Wait To Play, Or Fire Away??

by Ed Meyer

posted on August 28, 2013 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments >>

In racing there are many types of players. You have the get rich quick type that shoot every penny on a pick six carryover, or you have the spot player waiting for the big race to unload a bankroll. Either way, they can be chancy propositions.

The old days had us playing our nine race card with no chance of ever seeing another track run. It was a tough game to  sweep a card, and if you hovered around 50%, you would still lose on the day. But gone are the days of just seeing your local oval parade the ponies. You can sit in an OTB, or play from home. Every track, and every few minutes bring the opportunity of the big score. Or, if you take three steps back it allows us to step into the batters box way too many times. This will ultimately draw you into a “crossfire” as you win two, and lose three. At the end of the long day, you power down your computer and wait for another chance. How many feel what I am talking about ?

I have ventured across players who stash away money to build that elephant size bankroll to throw at a pick six. If you  step back and take a look at your odds, you are better off shooting craps in the men’s room. I know quite a few that have won big on this bet, but it was not taken down on a quick pick or a $2 ticket. For the average player, this is a “no-no wager.” Stay out, and stick to your knitting as a friend of mine would say.

Spot players have an advantage. They usually have a great deal of patience and wait it out. If they were Mohammed Ali, they would rope-a-dope the entire card waiting for the golden opportunity. Now this is not as much fun, but it has merit. It means long days, and note taking for future races. Since “tap dancing” has left my arsenal of wagering. I have found that playing only the horses I love has worked better.  I am not ready for the infomercial circuit, but it is the small hits that keep you in money. I will take $40-$80 winning days a few times a week versus the once a month $300 dollar winner. Spot players sometimes get put in rare positions. Once I was waiting on some horses, and seven appeared on one card at Keeneland. It was hard to believe, as the day looked golden. The only magic was to keep my head and not get into old bad habits. Well, that is easier said than done, and I found myself using my target runners in pick-three’s, four’s and exotics. At the end of the day, I had five winners from my list, and I lost my bankroll. It is hard to believe, and it is the truest of true. I got caught up in the hoopla of the day, and lost focus at a bad time.

If you have ever seen the movie Rounders, it plays out like a gamblers mantra. The trailer for the movie caught my eye, and it has stayed in my heart ever since: ” In the game of life, you play the cards you were dealt.” – Rounders. There is a character by the name of Knish. He is a grinder of sorts that strives to make his monthly bill doing what he loves. He wasn’t chasing fame and fortune, but he was using his skills to survive. With the big name actors, and the edgy lines. I fell in love with a bit player who appears at the right time to set the “kid” straight. You had to root for the kid shooting for Vegas glory, just as you cheer for the table of guys dumping cash into the pick six. But Knish was right… He was in it for the long haul, and wasn’t out to be a name or a face. He was steady and true, and held to his guns.

Yesterday I was asked by a longtime gambler how many huge winning days have I had? He was asking a good question, but it didn’t apply to me. He asked again, and said “you have been playing too long not to take down the monster payoff ?”  Now these are good questions if you survey 100 gamblers. But my answer was simple. I don’t play that way. I look to make my $50 -$200 score which is attainable. It isn’t as glorious as the big guys who have their picture taken this week, and ask for coffee money the next. I set goals now. If I double my bankroll, I am finished for the day. As my pal Steve has told me: ” when old Ben Franklin appears in my wallet, I head for the door.” – The years I worked with John Engelhardt at River Downs, he could tell you there were many days I would start with my $20, and run it up to $200 in a few hours. We would usually head down for a few beers and chicken wings as celebrating with a friend makes the day that much sweeter.

So what is the moral of the story? Patience….. Take your time and focus your efforts on your game. Don’t worry about the big pick-three “Joe-Blow” caught last week, as this can get you chasing rainbows. You are in it to win it, and not be the talk of the track. As I wrote this, I made a wager on the first race at Saratoga. I doubled my bankroll, and I am finished for the day. The weekend looks bright ahead, and as the end draws near at the Spa. You can rest assured there will some great races….Good luck from your friends at Winning Ponies!