personality traits and winning and losing
the book "A Bettor Way" - published 2005)
one insight that applies to every punter: Your personality has as
much to do with how you will bet as any other factor you encounter
at the track.
Why? If you can't
stomach losing and hate risk, even if it leads to long-term rewards,
you can't realistically expect measurable profit. You need to assess
your temperament before adopting a wagering strategy.
Your betting might
be characterised as much ado about nothing, or just for the fun of
it. This book groups this kind of punter into the “risk-averse”
Betting is, inherently
a risky business, so a big challenge will be learning to accept or
even welcome that risk. Within the handicapping arena, risk-averse
punters may be comforted when their pick is at unusually low odds,
instead of seeing this as a negative in the quest to make profit.
This is all relative. A risk-averse handicapper is still much more
comfortable with risk than the typical risk-averse citizen, who may
stuff money into a mattress or only invest in the very safest choices.
The other extreme
is someone who can't visit a wagering facility without succumbing
to the desire to “Let It Ride” and take one big chance
before leaving. This player would go HOME broke repeatedly without
applying some strong self control. This group is referred to as the
high-risk category, very comfortable with the most aggressive of risks.
For the Risk-Averse Punter
For the risk-averse
punter, underlays and favorites are not the answer. Punters that feel
uncomfortable with a lot of risk are vulnerable to playing underlays.
Vulnerable, due to a self-imposed mental barrier when the logic used
to pick bets is:
the favorite, and of all the horses is the most likely to win. How
can I bet against the most likely winner? It must be the best choice
to make a winning bet. You have to pick winners to cash tickets, and
you have to cash tickets to make money.”
This seems like
flawless logic. Nevertheless, the favorite may be more likely to win
than any other horse, but is still more likely to lose than win.
Using this kind
of logic, the risk-averse punter – more than anyone else –
finds it hard to pass a likely winner at unacceptably low odds
– if the punter in this category pauses to consider whether
or not the odds are acceptable. Rather than pass the 6-to-4 favourite
that should be 2-to-1, the 6-to-4 odds are taken as a reassurance
that “You are more on track than you even thought you were.”
Way For the Risk-Averse
punter who really intends to make money needs to do one thing: migrate
away from underlaid contenders towards high probability, fair value
situations. Learn to pick and choose situations that have a high probability
of winning but still offer fair value relative to the chances of winning.
It is feasible to accept wagers at low odds as long as the chance
of collecting on the bet remains solid. For example, getting 6-to-4
odds on something with a 50 percent chance of occurring is a huge
value ($2 bet for $5 returned 50 percent of the time equals $5 for
every $4 bet, 25-percent profit) and cashing tickets will be a common
Rather than accept
underlays and console yourself with the knowledge that you have the
majority opinion, look for anything with reliable value such as:
maiden races, any horse who last finished second.
returning to their previous winning distance
These are just
a sample of long-term, high win-percentage situations. Through your
regular research, you can uncover many others. They may not lead to
big win prices very often, but the betting public does have its occasional
misread leading to a big payoff. Knowing that you are playing scenarios
that frequently yield winners will help you resist the “underlaid-but-still-likeliest
winner” plays that are the undoing of many risk-averse players
over the long haul.
For Risk-Averse Punters
will be helped in the long run if the following concepts are kept
in mind to key on value and profitability:
– Even if
playing long shots is not your style, there are plenty of opportunities
to find overlays even at modest odds. A horse who should be 4-to-5
and pays 2-to-1 is a more than 100-percent overlay.
a list of highly successful scenarios to look for. One to two dozen
such angles can be enough of a portfolio to find several reasonable
value bets each day.
– Set aside
a small percentage of your daily bankroll for exotics. These can be
used to supplement a “best bet” win bet. If you handicap
the race right and win, it is always nice to turn a base hit into
a HOME run.
Measures For the High-Risk Punter: Controlling the Fever
High risk does
not imply educated risk. High risk does not imply calculated risk.
“Wild stabbing” is a better description if this is your
strategy for betting success, recklessly endangering your bankroll.
This section is
geared for the person who is time and again lured by potential payoffs…who
watches the TV screen looking for huge sums, and fabricates hypothetical
situations that could produce those outcomes. Fabricating, because
the person practically has to invent the scenario to make it sound
For the typical
high-risk player, the handicapping factors that matter most are whichever
ones help the case of the selections he has in mind to produce a real
These are people
who fall in love with horses they would not have considered contenders
the night before. Stinging from a loss, they may look to the next
race to redeem themselves. They may go after a long shot with little
chance or plunge too heavily on undervalued exotics. These handicappers
love two horse exactas and doubles. Putting two “good ones”
together and offering twice what a win bet will pay seems like a gift
to them – even if the chances of success are far less than the
odds would seem to indicate.
The sad part for
many of these players is that once they are down, their focus never
seems to shift to more reasonable propositions. Someone in this category
who starts his day with $100 and already lost $75 of it, is not likely
to see the 3-to-1 shot in the next race that should be 6-to-4 as an
opportunity for a win bet of $15. If the horse wins at these value
odds, he would cash for $60 and be a long ways back to even. It is
more likely that the $15 will be invested in exactas and trifectas
with long shots that will probably lose and cost the punter a perfect
chance to back a solid prospect.
Eavesdrop at the
track before the last race of the afternoon and you will hear some
of the most incredible fantasy suppositions imaginable.
5 horse steps up and runs with the favorite early, they may both weaken,
and then the 2 should finish better, and go outside both of them,
which will hang him wide when the favorite tires and drifts out. That
will set up my 7 horse to drop to the rail and come up on the inside,
which the 7's jockey usually never does, but the 7 is wearing blinkers
and that will keep him running straight as a string up the rail. So
the jock's got to try to go through there. And with the favorite tiring
and the 5 all done, the 2 and the favorite will complete the trifecta.”
Now there's over-thinking
a race, and there's over-thinking a race.
If you find yourself
constructing complex if-this-then-that scenarios to justify how your
exotic bets will work out, you are over-thinking it.
punters would use that $20 weighted heavily toward the exotics, with
maybe $5 to win and $15 in exotics. The horse may win and the exotics
still lose (after all, it's harder to hit the exotic). It is that
fantasy of the “Mission Impossible” scenario all falling
into place – “The 3 does this and the 5 does this and
the favorite does that...” – that lures people away from
reasonable or sensible or logical alternatives. A value horse to win
may stare you right in the face, and you may not see it because you
are focusing on who will run second and third and fourth and fifth.
Way For the High-Risk Punter
If a high-risk
punter intends to make money over time, it is important to capitalise
on value opportunities with higher chances of hitting, usually through
win bets. If planning to bet $20 on exotics using a key long shot,
regularly bet $5 to win on that long shot. Being close on a handful
of exotics tickets is not as rewarding as money in your wallet at
the end of the day, and a small win bet will often cover the money
bet on exotics.
For High-Risk Punters
will be better served in the long run if the following steps are kept
in mind to avoid chasing rainbows:
– If trying
to make a “big score,” identify the opportunities before
the day begins, not with 3 minutes to go before they jump.
– Make sure
that long-term win betting is profitable before you test your skills
on exotics. If your win-bet selections are not profitable over
time, your exotic plays are even less likely to win.
prefer a win pool overlay to a chance for an exotics score. If a horse
you strongly feel has a 33-percent chance of winning is at 12-to-1,
bet it to WIN! So what if the exacta and tri will-pays are huge? Your
opportunity to cash on this overlay shouldn't be foiled by other runners
not fulfilling their part of your exacta or tri tickets.
A Bettor Way can be ordered at www.xlibris.com/ABettorWay.html
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