The Hidden Costs of Freebie Comps

topics gambling seniors fixed income gambling industry casinos ...If you’ve been living under a rock, or been stuck on a remote island. Gambling is at a fever pitch. No, not that gooey-love-story chic flick. The fast paced world of gaming is growing outside of the box, and I don’t think we’ll ever get it back inside. I have had the pleasure of speaking with racing handicappers over the years and the million dollar question is “Do the tracks want us to lose our money so they can get rich?” Not so fast there Quick Draw. After all said and done, take in the whole story and decide for yourself.

Casinos have been around since the glory days of the Rat Pack in Vegas, and Atlantic City offered up the first volleys of junkets to get you fed, drinking, and gambling for days and then jet you back home with a significant weight loss. You don’t have to go very far these days, and within 40 miles of my home there are four casinos, two racinos, three race tracks, and the lottery. Oh, and toss in charitable bingo and church festivals who look to keep the coffers filled. Here’s an idea we could employ to stop civil wars, and terroristic warfare. Let’s drop mobile casinos complete with restaurants and top notch games of chance. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that its hard to shoot a gun while pulling the one-arm bandit, or filling your plate at the all-you-can-eat.

According to Al Moe gambling expert for About Home:

The most important influence on casino handle is what is referred to as “time on device.” Regardless of what is bet, if there are no players, there is no handle and no profit. Casinos maximize their income when they find ways to increase not just their house edge, but the average bet AND the amount of time each gaming device (table spot or slot machine) is in action.

As a business model, the overall handle is a product of capacity of use, game speed, and average bet. This is why all club comps are based on your average bet and the hours played, not on how much you win or lose!

A casino with 1000 slot machines is only successful if they are in constant use. However, the utilization of game space and betting minimums at table games can be deceiving. This is why it is rare to see a blackjack game with a low $2 or $5 minimum, even if players are wandering around wanting to play that amount while there are several $25 tables with no players.

This phenomenon is best explained by the math produced for expected win per hour at a blackjack table. With six players betting $2 per hand, a dealer can get out 375 hands to the players. The total wagers (excluding double downs and splits) will equal $750 and the house expects to win 2 percent, or $15. However, just a single player at a $25 table will produce $4,125 in bets per hour where the house expects to win 2 percent and a total of $82.

Obviously the $25 game will be dead at times, but that single player easily makes up the difference, and if all the tables have low limits and there are no seats available for the big better then the house is losing out.

So, some decisions at your local casino are made for player comfort to extend the amount of time played, and some decisions are made simply based on casino income, as with any business. The above example also probably illustrates pretty well why a $5 blackjack player can only expect to earn about 30-cents per hour in comp value from their play.

The casino expects the player to get 60 hands per hour, so their total bets per hour equals $120. Using the same 2 percent house edge, the casino will retain about $2.40 from their play. Giving back 30-cents equals a comp value of 12.5 percent, which is pretty good. Most casinos hold the line between 10 and 15 percent.

This takes me back to the movie where Bugsy Siegel brings back a sign from a Nevada gas station that has slot machines inside. It read, “You can play longer.” Translation, you’ll lose your shirt, but it will only be when your butt is getting numb from sitting on the seat.

One of my favorite beliefs of casino slot players is the 98% payback. Now, that is not 98% payback in the form of jackpots, but you’ll get a coin or two at an overall 98% rate. Just think, you wager $5 and get back 75-cents. They lived up to the bill, and you did get paid, but it was not in the form you had in mind.

According to Frank Legato of Casino Center: “Payback percentage” is one of the most misunderstood terms in the casino industry. Many players think it means how much of the money they put in a game that will come back to them in jackpots. Others think that the casino has a switch somewhere that officials can throw to lower the payback percentage on the machine they are playing, to cut down on winnings. Both of these assumptions are incorrect, and both are part of the circle of myth and misinformation that surrounds the slot machine. For the record, “payback percentage” refers to the portion of all wagers placed into a slot machine or group of slot machines that is returned to any and all players—not just you—who enter money into the machine or machines. In the case of the “Loosest Slots” issue, the payback percentages are based on actual statistics reported to regulatory agencies by the casinos. They represent the total amount of wagers placed in slot machines over a year that was returned to the players in the form of jackpots, segmented into various denominations.

Thoroughbred Racing, Harness Racing, Greyhound Racing, and Jai-Alai want you to win. Yes, you heard it correctly. They want you to win, and win big! Pari-mutuel wagering is set up a bit differently. Tracks are set up with a takeout rate. This fluctuates from state-to-state, and the exotic wagers have a different percentage than win, place, and show. In Ohio, the WPS percentage is 18%. That means there is 18 cents taken from every dollar wagered, and the rest is paid back to the players. No random numbers, lucky rolls, or hidden jackpots. The monies collected are split in half. 9 cents of every dollar goes to purse money for the horsemen, and the other 9 cents goes to the tracks for taxes, wagers, improvements, promotions, and salaries. That is a pretty slim margin, and now you know why tracks have needed the casino industry. Casinos offer glitz, glamour, and free comps. This allows racing to stay afloat in the meantime, and hopefully catch its breath.

According to Bill Burton, Casino Gambling Expert: Pari-mutuel betting is credited to Pierre Oller a French perfume shop keeper who in 1865 had the idea in to sell tickets on a horse race and keep all the proceeds in a common prize pool to be split amongst the winners. (Pari-mutuel means betting between ourselves) After the race was over Pierre would take a five percent handling charge and then distribute the rest to bettors based on the odds established by the bets made on each horse. Pierre set up his wagering system in the racing parks and by 1887 pari-mutuel wagering became the legalized form of betting in France.

Around 40 years later in 1927 after proposals led by Sir Winston Churchill, the English Parliament passed legislation establishing pari-mutuel wagering as the legal betting system at all tracks in the country. Around the same time pari-mutuel wagering was adopted at race track in the United States.
Around that time a young engineer name Henry Straus left a Maryland racetrack angry over the payoff he received during a race. He bet a horse with posted odds of 12-1 but only collected 4-1 on his winning ticket. At the time there was much corruption at track around the country as odds were calculated by hand. Straus along with some fellow engineers founded the American Totalisator company (AmTote) and invented an electro-mechanical device which would accurately calculate the odds of a race and assure an honest payout while displaying the odds on a lager electronic board. The first machine was installed at Pimlico race track in 1930.

Today the odds are calculated by faster computers and the tracks may take a slightly bigger percentage of the pool but pari-mutuel betting remains the same as it was over 100 years ago.

Time is of the essence. Racing has always allowed time in-between races, and you can catch your breath. I have always liked to relish a win and have a little time to decide which race I would play next. Time allows you to take it in and enjoy, and it is more of a cerebral game. I would like to think we have a little thought in our wagers. Whether you’re betting #5 in the 5th, the old grey nag, or the one who takes a dump on the track. You have time, and it can be on your side. You may decide to make a good wager a little later and grab a hot dog and a beer. Gab with some buddies and keep your head. The old saying of “bet with your head and not over it” echoes in the back of my noggin when I want to pick up the pace and follow the casino chase. The takeout alone allows you to see where the money is going and there is nothing random about how the track makes their money. – So, the next time you and the little lady want to spend the evening out enjoying a little “gaming.” – Think about betting the races. The beauty and pageantry is second to none, and I’ll bet you have never heard a player scream at the top of their lungs for two minutes straight at a slot machine. Unless they are begging for their kids college money back, and asking the machine for gas money for the ride home.

Commandments of Wagering

Clouds parted and thunder rolled. Something big was about to happen, and it would change the way gamblers would look at wagering forever. No more would we curse the darkness and wonder why the universe exacted payback for our mistakes. From this day forth, gamblers from all walks would have a guideline of how to ruin a good streak of luck.

Maybe it’s not as fire and brimstone as mentioned above, but gamblers now have an idea on how we can be our worst enemy. We all are guilty of one or more offenses, and if you cannot put yourself in any category. Just keep playing, and you’ll find yourself in a jackpot wondering how you deviated from the road of prosperity. Here are some golden rules that you may want to employ before making your next wager.


1. – Thou shall not lend money at the track. Usually about the time you are on a roll, you’ll have an old friend come up and ask to borrow some cash until payday. Now, they may be good for the loan, but from that point forward you might as well walk to the car. You’re done for the day.

2. – Thou shall not brag about the big win. You waited all day, and hammered the runner the public overlooked. The cash comes in wrapped bundles, and you can’t fit them into your pocket. The winning wasn’t enough or either was having the gold. You had to tell the tale on how you took down the big score. The Wagering Gods hate a bragger, and see #1 on what to do at this point of the day.

3. – Thou shall not borrow money to gamble. This is known as “dead money,” and you are better off going fishing or to the movies with borrowed money.

4. – Thou shall not try to bet your way out of the hole. We all have bad days, weeks, or years. There will be better days, but sometimes we are not content on waiting. We double up and try to win our way out of the wagering funk. The Wagering Gods hate a glutton. “The pigs get fatter, and the hogs get slaughtered.” Guess which one you will be?

5. – Thou shall not blame others for our loss. It was traffic, the lady reading the program in line, the jockey must have been out all night drinking. If you hear this little voice in your head, know that a money beating is soon to follow.

6. – Thou shall not put gambling before family, friends, or loved ones. If you find yourself telling the big fib to your wife, or the can’t make it into work because I’m sick tale. It is over before it starts. - Wait for another day, and you’ll be a happier horseplayer in the long run.

7. – Thou shall not wager on a hot tip, or inside information. First, there is no Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, or Tooth Fairy. Second, there is no such thing as the above mentioned items. If you had inside info, would you tell others to knock down your payout? If the tip was hot, why would you tell anyone who will tell thousands of others. You can find inside info at every track. You’ll see that 10-1 shot drop to 3-5 on the first flash. If it is not, the public will assume it is and jump on the bandwagon.

8. – Thou shall do your own homework. Don’t take the word of Joe the barber, Tommy the tout, or Gus the bookie. Do your own work, or seek the guidance of a professional service who does this daily and posts their stats for the world to see.

9. – Thou shall not use bill money or your mom’s birthday present cash to make a wager. If so, you are dead in the water before you start.

10. – Thou shall enjoy the game, be kind to fellow players, and keep a positive attitude. If you fail to obey the above rules, you’ll be condemned to bet from your basement on an old computer, and grind out long slow losing streaks.

It may not be as bad as told, or it could be right on the money. It is up to you to follow the methods of the proven gamblers, or you will have to suffer the consequences the hard way. You’re call. If you think this is just smoke and mirrors. The next time you’re at the track, watch for any of the above mentioned mistakes that will drag you into the worst betting funk of your life.

Summer Camp / Place Parlay Update

There was nothing like camp. Hanging out with friends, school was a million miles away, and the days seemed to last forever. The summer sun on our face, and the sweaty shirts that dotted the ground as makeshift bases for our ball games. If you listen real close, you’ll hear the sound of kids laughing in the distance. The feeling was incredible, as we didn’t have a care in the world.

Saratoga marks the start of summer racing. There is plenty of solid action and turf racing is in full-swing. But there is something about the magic of the “Spa.” The 150th season is underway, and the horses have been pointed this way for quite sometime. Just like when we kids, the summer heat is only celebrated for short while. So grab a glass of ice tea, and find cool place in the shade. The summer is just about to heat up.

Some of the best riders and trainers in the country will converge on Saratoga Springs. Here are a few to keep in mind before you make you’re way to the windows:

Javier Castellano, John Velasquez, Joel Rosario, Jose Ortiz, Junior Alvarado, and Lanfranco Dettori and famous flying dismounts. Spot riders such as Jose Lezcano on the turf, Julien Leparoux on any closer, Cornelio Velazquez for Linda Rice, and new comers Taylor Rice and Corey Lanerie  looking to make their mark.

Wesley Ward, Bill Mott, Graham Motion, Michelle Nevin, Mike Maker, and anything  Todd Pletcher or Chad Brown saddles. Look for Rudy Rodriquez off the claim, D. Wayne Lukas with layoff runners, and Christophe Clement with any runner that is entered on the weeds.

Pay attention to Belmont and Churchill runners, and horses coming off extended layoffs for sharp run-back barns. Look for works over the deep Oklahoma training track, and first timers for trainers who excel with their babies. Saratoga is the place to make your mark, and the connections know that winning one race at the “Spa” is like winning 10 at Belmont.

Read the charts. – You’ll find great value with runners coming off a trouble laden trips, and be sure to search the PP’s for inner turf specialists who may excel with the tighter turns. Don’t hesitate to pull the trigger on nay big price runner for a “name” conditioner who is winning 20% or better on the year. Give extra credit to rider/trainer combos who are 20% as a team. You’ll need to do your homework and be sure to read the charts to follow an erupting bias or runners who enjoy a surface with a little “bounce” or “give” to it following a rain.


Saratoga was the target for our betting group. We made a few targeted wagers, and have $1,655 to make selected Winning Ponies E-Z Win plays. For day #2, we like two plays on the Saratoga card.

Race #7 – The (G-3) Sanford Stakes – 6f -4:10 pm EST

$400 to place on #9 – Cinco Charlie (2-1) = Impressive winner of the Bashford Manor at CD, and sports the ” Should Improve” handicapping icon.

Race #10 – The (G-1) Diana – 1 1/8 on the inner turf – 5:46 pm EST

$200 to place on #9 – Stephanie’s Kitten (6-1) = Frankie Dettori up for Chad Brown, and she has a field best Turf Class Rating of 48.2, and a 69+ Last Race Rating.

It is time to open up the wagering, and take our shot. We’ll use the top Winning Ponies E-Z Win Form selection, and they have helped us start off with a profit coming into the meet. Winning Ponies has a great record with the oval and we are looking forward to some big days in the summer sun! Best of luck this weekend, and we’ll keep you up-to-speed with our progress.

Tools of the Trade / Handicapping Update

by Ed Meyer

posted on July 14, 2014 in General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

Has anyone ever tried their hand at playing in a contest? If the answer is yes, you’ll definitely know there is a difference between playing for money and trying to take down the big score. If there was ever a day when lightning struck, it was my first handicapping contest. I was playing at Trackside OTB in Louisville, and Churchill Downs put on a first class show. I started my day with a $40 winner on both of my cards, and from that point I cruised home to victory. The payday was a sweet $10,000 for first prize, and accommodations for two for Bally’s Casino where the NTRA / DRF Championship was to be held. I was elated to say the least, but the most important lesson that this gambler could ever learn was that the difference of playing for money and contest play are not the same animal.

Calder was first up, and BANG! A $40 payoff for my two separate entries. Its always good to get the jump on the others. When they look up at the leader board, they’ll start thinking about playing catch-up. Good starts usually have good endings. That was my case, and it had a super ending. To this day, playing in contests has always been in my blood.

Winning Ponies offers up a great tool to make your day more competitive. When playing in a contest where the cap price is usually 20-1 on your win wager, and 10-1 for your place. – Most formats employ this type of play, but there are a hundred different versions where you have live money formats with no cap, and you get to keep your winnings in addition to the prize money. Some have 5 designated races, and 5 races of your choice. Anyhow you slice it up, there is one fact that has held well  for players. You cannot play anything under 5-1. This applies to about 90% of the contests with the exception of multi-day events where your score is carried over to the next day. Just keep in mind the 5-1 rule, and you’ll keep ahead of the game. Trust me, I have won three races in a row with a 2-1 shot, and other players blow me right off the map with one 12-1 shot winner. Just keep that in mind and we’ll start from there.

Winning Ponies E-Z Win Forms has a tiered level of selections. They have their top plays, middle plays, and third ranked selections. The real bonus is that the top selections are not always the chalk ! – Yep, you may have a crisp 10-1 shot right there in the color coded tiers that stop your search right there. You may find the tier levels may not have that price you’re searching for, and this is where you can scan the color coded tier levels to examine a runner that fits your needs. It’s not a contest to see who picks the most winners. It’s about handicapping, and money / odds management. Paying attention to the odds is just as important as who you like in the race.

I have always used the 5-1 rule of thumb for one day contests. – Now, with that being said, it doesn’t apply to multi-day contests. Winning Ponies may have a sweet priced runner in the top tier that fits your needs. They have detailed past performance information, jockey / trainer stats, handicapping icons to alert you to changes. Oh, and don’t forget the most important part. WP has one-of-a-kind Race Ratings for that race, Composite Rating for the past three races, and a Turf Class Rating if the race is carded for the weeds. Not only will Winning Ponies show you who they select, but they have detailed numerical data to support their decisions. If you’re still not sold, you can follow along in real time to get up-to-the-minute results as soon as the race becomes official. You will see who they select, and how they’re doing. If you decide to jump in later in the card, you will only be charged for the races you use versus other data providers who charge for the entire card even if there if one race left on the card. – You are able to take charge of your handicapping by deciding when and who to wager. You can follow along and jump in when ready, or maybe your schedule does not allow for early handicapping but will afford you time later in the day. Either way, Winning Ponies is your full service data provider.


Place Parlay Update


For those who have been following along, I have entered in with two handicapping partners. We started with $1,200, and so far have a $655 profit. There were two place wagers we decided to make on Sunday, and here is where we stand on 7/14/14.

Race #1 – 5f – Mdn Sp Wt – Polytrack – Woodbine

#2 -Passion for Action (5-2) – $200 to place. – This first time starter by Speightstown had the services of Luis Contreras (19%), and owned a “Monster Work” and “Blinkers On” handicapping icons. – He finished 3rd. = Bankroll total – $1,655.

Race #5 – Mdn Sp Wt – 7f turf – Woodbine

#2 – Go Bro (8-1) – $200 to place. – The handicapping icons read “3-yr-old and Dropping in Class.” This was the top tier selection who won and paid $9.70 to win, and $4.70 to place. Bankroll total – $1,925 after the $200 wager.


If you want to win the big contest ” you can’t win it unless you get in it.” – As far as our place parlay, I’ll keep you up-to-speed as this was a last minute decision for the “three handicappers.” Best of luck, and have a great week. – You can bet dollars to donuts we’ll have plenty of action for the upcoming weekend!


Weekly Update

by Ed Meyer

posted on July 8, 2014 in General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | 3 Comments >>

It’s good to look back and see what you’ve accomplished, need to work on, and the incredible things you see along the journey. In seven days there were some eye-opening, good fortune, and emotional experiences. We are lucky each and every morning when our feet hit the floor. At the end of each week, I like to take stock of what is happening around me. Here are my past seven days.

Earlier last week, I entered into a “place pool” wagering adventure. Our group of three had agreed to rely on the Winning Ponies E-Z Win Forms for guidance. Now, this was a task as all three of are hard-headed gamblers who wanted to direct the bets our own way. After one week, and a $1,200 beginning we kicked off with a  $200 place wager that was scratched. We waited patiently and decided upon the Queen’s Plate card at Woodbine. We used the top tier selection from two races, and all agreed to make a $200 starting place wager. If it hits, it all goes on the next runner.


Race #9 – The (G-3) Singspiel – 1 1/2 on the turf

#6 – Aldous Snow received  a $200 place wager. The son of Theatrical owned three handicapping icons of “Has Improved, and Moving up in Class.” – With the services of Javier Castellano, it seemed like a no-brainer. – He won, and paid $3.80 to place. We had made a profit of $180, and had $380 to make our next wager.

Race #11 – The $1 Million Dollar Queen’s Plate – 1 1/4

#14 – Lexie Lou – A filly by Sligo Bay was breaking from an outside post, but the gals have held their own in the race. Mark Casse (21%) was the trainer, and after having a stellar meet at Keeneland this past spring. We needed nothing more than that on his home turf. Add in that Patrick Husbands (23%) was in the irons and we felt there was a good shot. – She won impressively, and paid $4.50 to place. The two wagers for the day yielded a $855 total for the day with a  $655 profit. I’ll keep you up-to-speed, and I’ll drop in a wager or two plan that will give you a glimpse of some free E-Z Win Form selections. – Stay tuned!

When you start nearing the 60-year mark in age, you’ll find that having a favorite TV show or two is common, and playing golf cuts back from four times a month back to two. But when you are Perry Ouzts, the rules just don’t seem to apply. – On July 4, Perry rode an incredible 5/5 winners at Belterra Park. – I had this great tagline as he romped to the wire to seal the deal: ” Perry Ouzts is hotter than a firecracker on the 4th of July.” – I would like to take the credit for the quip, but that belongs to my good friend John Engelhardt who was writing his press release. I turn back towards him with my headphones on, asked the golden question of ” Hey John, care if I steal that one from you?” – “No problem, Steady Eddie. – There is plenty more where that came from.” – When Perry Ouzts glided by like he was riding a bullet train racing a turtle, it fit like a glove. – Thanks, John. – I can’t say that is the first, and it won’t be the last. I’m going to need plenty as Perry Wayne Ouzts is on-fire and riding like he is 20-years-old. If you haven’t watched or wagered BtP. Take a gander at one of the hardest working riders in racing. Injuries, age, or tornadoes will not stop this guy. “He is as tough as a nickel steak.”

There are silver linings and there are bumps in the road. We all have them and sometimes they’re life changing, and others are like a fly in your face. But they still bother us a bit, and this week at the track I have one of each. We’ll start with the hardest one first. – I like to bring friends up to the announcers booth. Not to show off or brag, but to allow players like myself to get a peek behind the curtain. It’s never as much fun enjoying the ride by yourself. - I had an old pal drop by and we talked about the races, winning and losing, and the old stories that still make us laugh. For over twenty years we have known each other, and when the talk quieted down, he looked at me and said; “Ed, I’m pretty sick. I wanted you to know, and also let you know what a pain in my ass you’ve been!” – That was his way since minute one, and he never wanted to end anything on a sour note. We have poked fun, laughed at each other, and always greeted each other with friendship. – He shook my hand, and asked me to keep it between us. “You’re the second person I’ve told, and there was just something about seeing your big noggin that made me want to let you know.” – He said he’ll be in touch, and I sure hope this one-of-a-kind good guy beats this hurdle. – I always want to be that pain in his ass, and I sure I hope I’ll have plenty of years to keep him laughing.

Social Media is a wonderful tool. But, I think many are pushing it a bit. I am tired of knowing what you had for lunch (with picture), and the conversations between you and your significant other while you sit on opposite sides of the couch. But that aside, there are many who use it as a soap box. This week I had an old pal drop a bomb on a track. Not that I haven’t heard worse, and sometimes I’m guilty of saying things. My mother told me in second grade, “Be sure not to put anything in writing that you would not be proud of.” – I know he wanted to be the reporter who shared, and used it as a “torch of truth” to be passed. But for a man who enjoys the game, travels to visit tracks around the country, and loves to make a wager. My mom’s words still hold true, and be careful what you toss out to the masses. You’re not chatting with one person, it could be thousands. Just be a little kinder, and hold your on-line tongue. You are respected and have many friends. I would hate to think someone would be offended by a blip and blurb on-line.

That’s it for last week, and what a week it was. We’re off and running for the place parlay, and Perry Ouzts continues to defy Father Time by riding like a hungry teenager. I will keep my friend in my thoughts as he goes to bat against a bitter foe. ( I think this guy can beat anything). Be careful what you say on-line. The person who may be reading it may be a better friend than you know. Just keep calm and go back to taking pictures of your lunch.




Looking Back With Pride

PHOTO: "Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day" at Yankee Stadium. Often referred to as the "The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth" speech after he resigned from the Yankees because of a disease that now carries his name.


If you’re lucky enough to do what you love. Count yourself as one of the luckiest people in the world. It was 75- years- ago on July 4, 1939, when a man stood in the face in of adversity and gave thanks. He called it a “bad break,” and most would have never been able to muster the words to show their gratitude for what life has blessed them. So today, instead of finding fault or directing blame. Give thanks for the wonderful things we sometimes take for granted.

In front of 61,000 fans at Yankee Stadium, a man who the game respected grabbed our hearts and gave us immortal words to gauge our lives. This shy man stood in the sun and informed the world “that he had an awful lot to live for.” With yesterday in mind, I took stock of my life. The good, the bad, and everything in between.

On Friday, July 4th I was working at Belterra Park. It was a perfect summer day and didn’t have the bite of brutal heat and humidity. You couldn’t have ordered up a better day. Well, that all depends who you are. On July 7, 1954, a baby boy was born into a hard-core horse racing family in Lepanto, Arkansas. He has rolled a few winners since his first mount in the spring of 1973 at Beulah Park. He cut his teeth racing against Hall of Famer Earlie Fires and Jackie Fires who was paralyzed in a horse race in 1977. His first winning mount was aboard Rablu that same meet, and over 46,455 mounts later according to Equibase. Perry Wayne Ouzts can look back on a career with great pride.

Perry went past Hall of Fame rider Jerry Bailey to become the 17th winningest rider in history. When asked what it felt like to achieve such a feat he replied, “Just another day at the office.” Ouzts did take glee in replacing Jerry Bailey in the 17th position, “Now that does mean something special because he won most of his races on Cadillac’s I had to work for my wins.” The statistics certainly bear out the difference in the quality of horses ridden by each. In 30,856 mounts Bailey’s horses accrued $296,113,529, while Ouzts has ridden in 44,321 races for earnings of $35,209,787. “When he started out he could have been a leading rider in Chicago, New York or anyplace, he is just that good,” stated trainer Ken McPeek, who also started his career at River Downs. “Perry just liked to stay close to home. He’s one of the best.” Ouzts’ biggest career win came in the $200,000 Cradle Stakes at River Downs in 2007 on a horse he rode for McPeek. – This was according to Ray Paulick, of the Paulick Report.

On July 4, 2014, 59-year-old Perry Ouzts won five out of five races from an eight race card. I spoke to him as he sipped on an soda with his wife Toni. You would have to pull teeth to get Perry to speak, as he lets his action on the track do his talking. If you were to have seen him on this day, you would have thought it was just another day at the track. Longtime River Downs publicist and Belterra Park consultant John Englehardt tabbed him the “working man’s hero.” Nothing could have summed his career better as he comes to work everyday and just gets it done. John told me of the day when he had a motorcycle wreck on the way to River Downs one morning. Many would have thought he would taken a couple of days off, but he rode that day and only won two races on the card. Englehardt has been on the scene for years chronicling his achievements, and every time his tape recorder was near Ouzts there were blips and blurbs for answers. I guess its rare to find a blue-collar rider who is mentioned name is mentioned with the greatest of all-time. A man who is grateful for what the game has provided, and humbly continues daily doing what he loves.

In two days, he’ll turn 60-years-young. His wife Toni said “he wanted to keep it quiet about his birthday,” but I’m sure there are many fans like myself who are in tune with his career. Perry Wayne Ouzts has provided more fantastic finishes than any other rider I have watched in person. He didn’t travel the world to get it done, and stayed close to home to be with his wife Toni and two sons. I can’t relate his on-going career to the late-great Lou Gehrig, but they share the working man’s outlook, the never give-in attitude, and the feeling of gratitude for the many blessings they have received.





Bankroll Builders

Re: Post pics of your bankrollEvery now and again we forget what brought us to the dance. The little wagers that find their way into the forgotten bin of gambling. We graduate on to bigger wagers as we chase the pot of gold. There is plenty of money that is left on the table, and I’m guilty of forgetting what brought me to the dance. I am on a quest of sorts, and you can see where it takes me.

Saratoga opens their gates for the 150th anniversary season on July 18th. I have been waiting for two meets to come into full swing. They are Saratoga, and Keeneland as they make their comeback on a dirt surface. Everyone has their own little favorites, and these two gems are mine. With that in mind, I started thinking about bankroll building time. There is never enough gas in the tank, or at least that is my excuse. I have come into a small winning run, and have waited to make a good wager. But, the excuse train has once again convinced me that my $400 is not enough to make the run. This year, I have taken on two gambling brothers. We toss in a $20 or a $50, and take a shot at a big pool from time to time. I brought up the quest for the gold, and we couldn’t come to a consensus on who would handicap when. This is usually where the parties involved double their money, and tuck it back into their wallet. Then like a bolt from above, I came up with an idea… “How about using Winning Ponies, and we’ll use the E-Z Win Form top selection.” – All agreed, and three men as close as brothers are ready to go to bat with $1,200 the next few weeks. The tracks we’ll use will be Belmont, and Arlington. It all starts tomorrow, and I’ll keep you up to speed who we’ll be playing. The agreed upon format will begin with a $200 place wager, and use no more than three races on any day. If the ticket is good, all goes into the next race. “The old place parlay” rears its head once again, and we’re full steam ahead for the Saratoga meet.


Race #5 – Mdn $40,000 – 7f on the turf – 3:24 p.m. EST

$200 to place #9 / Pilatus

This son of Shakespeare is the top tier selection, and owns a field best 63+ Last Race Rating, and a 61 Composite Rating. His Turf Class Rating is 8.7, and he sports the “Should Improve” handicapping icon. – Alex Solis in the irons for Lisa Lewis, and they are winning at a 27% clip, and the barn is ITM 42% with turf runners.


There is the first step toward our summertime bankroll, and we’ll check in from time to time and let you know how our bankroll is doing. Winning Ponies convinced three strong handicappers to put aside their differences and rely on proven data. When I told the guys  they have over $5,091,069 in exotic payouts, they were more than willing to take part in the bankroll builder.


It happens every year, and hopefully we get to see it. For some it is a curse that pulls back the curtain of time and reveals our every flaw. For others it is the greatest of gifts, and should never be thought of as a weight or a warning. I would like to sit with group two if given the chance, and with the day coming in a matter of hours. I am once again a humble and grateful recipient.

On July 1, 1966 at roughly 3:00 a.m., a baby boy was born. He was delivered in the usual way, but there was a sign of things to come when the doctor held him closer to the light to examine. His eyes were closed tight, and his cry could be heard down the halls. His mother was exhausted and asked why is he crying so loudly? The doctor pulled down his mask and looked at my mother. “He has a Daily Racing Form in his hand, and wants to know when the first race goes to post.” This was the start of his race, and boy what an adventure it has been !

When I was a young lad, going to the races was right of passage. There were family picnics and tagging along with dad and grandpa. But that soon evolved into hanging out with my dad one-on-one learning to read the program. We would dumpster dive for programs that were discarded in the trash, and save that $1 which could be used to make a wager. Yeah, it’s fair to say that I was hooked from day #1.

Being lucky is sometimes just more than hard work and showing up on time. – How many people do you really know that have been blessed with doing what they wanted for a job? – Oh, now c’mon… It isn’t that many, and if you really think about it, we learn to like or tolerate what we do for a job. Not me… I have the best run in the world getting to do what I truly love. Some may doubt, and others may believe half of the story. But all-in-all, I am one of the luckiest guys in the world.

I started off reading the newspaper in the school library. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the sports section to see who was running where. – I was allowed a $20 per week allowance with a elderly bookmaker who would take my calls to make $2 to win and place bets on the race of the day at River Downs, Latonia, Keeneland and Churchill. Most kids saved their grass cutting money to buy a cassette tape or a new bike after a few summers. Not me… I couldn’t wait for dad to summon me from down stairs to ask me if I wanted to go to the races. Derby Day was like a religious experience. My dad and I would get up early, and take all of the neighbors and family members bets to the local book maker who held shop in a VFW. They would have a radio perched above the bar, and all would be quiet when the races would be broadcast on WLAP. This eventually led to being televised, and I was sure that life couldn’t get any sweeter.

But all of this aside, I want to give thanks for every opportunity that has been placed in my path. Sometimes they started very modestly, and the best of journeys begin with the smallest of gestures.

*  Thank you Paul Redfield for getting me that job in the parking lot when I was kid. He told me he would speak to a guy he knows, and I would get hired. “Work hard, Eddie. You don’t know where this will take you.” – Thanks, Fox. – You were more right than you knew.

* Thanks for the opportunity to sweat in the summer sun at River Downs, and freeze in the frigid cold at Turfway Park. – They both taught me to enjoy the moment, but have a plan. – I still have my winter coat hanging in the closet.

* Thanks to the Turfway Park president for pulling me out of the admissions department, and allowing me to work with the biggest players. He knew where my love was, and made it come true in more ways than one. – Thanks, Bob.

* Getting to come back to River Downs for a second time was an unbelievable joy. The things I learned, and the things not to do will stick with me for my life. – Thanks, John Engelhardt.

* I always wanted to write and talk about racing. I have held various positions in TV handicapping and three radio shows at two tracks. – But one of the best times I have had in my racing life is when I joined Winning Ponies in 2008. I was the host of the “Winning Ponies Internet Show,” and was blogging about racing and handicapping  with two of the best guys I have met. – Thank you Izzy and James! – Every time I log on to the site, I am one of the happiest guys around.

* When I turned in my resume to Keeneland. It was like betting a 100-1 shot. For some unknown reason, a man who loved racing more than anything was allowed to sit at the big table for a good spell. It didn’t last the longest in my work history, but there were so many good people who made me feel like I was called up by the Yankees. Quoting the great Lou Gehrig, “I was the luckiest guy in the world.”

* Thank you to Belterra Park. This is their inaugural meet held at a state-of-the-art facility. It may have been the bottom of the barrel time, or just the advice of a good friend who put my name in their ear. I am calling the races at Belterra Park, and no matter if it is good, bad, or improving. It is the hardest/most fun job in the world, and you should appreciate the efforts put forth by the talented folks that bring the race to life. – I don’t know where we go from here, but I will be a “Jeopardy” answer someday. ” Who was the first race caller at Belterra Park in 2014? – Alex, that would be the excitable Ed Meyer. Thank you once again, John Engelhardt.

Overall, turning 48 is as sweet as warm summer day. With the obstacles that fell in my path of life, and the good and bad days along the way. I am grateful and happy. I am a single father, and have been blessed with the sweetest son in the world. My parents are still in good health, and my brother is still my best friend. But overall, I have been a lucky man. I once heard a great line from a movie. “Do you want a shot at the title, or a seat by the band?” – For me, the answer has been simple. Just follow your heart, and you’ll never go wrong. On this day, August Edward Meyer III turns 48-years of young age. I still feel 18, and most of the time I act like it. When I pull up to the track, I still get the same feeling as when I would ride shot-gun with my dad as we rode out to catch the last three or four races on a school night. Many thanks to those who have helped me along the way, and for the blessings that have come to be the best part of my life. – Thank you!


Making the Morning Line

Many handicappers have mixed feelings about the morning line. Some feel it’s not necessary, and others feel it’s a “beginning” to where wagering kicks off. I have always enjoyed reading the lines of Mike Battalgia,  Joe Kristufek, and many others who cover the tracks in their daily handicapping. I learned at the foot of an old-time book maker who showed me three different ways, and my good friend John McDulin who who writes for the Daily Racing Form, and is an Equibase chart caller is more than versed in the art of the morning line creation. – I have over 25-years of handicapping experience, and have won, placed, and qualified in many tournaments around the nation. Thoroughbred racing has been my love since I was looking over the entries in the school library a hundred-years-ago. – I take great pride in making a line to get the players started, and it was John McDulin who gave the me the inspiration. “Ed, you’ll love this as much as betting the ponies.” – He was right, and I have enjoyed every step along the way.

The point formula is using 100 as a constant. Then you add in the win–place-show takeout rate, and add them together. In Ohio, it is 18%, and the beginning number starts at 118. Then, I add one point for every horse in the race. Depending on the field size it will be 118+ 1 point for each runner. Entries are counted as one, and do not get two points added to the number. Now you have the basic formula, here comes the balancing act.

You start by examining the field and I like to start with the longshots first. They are assigned the highest odds as I feel the public will dismiss them on sight. Remember, this is an estimation of how the morning line odds-maker projects the public to wager. These are NOT my official selections in the race, but rather a starting point  barometer to handicap. Next comes the middle range runners from 10-1 down to 5-1. They are the runners players may look at when making multi-race wagers. After the big number runners are given a point value, I start to examine closely the ones who could be the favorites. After all said and done, you do not just assign random numbers to horses as there is a point system to keep the morning line “balanced.”

Point values can be tricky, but if you look closely. You’ll find they make good sense. If you have an eight horse field, the line should be 126. – I like to keep the line as balanced as possible, but I try to get one to three points close to the number. If you cannot, you’ll have to tweak out the numbers by making the odds a bit higher or lower on some runners to keep it balanced.

Here is an example of how the point values are determined. Take 100, and if your horse is (2-1), you’ll need do divide 100 by 2, but you’ll need to ADD 1 to the (2-1) making it 3. = 100 divided by 3 = 33.33 points.

Here is another: = 100 divided by (7-2). / Use the (7-2), and divide the seven in half, and it comes out to 3.5. – Add one point  to the 3.5, and you’ll get 4.5. Now divide 100 by 4.5 = 22 points for that runner. Now, add up the points to hit your target projection, and you may need to raise or lower some odds to balance the line.

The line is made at least 48 hours in advance, and you’ll have some scratches from time-to-time where you need to go back and re-adjust figures. Remember, once the betting windows open the morning line odds can be tossed as now it is in the hands of the betting public. Use it as starting point, and if you have enough time you may want to create your own lines to find runners that may be an overlay for the card. John McDulin was right. It is better than handicapping, as you are projecting how the betting public will wager. Best of luck and have fun making your own lines!


The Wide World of Wagering

We’re the generation of ADW wagering, racing channels on cable and satellite, and every track in the nation is open for bets. Once upon a time I could remember dreaming about going to Las Vegas to hit the race books. When I graduated college, my dad wanted to buy me a gift. “Would you like a school ring, or would you like to join Sandy and I on a three-day weekend to Vegas?” If you see me, you’ll notice there is no reminder of my college graduation on my finger.

My first trip to Las Vegas was one-of-a-kind. We landed at McCarran Airport, and we made a direct shot for the race book. We were staying at the Imperial Palace, and this old school house of betting was everything and more. We started early in the morning with the east coast tracks, and made out way across the nation. After 10 hours of betting and drinking, I was finishing up making wagers on Quarter Horses. Hell, I didn’t even know anything about them, and it didn’t matter. I skipped meals, and only left my seat to make a bet or hit the men’s room. On the way back, I would reach into my pocket and play a 25-cent horse race game. By my calculations, it cost me a minimum of $10 for each trip to the restroom as the horse race game was calling my name.

I didn’t want to sleep, eat, and only thought about doing it all over again. It was certain to say I was hooked on the non-stop world of gambling. I had never seen anything close to “Sin City,” and my first trip left me tired, a few pounds lighter, and my wallet was empty. As I boarded the plane for the four-hour flight home, all I could think of was getting back there as soon as possible.

ADW wagering is as good as it gets. You have your portal open to all of the tracks in the world, and as long as you have money in your account you’re in action. When I first started betting on-line, it was hard to think of it as money. I was drawing directly from my checking account, and it had the feel of casino chips. There was no value as it was just a number on the screen. You only come to know the truth when that number reads $0.00. – If you can use this wonderful wagering weapon correctly, you can take it down. I have a good friend who starts the year off with a $1,000 maximum deposit. “When it’s gone, it’s gone.” He would watch race replays, and bet only a handful of tracks. He loved turf racing, and knew the breeding inside and out. I use to check in with him from time-to-time and he would say he was doing alright. Breeders’ Cup came around and he told me like two runners over the two days of incredible action. “He had the patience of a stone, and would wait for weeks to make a huge bet.” After Breeders’ Cup last year, I asked him how he was doing. “I have requested a total withdrawal from my account.” – I figured he was tapped or took a big hit. But when he had over $23,000 coming to his bank. I learned a valuable lesson of patience and using the site to make a profit instead of seeking a day at the races.

Most tracks are stepping up to the plate. They have mobile applications that allow you to wager from your phone or tablet. – My first glimpse was a hundred years ago, and there was a device called a “Bet-Mate.” – If you ever wondered why they keep the candy and gum near the checkout counters at stores, it’s called an impulse buy. Just too hard to refuse, and your kids go crazy when they see all of the candy at arms reach. – Well, the “Bet-Mate” had the same effect as my pal started off winning by playing the races he handicapped. Then, he must have contracted a rare affliction. I think it’s called “Bet-it-all” as he started wagering $2 or $4 on every track running. “It’s only a few bucks, and who knows? It may payoff.” At the end of the day, he tapped out and borrowed money from me. – The idea of betting from a mobile device is genius. The track can control man power costs, and you can wager from your seat. All you have to do is fund your account at the beginning of the day, and keep your voucher to cash out when finished. This gives you more time to handicap, and you won’t be caught in long lines. If you use this to your advantage, you’ll make your bankroll last longer and have a solid chance of turning the day into a winner.

In so many ways, this is not your grandpa’s game. Wagering is as easy as the click of a mouse, a phone call, or a few key strokes. As long as you have a bit of restraint, you’ll enjoy the technology at hand. No more long drives to the track, buying gas, and having lunch at the track. It all adds up, and if you “bet with your head and not over it.” These are some of the greatest days ever to be a horse player.