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The Immutable Law of Betting Value

I found it a little hard to believe that the lower-than-usual juice Players Pick 5 in California started out with a $100,000 pool.  The bet - one of the hottest bets in horse racing - now takes in much, much more money than that four years later.  But, as Caroline Betts (she's a doctor but she doesn't make you call her that because she's cool), horse rescue lady and economics professor would tell us, these things take time.

After all, if the government told everyone that the price of gas is going to $10 a gallon and staying there for three years, guys and gals with an SUV aren't buying a Smart car tomorrow morning. They will, when and if they find they are no longer getting value. I think it's a microeconomic law of some sort, but I was at the track for most of those classes.

Racing secretaries and some in the business don't embrace the concept of betting value, and it truly is, in my opinion, a detriment to the business.  There are several immutable laws of horse betting (I'd trademark them, but no one really cares) and at the top of the list is: Bettors will bet money when they have value, and they won't bet money when they don't.

Sure there are lottery bets like the Rainbow Six, or dollar and a dream pick 6's, or "fun" or "action" bets. But you can't build a skill gambling game with long-term participation on those. If people want to play a lottery, en masse, they will play the lottery.

You know some of the things bettors demand, because you are a bettor. Fuller fields, because 5 horse fields at 16% win rakes and 25% exotic juice are a mugs game. Takeout that allows you to have a chance at a payout that is somewhat reflected near true odds of the probability of the event happening; that kind of thing, which earlier this century was talked about in the corporate halls of tracks like it was an opinion, not simple betting math.

On a Vegas radio show last evening, a professional gambler (he's a nice guy, you should think about following him) was asked a simple question and gave a simple answer.
If you understand that he is not talking about the lack of entertainment in five horse fields, but the lack of value in five horse fields, you understand us. 

Tracks can card short, unbettable fields for only so long. Tracks can charge higher than average rake, for only so long. In year one it might look good to the bean counters, but in year four or five or six, your handle has been vastly reduced. The purses have been lowered. There's trouble in Dodge.

It's not because bettors don't like your food, or your leading trainer, or the fact you are running on polytrack. It's simply because betting is not a charity. People bet to make money, and if they see value they will, and if they don't see any, they won't.

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