Click and Play

How we can play along with the picks from handicapping experts.

by Trey Nosrac

Knowing your limitations and acting within them are two different things.

Many gamblers know we are not overly proficient in the rather complex realm of wagering on harness races. We make wagers having no clue what the takeout is or the details of payout pools. Few handicappers spend hours poring over the races in programs or using computers to help predict the mystery of a horse race.

Casual gamblers are often unaware of unpublished trends involving horses or the horsepower of various stables. We often use the selections suggested by onscreen commentators who handicap races on a program for viewers and echo the numbers from on-air talent when wagering.

While some of us pretend to know it all, we know there are sharper minds in the harness horse handicapping arena. We compete against players who do more than dabble. They study and select worthwhile wagers. We would get trounced in a harness horse wagering contest with Hollywood Heyden, Darrin Zoccali, Brett Sturman, Bob Pandolfo, or Dean Towers.

However, following these five expert handicappers as they attempt to outwit each other would be a thought-provoking tussle. I would bet on it. Allow me to paint a scenario that uses this handicapping contest concept. See what you think.

Trey arrives home after clocking in after another day of doing nothing. He logs on to play a few races. As usual, there is little thought, study, or effort. Still, I fire up my laptop and log into my ADW platform to gamble on a few harness races. Why I do this is borderline masochistic. Due to my level of talent, effort, and ability, my pari-mutuel activity is akin to me stepping into an NBA basketball game to play power forward against Lebron James – for money.

Allow me to suggest an option that might level the playing field.

Imagine that when I log on to my horse gambling site, I find a homepage section with a mugshot and profile of the five gentlemen mentioned above on my screen. Below each profile will be their strategy for wagering the next three races at a racetrack. They each offer wagers on these races that total exactly $30. These handicappers must wager in each of the three races, but they can wager the $30 any way they believe optimal.

I select one of the five handicappers, say Hollywood, and click on his portrait. Automatically, his selections are my selections and get wagered through my ADW. Thirty dollars gets deducted from my existing funds. This harness racing gambling option is simple for a casual, probably preoccupied dolt and excellent for new players of any level.

Nice, but here is the fun part. For every one of us who used Hollywood’s picks, the perk is that if Hollywood beats the other four, we find an extra $10 in our account for choosing him as our avatar. The night is now a competition within a competition. We are betting on horses, and we are betting on Hollywood.

When concocting my schemes, the first thing I ask myself is – Who gets hurt?

The Old Guard of wagering? Nope, these folks can roll on as usual and try to beat the pros.

Harness racing? Nope, this plan would seem to offer the sport an opportunity to harvest more casual players.

The handicappers in the contest? Nope, they cannot hear my yelling if things go awry on the racetrack. These five fellows (and others of their ilk) could become semi-famous when people begin to calculate who statistically IS the top handicapper. Tracking the top handicappers would be fun. There could be nightly contests. There are plenty of additional possibilities with humans in the loop.

The ADW outfit? Nope, it is business as usual. I bet, and they handle the money. They might need to fiddle with the bonus money, but these bonus payouts could be a cost-effective new recruitment method.

Players like me? Nope, after all, Hollywood’s selection for wagering my thirty dollars is a massive improvement over my blind dart-throwing method. In the long run, outsourcing some of our racing selections to professional handicappers is a wise move.

My race excitement? Nope. Did you chuckle? Not only will those of us who play this still get to cheer and grumble as our horses and money race around, we now have horses to root against, and with handicappers, we have humans in play. Finally, we have someone else to blame if the wager fails.

Well, that’s my point of view. I would enjoy selecting my handicapper, cheering for OUR selections, opening a brewski, multitasking, and forgetting about heavy thinking.