Iâ€™m your host, Dave Schwartz, responÂsiÂble for just about everyÂthing on this site. This is a place for me to rant about handÂiÂcapÂping to my heartâ€™s conÂtent. Rest assured that this is not another blog about whatâ€™s wrong with racÂing (although there is plenty), who the greatÂest horse of all time is (clearly SecÂreÂtariat) or how great my prodÂucts are (yes, I sell stuff). This site is about handicapping!
I was born in Ft. LaudÂerdale, Florida and grew up in HolÂlyÂwood, just a few miles from GulfÂstream Park and even closer to Calder. The South Florida of the 1960s was full of gamÂbling in spite of the many â€œblue lawsâ€ still in effect back then. My father once owned a gamÂbling house in NiaÂgara Falls and was a very savvy gamÂbler. His belief was that all males will evenÂtuÂally be introÂduced to gamÂbling in one form or another and that it was betÂter to win than to lose. ThereÂfore, he set out to arm me with as much gamÂbling knowlÂedge as posÂsiÂble. I like to say that I was raised with a pair of dice in one hand and a deck of cards in the other.
I was a preÂcoÂcious child. It is probÂaÂbly safe to say that I was the only child in my 3rd grade class that could explain why there was only one way to win a hard eight and ten ways to lose or that the house advanÂtage on roulette was 5.26%. Although teachÂing a young child how to gamÂble is not someÂthing I agree with, it cerÂtainly armed me with a difÂferÂent perÂspecÂtive on life.
When I was nine, a friend of my fatherâ€™s came to visit. He asked, “Can the kid deal?â€ I said, â€œSure!â€ and proÂceeded to illusÂtrate by dealÂing cards around the table much as any nine-year old would do.
â€œHeâ€™s got the cards in the wrong hand!â€ says the friend. â€œNo, this is the way I do it,â€ I replied.
My father told me to put the deck into the other hand and never deal right-handed again. Seven years later, when I was workÂing my way through high school dealÂing blackÂjack at an illeÂgal casino in Miami, I would come to underÂstand that it is a big advanÂtage for a blackÂjack dealer to be left-handed because it was easÂier to see the top card (before it is dealt).
Mine was not a norÂmal childhood.
Dave Schwartz, Gambler
At sevÂenÂteen I was a colÂlege student/pool player, at eighÂteen a beginÂning card counter and at nineÂteen a solÂdier. After the milÂiÂtary and a stint in the life insurÂance busiÂness, I found myself in the most logÂiÂcal of places for me: Las Vegas. It was there that my skill at card countÂing brought my first real gamÂbling sucÂcess. I was very tough to beat because I could not be cheated. (â€œIt takes one to know oneâ€ is an applicÂaÂble axiom here.) When you remove cheatÂing and unethÂiÂcal pracÂtices from the game of blackÂjack it begins to look like it does on the dinÂing room table.
After about 18 months of play and rackÂing up about $500k in profÂits (a lot of money in the 1970s) I found my blackÂjack career over. I simÂply could not find a game to play.
1978, My Year of the Horse
By now the die was cast (so to speak), so I looked for someÂthing else to beat.
I conÂsidÂered sports betÂting, but theÂoÂrized that, after winÂning for a couÂple of years I could easÂily find myself unable to make a bet just as with blackÂjack. The thought of going through all that again and windÂing up barred was just intolÂerÂaÂble. Horse racÂing was the logÂiÂcal choice. At least they donâ€™t bar you from the track for winning.
The year was 1978 and micro comÂputÂers were brand new. I was sure that about six months of runÂning data through my Apple comÂputer would yield me a winÂning sysÂtem and a lifeÂtime of income.
Nine years later, in 1987, I became profÂitable for the first time. Along the way I had become a full-fledged comÂputer proÂfesÂsional. By then I also had a famÂily and was supÂportÂing myself as a craps and blackÂjack dealer in Reno (a much nicer place to live than Las Vegas) and doing comÂputer conÂsultÂing on the side. I decided that the time was right for me to become a full-time player and for over a year I supÂported myself betÂting the horses every day.
It was a tough time. In the raceÂbook at 6:30am to get ready for the dayâ€™s races, playÂing all day and returnÂing home each night around 10:30pm after the late races. I recall startÂing each month with about $600-$800. At the end of the month I would grind out just enough money to pay the bills and start the next month with about the same bankroll. I worked very hard at â€œnot working.â€
Dave Schwartz, Horse RacÂing Businessman
In 1989 I decided to take the two things I enjoyed most in the world, horse racÂing and comÂputÂers, and put them together in a busiÂness. The folÂlowÂing spring, in April, 1990, I released my first comÂmerÂcial softÂware prodÂuct, ThoroÂBrain, a neural netÂwork handÂiÂcapÂping tool. I designed and wrote the neural net myself, an espeÂcially difÂfiÂcult feat because at the time I had never heard of a neural netÂwork. Years later I found out that what I had writÂten was called a â€œcomÂpetiÂtorâ€ netÂwork. MY work preÂdated the other comÂpetiÂtor netÂworks by at least two years. Not bad for an un-papered, two-fingeredÂ typist. Â (StartingÂ with â€œThoroÂBrain Vâ€ the name belonged toÂ someoneÂ else. That is, it was not my software.)
Over the years I have writÂten many difÂferÂent artiÂfiÂcial intelÂliÂgence approaches to handÂiÂcapÂping. I have writÂten genetic algoÂrithms, my version of swarm intelÂliÂgence and, most recently, deciÂsion marÂket processes, all of which exist in our curÂrent softÂware, The HorsÂeSÂtreet Handicapper.
I have written 28 books, includingÂ Percentages & Probabilities, 2012,Â Horse Market Investing, andÂ The Opponent Method. In addition, there is my annual book,Â The HorseStreet Par Times, published every March. My par times, first released in 1991, are the standard for track-to-track adjustments today.