The Basics of Winning
The nature of horse racing is that it’s a tough game. Of course you knew that. But why is it so tough?
Is it because the takeout is so high? Or are there deeper reasons? What role does our highly emotional human nature play in making the game more difficult? What is missing from your game that, if you added it, would lift you to a whole new level?
In order to win at the horse game, one must learn to separate the process into two distinct phases: the handicapping phase and the wagering (exploitation) phase. In addition, one must realize that phases are of equal importance.
Anthony Robbins likes to say that most people spend 95% of the time on a problem and only 5% of the time on the solution. This is very close to how people view horse racing; 90+% of their effort goes into handicapping and whatever is left goes into figuring out how to wager the race. In my opinion, this is the number one reason that so many good handicappers struggle to win at the races.
When people look to improve their game the first place they look is to improve their handicapping. Perhaps your handicapping is just fine. Perhaps you have mastered that part of the game. Think back in recent history. Haven’t there been several occasions of you handicapping a high-priced horse near the top but decided not to bet him?
When I coach players I see this all the time. I believe the root problem is that they want to feel very good about all of their bets. That is, they need to feel that every horse they wager upon is the best horse in the race. In other words, they are attempting to answer the question, “Who will win this race?” The question they should be asking is, “Who can win this race?” There is a world of difference in those two questions.
The first question leads you consistently to lower prices, while the second question opens you up to all kinds of opportunities.
It all begins with a good contender process. You need a contender selection approach that is tight enough to capture most of the low-priced winners but still loose enough to capture a significant number of the high-priced winners as well.
How can you tell if your contender process is working? The answer lies in a good set of “metrics.” That is, an effective way of measuring contender performance. While it is impressive to say, “My top four horses win 80% of the time,” that doesn’t really tell us enough. What if your normal contender selection almost always includes the top for public choices? In that case, your contenders would actually be underperforming.
After you have a strong contender process in place, you need to determine your “sweet spot” odds range. That is, at what range of odds are you beating the game solidly? Everyone’s sweet spot will be different, although there are common patterns. My personal sweet spot begins at 9/2 and goes up to 17/1. Above the sweet spot I am highly profitable, but my hit rate falls through the floor.
Okay, so now you get a small commercial message. (From me.)
Handicappers, listen up!
Are you tired of struggling to beat the game?
Would you like to become tough to beat?
Would you like to enjoy the races more than you do now?
Do you change strategies every other week?
Do you sometimes wonder why you even play the game?
I can help with all of the above.