Being a Horseplayer: Losing and Learning
What is a horseplayer? By definition it is a person who gambles on horse racing. That is a simplistic definition and one that does not do us players service. We are the lifeblood of the racing industry. Without our wagering dollars, our great athletes would essentially be running for ribbons. While I would still love racing even without gambling, it is the money generated from wagering that drives the sport. Gambling on horses is unique from other forms of gambling as it is not a game where the final outcome is generated by a random event on a computer, but rather the results of great athletes, the horses, and the efforts they give in each race.
Many things can drive someone to become a horseplayer. For some of us it is a passion for the horses; for others it is strictly a numbers game where the most likely winner is determined from an advanced algorithm. We all come to this game for different reasons. Betting on racing is different from other forms of gambling in that all the money in the wagering pools is a direct reflection of each person’s particular opinion on the horses in the race.
Welcome to the pari-mutuel system of betting where odds are determined not by the “house” but rather the horseplayers. The objective in our game is to have the right opinion in each race. We all like being correct and having our opinion validated. As horseplayers however, you need to realize you are going to lose more times than you win. The key is to minimize your losses until you are able to have that score that pushes you far beyond operating in the red.
Do you want to be an average horseplayer? I certainly don’t. I don’t settle for average in anything, never have, never will. Winning in this game requires discipline and work. Our game is data driven. It involves analysis, race replays, speed figures, charts, pedigree information and trainer intent. Hours studying past performances and taking trip notes. It involves money management. It’s is puzzle that I find captivating.
Being a horseplayer is about risk and reward. Knowing what races not to bet is just as important as knowing which ones to bet. Understand what bet types generate your highest ROI (return on investment). Keep records.If betting through an ADW, all this information is available to you at the click of a button. It’s no different from a pitcher knowing what his best pitch is. Use the skills you have to maximize your opinions.
Never stop learning. Remember the one guarantee in wagering is…you will lose. The best handicappers in the country have losing weekends. Does that mean they are not good horseplayers? No, it means on that particular day they lost. It could be their opinion was wrong, or the horses they bet failed to perform as they should have on paper. Remember, our athletes are not robots, they are living breathing animals and they can and do have off days. The race flow and dynamics of the race may not have suited them in that particular race. If you want to succeed long term in this game you need to understand the difference. Did you fail to cash tickets because of bad handicapping or did something happen in the race that you never could have predicted based on current form? Learn from your mistakes.
Our game is humbling. One week it seems you are picking winners every race and then the next week finding the winner is like searching for Big Foot. Try not to allow frustration to creep into your gambling mindset. Strive to improve. Heed the advice of Winston Churchill who said ,”Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Now Churchill did not say that failure would not affect your wagering bankroll, but it’s important to note to keep a positive mindset.
Keep putting in the work, and continue to develop as a horseplayer. Have the drive to persist through losses. Be a lifelong learner of the game. I have the following quote on the wall in my office “If you’re passionate about what it is you do, then you’re going to be looking for everything you can to get better at it.” I’m passionate about wagering and racing …are you?