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Luck II

On our post on Luck - bad beats and making things beyond your control affect your play - the Tinkster left a good comment:
  • This is one of the rare cases in which I don't agree with your conclusion. While I do agree with your basic premise, that “bad beats” are likely to eventually even out over time, I would argue that you may be missing the bigger picture.

    The key to successful gambling is money management, and, to my mind, the most nuanced aspect of money management is an ability so uncommon that few successful gamblers are aware of it, let alone able to master it.

    The skill to which I refer is the ability to identify both hot and cold streaks during their early stages, and adjust accordingly. This ability, when refined, can have a huge impact on the bottom-line.

    The connection to your post is that when you speak of "luck", you do so in a dry, academic manner. That is understandable, but it fails to take into account that in horse racing, every participant (e.g. owners, trainers, riders, horseplayers, etc.) experiences streaks. And those streaks, while perhaps reasonably viewed as random from a statistical standpoint, can in fact be recognized and taken advantage of , irrespective of whether one views them as being related to luck.

    In other words, convincing horseplayers that what they may consider to be bad luck is likely to even out on long-term statistical basis, and that they would be wise to act as your professional friend did during his 56 race cold streak, could well be a mistake in the context of what I have outlined above.

    I am, in summary, suggesting that there actually is an intelligent and rational basis on which horseplayers might change their betting responses based on what is widely perceived to be “luck”. 
This is a good point and I agree. I did not touch on reduced bet sizing, taking a break or riding a win streak by  being more aggressive.  I was concentrating on bad beats from a statistical perspective.

If you are having "good luck" or "bad luck" it may be happening for a reason. Maybe you are betting speed horses but there is a slight closer bias, or if you are winning, you are betting similar horses and the track is nuanced to speed. The possibilities are endless really. It's a big part of being a good bettor.

We do see it with trainers, drivers and riders too. A barn can't catch a cold (actually the barn probably has a cold and goes sour), then everything seems to fall into place. In harness racing a driver who is driving well is likely being aggressive because he has confidence. Aggression wins races in a speed game. 

Funny enough, I thought back to a story a friend told me a few years ago (the exact details are fuzzy so I hope I don't butcher it if he's reading). He has played professionally for many years and is a wonderful horseplayer. He, like most people, is not immune to losing streaks, nor is he immune to the nasty psychological effects of them we all face. You can't fight human nature. He also knows how to properly deal with them.

Many years ago now, after a particularly bad streak he was on, he did the right thing; he finally decided to call it quits and take a vacation. He went golfing for a couple of weeks in Florida or Georgia (I don't remember which). While there he did not check results, or even look at a horse race or form.

On the way home - by happenstance - he picked up a Form to do a little reading. Glancing at the Belmont results he noticed there seemed to be an outside speed bias. That happens (ed) from time to time at Belmont and usually stays that way for a few days.

He didn't think much of it, but when he got home it stuck in his mind and he dug a little deeper. He saw that it appeared to be a pretty stout bias.

He downloaded the next day PP's.

This is a fellow who makes his own figures, watches hours and hours of replays a week at many circuits. He did none of that because he was technically on a losing streak and wasn't playing yet. He wasn't ready to dive back in. What he did do was decide to take a pick 4 (it may have been a pick 6, I can't recall exactly) adding outside speed and riders who looked like they knew what was happening with the track.

This guy can spend $20,000 on a pick 6 carryover with many hours of ticket construction, but this time he spent something like $256 or $324 on his one spread ticket.

Lo and behold it hit with a plethora of speed bombs and he cashed for over $50,000.

Streak over.

The end of this streak was not superior handicapping, but a whole lot of luck. If he handn't decided to pick up a Form to read on the plane, he never would've even noticed the potential ticket.

However, in a way (like Tinkster alluded above) he made his own luck in this case. He did the right thing by quitting for a couple of weeks. He didn't jump right back on the horse, he noticed a potential nuanced bias and took a $256 ticket to have a little fun; ease back into racing. It worked.

Bad beats, losing photos, losing head bobs and all the rest are mostly out of your control, however doing the fundamentally correct thing when encountering them is always the proper thing to do. It can make your own luck.

Have a great Wednesday everyone.


Sal Carcia said…
It seems that big hits sometimes come along because of unexpected circumstances. It's so difficult to actualy predict when these are going to come along. I could say that it is usually when my handicapping seems to be on. I might not be having any particular luck, but the potential is there. I had a really nice hit one time when my betting partner talked me into a play because a whole bunch of my original picks were scratched and the play was really small. I didn't even think of it. I made my biggest hit due to a scratch of a single and I added some other horses. But, the last substitute horse I threw in was on the rail on a pronounced outside bias. My partner was annoyed with the pick and kind of made fun of me. The rider took an outside path and won nicely. The rest of the play fell right into place. I almost left that horse out.
Pull the Pocket said…
With ya there Sal. I've had similar happen too. What a game!


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