An elderly man I sat near in a Las Vegas race book every day for over a year. One of the morning regulars. Lost his wife the previous year. He said without racing, he'd have no reason to get out of bed in the morning. I believe he meant it. He loved his "work" and his "office" cronies. Then one day, he stopped showing up, and everybody just knew...
A middle aged guy, at the race book most nights, standing up, hooting and hollering, pounding his fists in the air every race, betting a whopping $2. I wish he'd just shut up but his enthusiasm just cannot be contained. Hey, he just hit a $20 winner. I do my best to suppress a little smile.
A young man, whose previously anti-gambling wife prodded him to get his bets in once he started making serious money, casually makes his $2500 in bets for the day, one $100 bill after the other. I don't handle $2500 in Monopoly money that dispassionately. His extensive betting records are an open book. Holy crap!
An man fumbles to make his bets. Has he ever made a bet before? He's convinced he's just lucky, even though he has supported himself solely on his weekly winnings for 6 months. He quits because of the stress. And because he's just lucky.
A young man comes into some money, buys thousands of dollars of computer programs and books, starts making $200 bets within a few days, and is busted in less than a week.
A man quits handicapping after 40 years of losing. He is sick and ^%^$#! tired of losing. He never looks back.
A man buys a new program. He admits he's been losing for 40 years. He's obviously excited about the new program. Really excited. Dang, now I'm excited.
A woman calls to tell us her husband recently died. She relates how much he enjoyed handicapping and number crunching and how he treasured the friendships he made with his fellow handicappers. She called to let us know...and thanked us, along with everybody else. Sigh...
A man bets horses for a living, surrounded by computers and TV screens. He laments the lack of a social life. The stigma. The isolation. He used to love horse racing.
A man relates to me that all handicapping programs are completely worthless. Why? He's bought them all and lost his shirt with every single one of them.
A man quits his high paying job to pursue his dream of being a professional horseplayer. After a year, he's back in the job market. Successful? He says yes. Happy? He says no. Glad he tried? He says definitely.
These are some of the faces I personally put on handicappers. Some successful, some not, depending on how you define success. Beating the game in the longterm is a very very attractive carrot; beating the game today can be very satisfying; continuing to lose can suck the life out of you.
And so it goes. Race 5 is coming up.
They deserve more respect than we've been giving them.