Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Georgian Gold & Handicapping Gold

It's funny, kinda Karma-like. I was just going to write up a post on an idea I had about Georgian Downs. I think you'd all like it, and I think it could raise handles by upwards of $20,000 in the summer (I will share this in another post some time). Lo and behold I take a quick look at the Georgian website and boom, off they go.

This summer they are planning an event they are titling the Georgian Gold Rush. It is a night where $1M in purses are given away, and on track promotions are paramount.

Set for June 28, 'Gold Rush' will be a themed celebration of Ontario harness racing with championship stakes action at its core. Melding together all four of the early-season OSS Gold Finals for three-year-olds and four Masters Series Finals for aged provincial-breds, the event offers a menu of Ontario racing like nothing that's come before it.

"We're excited about this event and the appeal that it carries within the industry and beyond," said Chris Roberts, Director Of Operations at Georgian Downs.

I can't argue too much with that, although for handle purposes I think putting these events on a Tuesday is better than a Saturday. I understand that they want fans to come to the track, and it is a shame that last year the weather was so bad for Xtreme Harness Racing, but with promotion it is not totally unrealistic that on a Tuesday they would get a big handle bump. There is no racing on Tuesday to compete with of note. Regardless, that is neither here nor there. They certainly try at Georgian and it's a beautiful track so I hope this event does them some good.

I got an email from a 'capper who is trying to make it and become profitable. In my previous posts on handicapping we discussed betting with discipline through money management. This player is struggling with this. From his email:

I still had $ left in my account when I came home tonight and I went to see what races were left. They were still racing at Western Fair and in race 9. I bet to place on Locofoco N. He finsished 3rd. I shouldn't have bet him anyway, he wasn't a long run money maker. The next race, race 10 at Western. I really liked Pacific Oak as he has been on fire lately. But of course I bet a race at Northfield because that race started earlier, damn. I would have bet him to place. He was a huge longshot and another great example of how longshots usually come from high percentage trainers.

In conclusion. I think my handicapping skills are very good. My disipline is very bad. I'll work harder on developing that so, I don't have to tell you more angry stories about tickets I missed.

This is something that plagues most in racing: Being out of cash before your "prime" bet comes along. One way I like to cope with this is setting out your wagers in A, B and C forms. A is the prime bet, B is sub-prime and C is action. For a smaller capitalized player, I think advance betting a few dollars on your prime is a good thing, then setting a cap on how many B and C races you play. This way you preserve some capital. I don't care who you are, when you are struggling with limited funds you simply do not have patience.

Do you know what the cure is? Winning. When you know your prime bets are yielding profit, you do not want to play any other races. It is a pure confidence play, that comes from knowing what to play when you have had success with something. When you reach that point you might have a conversation with another player that goes like this: Player A: "Who do you like." You: "The seven but it is not a solid play." Player A: "Are you going to bet?" You: No, "I don't make money on these plays, so why would I want to waste money on an action bet?"

It is called knowing when you are in the zone and the sweet spot of your play can crack off the bat. Professional horseplayer Jason Kassa talks about that baseball analogy in a post here, called "Get a good ball to hit"

........wait for a pitch in your "happy zone"(see the orange and dark red baseballs where Williams estimates between a .390 and .400! average). This relates to horseplaying in that the horseplayer has to carefully select high-value races in the same way that Williams or Hornsby or Bonds demand a good pitch to hit. It is a skill that can be improved upon.

Sound advice!

Lastly, Handicapping contests were asked about below. I feel they are interesting for a few reasons:

1. They have low, or no takeout. If you bet win at the track you get hit for 16% rakes. If you are playing pari-mutuelly in a tournament you are playing sometimes rake-free. 50 entrants and $50,000 prize money is a decent play.

2. They are fun.

3. It is like chess on steroids. Not only do you have to handicap a winner, you have to handicap the handicappers. That to me is really cool.

Some tracks do something that I have long advocated for upping handle - they make the players play a bankroll into their pools. Real money, bet right into a pool. This illustrates one type contest (from Horseplayer Magazine):

Like Ross Gallo’s other UHI tournaments, the Ultimate Handicapper’s Challenge is definitely not a contest meant for the faint-hearted. The tournament costs $2,000 to enter, which includes a $1,000 entry fee and a $1,000 real money bankroll. Players must wager on at least 6 of the contest’s 8 pre-selected races from Tampa’s live Festival Preview Day racecard. The format involves win, place, show, exacta, trifecta, and superfecta wagers. The UHI twist is that players must bet at least half of their current bankroll on each and every bet. For example, players must wager at least $500 on the first race they choose to play (half of the starting $1,000 bankroll). If that player cashes for $2,500 to bring his or her bankroll up to $3,000, that player must bet at least $1,500 on their next race, and so on. That’s not chump change, especially because every bet is real and not mythical money.

Since all bets are real money, all players keep their final bankrolls as well as prize money, which would be $50,000 based on 50 entrants (this contest returns 100 percent of all entry fees with no take-out).

If a track can get that kind of tourney going, it can be a windfall. They might bet $200,000. At a 16% rake from the pools, the track gets $32,000 and all they had to do was maybe hand out a few free snacks. I'll take veggies and dip for 32 thousand, Alex.

The DRF has a couple books on Handicapping Tournaments that are quite good. Also the web has many strategy pieces that one can find.

As I said earlier, this year Trot should be doing theirs again. I think it would be fun to get a few guys in and track their progress!

Final note: Congrats to Harnesslink. They had a banner year with almost 900,000 visits. It is nice to see a new harness racing site getting and growing a following.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely 100% agree on your point about the Georgian events being Tuesday over Saturday.

6/28 is the same night as the Armbro Flight and Roses Are Red finals at Woodbine and the Titan Cup at the Meadowlands, so you're not going to get any of the top drivers there, nor are you going to get the attention that the event deserves.

Pull the Pocket said...

It's a tough call I know, but I do agree.

We tend, most of the time to lean on live crowds versus simulcast betting. Since Georgian only gets 3% or 4% of simulcast I guess it makes more sense to them to go with the live crowd.

It would be nice tho to see a 600K handle to play into, and a few big M and all the WEG regulars staying over for the Georgian card, though, wouldn't it? That might happen if it was on Tuesday.

Anonymous said...

Actually Harnesslink is not that new, we were one of the first harness racing sites on the web. Looked a bit different back then though.

Thanks for the congrats :)

Pull the Pocket said...

My bad!

Wow, you do look different. Thanks for the link!

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