This post began as a topic on The Horse Handicapping Authority Facebook page. Alan Horvath, a very accomplished handicapper that I follow on FB, asked this question:
Race tactics vs. long-term wagering strategy: Which is more important?
I gather it depends on who we’re talking about. For example, a guy who goes to the track once a year, it would be tactics (although it would help if he walked in with a strategy too).
Or, does it go deeper than that? Is one prone to eventual failure, no matter how strong their tactics, if they do not have a long-term wagering strategy?
That is a great topic for conversation, Alan. I think it has to begin with an understanding of the difference between “strategy” and “tactics.”
“Strategy is also about attaining and maintaining a position of advantage over adversaries through the successive exploitation of known or emergent possibilities rather than committing to any specific fixed plan designed at the outset.”
“A tactic is a conceptual action implemented as one or more specific tasks. The term is common in business and military usage, as well as in chess, sports, and protests.”
So, “Strategy” could be described as the PLAN OF ACTION to achieve a particular goal and “Tactics” are the EXPEDIENT ACTIONS we take towards achieving that goal.
In other words, STRATEGY is looking at the map while driving from San Francisco to New York, and TACTICS are figuring out how to get through (or around) Chicago.
STRATEGY is about the long-term goal – it is the WHAT.
TACTICS are the HOW.
STRATEGY is about LONG-TERM.
TACTICS are about today.
STRATEGY is about the management and growth of my bankroll.
TACTICS are about how I bet this race.
Then, it sounds like strategy is just as important for the casual player. It’s just relative. For them, the long-term wagering strategy would cover X amount of races (or perhaps 10 hours, etc).
I think it goes deeper than that. The “casual player” has no STRATEGY. Each day exists as a stand-alone entry in his life. He only has TACTICS.
That is, he plays his races, his goal is to have a good time and maybe make some money.
That is far different than the player with a long-term goal.