frank Cotolo

This is warning.

During the “harness hiatus” I heard and read how many bettors said they were going through severe withdrawal from having to retreat from all wagering territory.

They needed “action.”

North American harness raceways are now relaunching the 2020 season a few meets at a time. If the COVID-19 curve continues shrinking, more tracks will present racing programs again, without or with spectators. For the time being, though, the choices for betting are concentrated on just so many tracks, no attendance and remote access only for wagering.

This is good news.

This may also be bad news; harmful news.

You bettors that were impatient and eager for “action” are most likely panting at the thrill of making bets (action), all kinds of bets (action), everywhere bets can be made (action). The bigger the doses of action, the more you will feel your world is normal again. Even with only a few tracks available, much action is offered on each program and you are ready for it; so, like a starving vagrant, you are bound to become a glutton and stuff yourself with bets, as if you could make up for the time and action lost.

Take a breath, because if order comes from chaos, make no mistake about it, this is the chaotic period; order may take some time and to experience order, you will have to call upon your patience, money and the vision to move with caution.

Bettors Banquet (BB) devotes itself to the ways and means of “profit play,” which is no foil to the simple and foolish practice of playing for action. BB encourages betting, of course, but not wagering for the sake of wagering (action), which, no matter how good you think you may be at handicapping and betting, your wheels will be spinning if you start wasting your bankroll contents on mere action, when you should be aiming it at long-term profit.

“The long run be damned,” you say, “just let me at those Pick 3s and Pick 4s, 5s and 6s, and Hi-Fives and Triples and Superfectas.”

Sure, you may hit a few bets here and there. Good for you. But action play cannot be sustained, cannot be trusted, to complement your bankroll with profits when you account for your bets. You do keep a record of the money backing your bets, right? You note your wins and losses and how your bankroll is affected, right? Not if you seek mere action, I guess. That would be strange for an action player, because they would rather bet again and again than keep tabs on profit — or, more than likely, loss.

Action players usually do not even have an official “bankroll” (a specific amount of money set aside to grow through wagering). They bet out of their pockets, rarely keeping tabs on how much is in there. They bet every race and lots of different types of wagers, including multi-race exotics, using every horse that moves on huge tickets. All in all, their wagering behavior is sloppy, at best — and that’s how they play even when they are not coming off a betting blackout.

What did they do with all the time between bets? Nothing productive, I am sure, having to do with securing an amount for a bankroll and how they would manage that money for profit.

The recent harness hiatus should not have been a nail-biting case of the “jones,” cured only by jumping back into the pools when racing returned and making bets of all kinds. It should have been a period for review and preparation to smartly meet the battles to come against the enemy (other bettors).

A profit-play agenda should include stalking bets that your enemies create by playing too much or too little on particular horses, so you could pounce on a bet offering a high-percentage return and do so from any race at any track where it may be found, selecting those spots, instead of looking at the next race here or there to get some action.

Ask yourself this: Would you have taken a recess from betting had you not been locked out of wagering? Moreover, when you find yourself in a rut filled with horses finishing out of line with your packed horizontal bets or any of the countless other reasons for holding a worthless ticket, do you walk away? Or do you rationalize and play another race, hoping to “make it back” and ease the pain of losing?

If you went for the next-race scenario, I have to let you know that you should never bet pari-mutuel racing to break even. The second option is an excuse to find more action and a road to the poorhouse.

Profit players bet with the goal to win more money than they wager. They do not care about action. In fact, they pass more races than they play. And when losing streaks affect their emotions, they retreat. And after a keeping some distance from the fray, they gather their senses and return with the same goal.