This is the transcript, Chapter 2 of 4, for the Pace Makes the Race Podcast: Tournament Talk with KevRoc.
Dave Schwartz interviews Kevin Perau, discussing Tournament Strategy in this chapter!
Dave: So knowing your opponents becomes very important?
KevRoc: Oh yes. On some of the sites you’ll start to see some of the same names. You get to see whether they like chalk and what their strengths and weaknesses are. If they’re good in maiden races or not.
Dave: Forgive me to my audience, but I’m such a neophyte at this and some of you may know all of it because you play these tournaments, but we’re going to ask some handicapping questions later.
Again, I’m here with Kevin Perau. Kevin has won two entries to the Horse Player World Series since the beginning of 2016. Now, tell me this, what is the most valuable advice you could have for our audience about getting into tournament play.
KevRoc: Well, you can find a lot of free tournaments out there and free rolls, similar to poker. I always advise against that. It’s got to be worth something even if it’s just a dollar. Even if it’s just small buy-ins. I would say that’s the way you’re going to learn.
You’re only going to learn if there is real money on the table. Cause all of the bad habits and stabbing for bombs, you don’t want to get caught up in that. So, I think to start out small but with a dollar value attached to it.
Dave: So, tell me about the handicapping. How does your handicapping change?
KevRoc: Well it also changes based on the type of tournament because there are so many different kind of tournaments out there. You’ll have the basic tournament that you’ll find, the most common, will be a win-place, and it will be live play.
So you’ll be able to change your pick up until about a minute to post or up until they’re loading in the gate. Different sites have different rules on that. Usually they’ll have their own clock that will tick down that is rough to the minutes to post. So it will go right up until the minutes to post time.
Then there are other tournaments called Lockdown, Handcuff, Pick and Pray. Basically what those are is, you make all the selections before the first race goes off and then you cannot change. So my strategies really vary based on that.
If I’m playing a live one, I’m going to have, with my contenders, certain odds that I’m willing to accept. Of course I have to make those decisions on the fly looking at the tote board.
In the Handcuff games, or Lockdowns, that is where predicting the final odds is very important. You want to make those value determinations way ahead of time because you are not going to be able to change.
Dave: Sure, and, of course, players who could do that would have that advantage at the track as well.
Getting back, you said that some of the tournaments could get as long as twenty races so obviously they’re going across multiple tracks. What does the schedule that you play usually look like?
KevRoc: Because life is so busy, you have to work around your work schedule or your family schedule. Whenever I have free time I’m pretty much looking for any tournaments I can get into. I feel that with having the software, and using it for so long, and playing tournaments for so long, I feel that I am a favorite in any tournaments that I play.
Dave: And that software would be?
KevRoc: Of course, HSH.
Dave: Before we get back to asking specific questions about your handicapping, this is your opportunity to plug your favorite tournament sites. Anybody in particular that you really like?
KevRoc: Yeah there are three sites that I really concentrate on.
DerbyWars being the first one. I do feel they have the toughest competition. They also have, in my opinion, the best menu of games, the best selection. They have the big survivor games too.
Survivor would be where you just have to pick a horse to hit the board. If your horse hits the board you move on to the next race, if you don’t you’re out. They have pretty big pools in that one, so that’s a really good site.
HorseTourneys.com is another one that I play on. They have a lot of qualifying tournaments. If you’re looking to get into some of these bigger on site games, live tournaments, like the Horse Player World Series, or the NHC which is the cream of the crop, the big one. Any of the other live ones, that’s a good place to go because they have tons of qualifiers.
BetAmerica is really up and coming. They’re more ADW but they’re starting to add tournaments into the mix. There has been a lot of overlays because they’re so new. So, getting in now at the ground floor there would be a good thing, I’d recommend.
Dave: In fact, I heard that Jason Beem has interviewed you a couple of times on the BetAmerica podcast. That’s something I would strongly recommend people listen to.
KevRoc: Yeah it’s great I haven’t missed one yet. I can’t wait to meet Jason in two weeks.
Dave: That is wonderful. Okay, now let’s get to strategy here. Feel free to cut it off wherever you choose to. I know that most HSH users follow a paradigm of selecting contenders and then deciding among those contenders who to bet. They do a lot of research. Is that sort of what you do? If so, can you expand on that?
KevRoc: Yes. I definitely do that but what is important in tournaments too is that you need to look ahead. There are certain races that are key within the sequence of races that you are playing.
Let’s say the tournament is about eight races long. You may have one or two races within that sequence that you find real vulnerable favorites there. You know that the tournament is going to hinge on a couple of those longer priced plays you can make later on.
Where you don’t mind taking favorites in the other races to kind of pad your score and lean on that. You don’t want to be making selections as you go because you need to be setting up the endgame even in the very beginning.
Dave: Do you only bet one horse per race or can you bet multiple horses?
KevRoc: It’s only one selection per race. Unless you play multiple entries of course. Some tournaments will let you play more than one.
Dave: You mean you could have two KevRoc entries?
KevRoc: Right. I strongly suggest that especially in the bigger games. I mean, the small, little five or six player games of course not. In the bigger ones where you’re chasing four or five digit scores, definitely get two if you can.
Chapter 3 coming soon…
KevRoc’s Bio: Born and Raised in Brooklyn, NY. Currently living in Staten Island, NY. Married with 4 children. In my 40’s now, been handicapping since age 15. Commodities Executions Trader for 18 years, now does Inventory Control for Amazon.com. Grew up on backstretch of Aqueduct & Belmont. Spends summers at Monmouth Park. Database handicapper, has taken down numerous high stakes tournaments online. Largest pari-mutual win was $61k pick six at Hollywood Park in summer of 2006. Dual qualifier for HPWS‘16 on BetAmerica.
Play 90% contests and 10% pari-mutual nowadays. Very excited about the growth of tournaments and hope to play in more large live events in the future.
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