Each week I receive many comments from handicappers all over the country who are having difficulties finding the path to their success. Recently, I spent some time looking back on some of these e-mails. In reading them I found that many of their struggles were similar to what I have experienced in my quest for horse racing success.
I’m going back several years here, but the memories are still fresh. I knew where I wanted to get to, but I didn’t know exactly what to do to get there. As a result I struggled and was frustrated, but what kept me going every day was my long-term vision of where I wanted to be.
My long-term vision inspired me to take action when I felt frustration, fear and confusion. If I could have shared this letter with the “me of years ago,” I know it would have given me the direction I needed. I hope it does the same for you.
I am not exactly sure what your specific goal is as a horseplayer. It really doesn’t matter whether you want to play on a professional level or just beat the game more frequently than you do now. What does matter is that winning at the races has a significant level of importance in your life. I appreciate your enthusiasm and ambition.
I have a couple of questions to ask you and, based on the answers, some advice on what to do next.
First, how well is your current method working for you? Is it accomplishing your horse racing goals?
If you answered, “Yes,” to this question, then you are on your way to success (if you have not already succeeded).
If you answered, “No,” to this question, then I will ask a second question:
How long have you been playing your current approach?
My experience is that the great majority of horseplayers practice what I call the “system du jour” method. That is, they try a system, playing it until they are convinced it doesn’t work, which is easily measured by the reduction in their wagering account. Then they may move on to another system, and another one after that, and another, and another.
Through the course of a year they may play their way through six or seven different approaches. Once they have exhausted all the systems they know of, and are at a loss for what to do next, they cycle back to the top of the list, playing a system they played in the past. The end result, of course, is the same: another losing year. Worse still is the frustration that comes with this process.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It is okay to change your mind; it is okay to switch away from a losing methodology. The problem is that there are no out-of-the-box winning methodologies to be found! This includes all of my products and my software as well!
That’s right! Even my stuff behaves according to the same set of rules. So, why would you buy something that doesn’t work?
First, I didn’t say it didn’t work. I said that you do not simply take it out of the box, go to the window, and expect to make profit forever, never looking back. That is simply an unrealistic expectation.
The Horseplayer Next-Door
Imagine there is a successful horseplayer who lives next door to you. He makes his living at the races, lives very well, and seems to have all that he needs. You wish you could do what he does.
You decide to approach your neighbor to ask for help in your personal quest for profit at the races. You tell him what you want to do and ask for his help. He offers to spend a full Saturday afternoon with you explaining what he does. You schedule the following Saturday to spend with him, fully immersed in learning how to win.
Think about this for a moment. What is your true expectation here? Do you truly expect that the following Saturday you will suddenly become profitable forever? Do you truly expect that one four-hour session is all you need?
Even if your neighbor could transfer sufficient knowledge to you in just four hours, is it realistic to expect that he would be willing to simply hand over the results of his years of hard work and learning just like that?
Your neighbor’s intentions are good and you will benefit from what he teaches you. However, you probably have more to learn than can be taught in a four-hour session.
The way I see it, you should view this four-hour class as a starting point. Consider it a roadmap to where you want to go, where the direction, as well as the first part of the journey, has been plotted for you. Ultimately, you must complete the journey yourself.
The Roadmap: Part Two
So now you have completed your Saturday afternoon appointment. You have directions to get you started and the first few waypoints on the map have been marked.
If you are the typical player, you have your next system du jour. After a couple of weeks of play, you cannot help but notice that you are still losing. “But I’m doing it just like he told me to do!”
If this were a true story, it would have several potential endings:
- The handicapper says, “This system does not work. My neighbor must be lying.”
- The handicapper says, “This system does not work. My neighbor didn’t tell me everything.”
- The handicapper says, “This system does not work. I have to look for another one that does.”
- The handicapper says, “This system does not work, but I perhaps I can make it work.”
Which of the above responses would you choose?
I doubt there is a single person reading this message who would admit to either of the first two responses, although clearly there are people who think that way. (I have the e-mails to prove it.)
The majority of horseplayers I have met would fall into response number three. The system did not show profit, therefore it is of no use to this handicapper, and the search for the Holy Grail continues.
Becoming a Type 4 Handicapper
So, we finally get to the point of this message.
I have taking you down this path because… Well, think of it as four hours on a Saturday afternoon to address the question you have asked many times over: “How do I become a winning player?”
The best single answer I can give you can be summed up as a single phrase:
Continuity of Action
Winning at the races is the end result of many small, incremental improvements. Sometimes a single improvement may result in a huge difference to the bottom line. In such a case, it may appear that the ultimate success was the result of this single change when, in reality, it was all of the changes compounded upon one another that produced the success. It gives credence to the following quote:
“It took me 30 years to become an overnight success.”
Look back at the four responses again. The first three indicate a lack of willingness to do the necessary work to become profitable. At least the third one indicates a willingness to do something. Unfortunately, it is the wrong thing.
Since I am using so many metaphors in this message, I would liken the third response to prospecting for gold by walking through the desert, head bent downward, hoping to find a pile of gold. One could walk around like that for years and never discover a gold mine, although it is possible that you might stub your toe on a nugget now and then. The only way to find gold in the desert is to dig for it.
Pick a method. Maybe the one you are working on now, or maybe one from the past that you thought had promise. If you have no idea, where to begin, the next part of this message may provide the answer.
Take this method and commit to making it work. Find out what is broken and fix it.
That means, work on why it is failing and figure out what you need to add to make it work better, understanding that “better” might not be “good enough.” It might take several rounds of improvement before “better” becomes “good enough.”