Six Common Mistakes

by Ed Meyer

posted on December 14, 2008 in General Discussion, Handicapping | No Comments >>

Horse players have to take a hard look at their methods from time to time. Just as any business venture, playing the races can be a process where you have to tweak out the bugs. Here are a few ideas that may help before you make your way to the window.

1. Playing too many tracks – I don’t care how good a handicapper you are, if you are betting on more than three tracks, you will have many more losing days than winning ones. Handicapping is mainly about information analysis. More tracks means less time analyzing each race. I recommend not analyzing more than three tracks at a time, if you are serious about winning.

2. Not paying attention to the race changes – Smart handicappers always check the monitors 10 – 15 minutes before the race for changes. Vital data is displayed on the monitors that are critical for your handicapping success. Some examples are: jockey changes, over weights, updated track condition, surface change (turf to dirt), equipment changes, and shoeing information. Without knowing these late developing changes, you are at a severe disadvantage to other players and are less likely to select a winner. I recommend that you always check the monitors for changes….always.

3. Not managing your bankroll – Before stepping inside a Race Track or OTB, you should have a set amount of money for making your bets. If you lose your bankroll (and it happens to all of us) and go home, there is always tomorrow. Don’t use your ATM card for cash and try to recoup your losses. Also, and this is critical to winning, save enough money during the day to play your most promising picks. I recommend arriving at the Track or OTB early to allow time to review the race program or Daily Racing Form to determine your best picks.

4. Doubling-up your bets when you are losing – Never do this! It’s a sure way to lose BIG. We all have winning streaks and losing streaks. When you’re winning, it’s OK to bet a little more. However, if you’re losing, and the racing gods are not giving you any breaks, refrain from increasing the amount of your normal wager. There is always tomorrow for recouping losses.

5. Not betting your key horse to WIN – I see this too often. A player loves a horse and uses him in the double, exacta, trifecta, and pick-3. The horse wins, but as luck would have it, the other parts of the player’s bet lose. Because the player did not bet the horse to win, the race becomes a total loss. I recommend that if you really like a horse, always bet a few bucks on him to win. If the horse wins, you at least cash the win bet, and the payoff will help offset the cost of all or part of your exotic bets.

6. Not checking your tickets– Regardless if you bet with the mutuel clerk or use an auto-tote machine, you should always check your tickets before leaving the betting station. Clerks are not perfect keying in your numbers and tickets get stuck in machines. It is your responsibility to insure your tickets are accurate. I have also been guilty of not doing this simple task and have been disappointed only to discover my error after the race. I recommend that you always check your tickets and count your change. If using an auto-tote machine, be sure to check your tickets and print your return voucher.