Monday, July 6, 2009

Handicapping and Golf

Gamblers of other games, say sports betting, or casino gambling tend to flinch when looking at horse racing. "How can someone play a game where you lose so many more times than you win", or "how can you possibly play a game with 22% skimmed from the pot" are common questions.

I usually answer that horse racing is a great game to play because it is just like golf. No matter how good you get at it, you can never, ever master it. When Tiger Woods shoots a 61, he is mad at himself because two missed putts, three off-center iron shots and four missed fairways all occurred during the round. He promises himself he can 'do better next time' and he will practice to assure that he will. In any other sport, or any other vocation how many people think like that?

It is the same with handicapping. No matter how much you learn, there is more to learn. No matter how many bets you make, there is always a way to make them more efficiently. You can never master the game of handicapping the horses.

People have their passions and for some it is the previously mentioned golf. I used to play quite a bit. When the company I am involved with started there was but two of us, we both golfed, and we only had a couple of clients each. As an added bonus, winter was super-busy and summer not so much. Once a week or more rounds of golf happened regularly. I tried constantly to get better, and of course I never came close to mastering that difficult game. After some time work got busier, employees were added and time to play waned. I recently took a short vacation near Moncton, New Brunswick on the Amherst Shore of Nova Scotia where golf courses were everywhere but I did not even bring my clubs. What I did bring though was my computer, and while there, in my spare time, I worked on handicapping. Instead of going for a five hour tour of the links I toured questions and data mining of "if a horse is used in the second quarter quicker than a par time, how much does his final quarter suffer", "how many horses win with three hole trips", "if a horse is scorched in a quick pace what does he do the next race when on the engine in a proper pace?" Questions only a handicapper would want answered.

Handicapping and getting better at it is my current passion. Just like a few years ago when I worked on my golf swing like a total freak, I work on handicapping like a total freak. I know I will never master it; not even close. It is what keeps me coming back and it is what makes handicapping the horses the greatest gambling pursuit ever invented. We need to shout that from the rooftops, and get track management and horseman groups to realize that this game can grow rapidly, just like golf did if we treat improving it with passion like horseplayers do. It is often said, I think correctly, that track execs and horseman groups have no idea who their customers are. To get them to understand us we can tell them to look at their golf games. Handicapping is the same thing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post. Yes, you always need to keep learning to stay a good handicapper... and you always have to stay hungry... that's just one part of what makes it such a great game!