Do You Gamble Or Wager?

by Ed Meyer

posted on December 23, 2008 in General Discussion, Handicapping, Help/Educational Articles | 1 Comment >>

Besides “Who do you like,” the question I hear the most is “How do you bet?” There’s no easy answer, but I’ll give it a shot.

First of all, handicapping is easy; betting is hard. But beyond the actual execution of bets, there are many other factors going on that need to be understood if you are going to have a chance.

I want to make money. Sometimes that means winning more than losing, sometimes that means walking away when I’m ahead and sometimes that means walking away when I am behind. My goal is not to break the bank, to be carried out on the shoulders of my fellow bettors or have the simulcast site ban me because I am winning too much. For every anecdote about someone that went to the track with a small bankroll and hit it big, there are far more tales of bettors not picking up their stack and walking away ahead.

So I think it makes sense to ask yourself WHY you bet. But you also have to take a hard look at yourself and examine whether your behavior is in line with your goal. I have a friend that I am convinced bets in a way that increases the chance that the next race could enter his Tale of Woe Hall of Fame. He has every imaginable bad beat story. In fact, if I wasn’t with him and saw first-hand how no lead was safe or how the wire always seems to come up before his rallying horse can get there, I wouldn’t believe it myself. I once told him that “Doctor Melfi would say that you want to lose.”

If your goal is to have fun, make sure that you have fun. If your goal is to have a life-changing score, make sure that you fall out of love with odds-on favorites. If your goal is to go to a wagering site and enjoy talking to your buddies, bet in a way that will enable you to do that for many years.

Here’s one you see all the time. Most horseplayers I know would consider themselves “Old School.” In between races you’ll hear discussions about Terrell Owens and his excessive end-zone celebrations. Yet, the same horseplayer will overreact to wins and losses to their own detriment.

The “Old School” horseplayer will have a nice score and then start betting way beyond their comfort zone. They’ll lose focus from winning and start making money management mistakes. Without realizing it, they are behaving like T.O., except his celebrations seem to make him more money while the “Old School” horseplayer is wasting precious bankroll dollars. The advice of football coaches to act like you’ve done it before after you score a touchdown, can be applied when you have a big score. Act like it’s no big deal and you might get another one.

Do you keep accurate records? Some account wagering companies do a good job of breaking down your betting records by track or wager type. If they do, use it. You need to know what your strengths and weaknesses are and record-keeping can go a long way to get you to divert your focus toward more profitable situations.