Thursday, November 12, 2009

Handicapping - One Sentence Usually is Enough

There is an interesting handicapping discussion going on at The thread "When is Too Much, Too Much?" and it supposes that with all the handicapping information out there, there is a point where too much information becomes detrimental to your ROI.

I thought about that for a little while, and looking back as a long-time horseplayer, I believe this does have merit. When I have a sound bet that I am confident in, and believe to be a very good play I can usually sum up why I like the horse in one simple sentence. Time and time again this seems to hold.

Try it sometime - your buddy really likes a horse that just hits and pays $19. Ask him why he liked it. Chances are it will be simple and to the point - "he was the only speed and the track is playing fast", or "he was live last week and dropping in class", or "he showed sneaky speed for the first time last week."

Then try it with a loser horse. Why did you like him? I bet it is a long drawn out answer about how the favourite was overbet and looked lame, the driver or jockey is hot, the trainer won a race earlier in the day, he had a fast time last time and looks to be peaking, and more.

When I was at Keeneland a few weeks ago I sat down after the races with horseplayer Mike Maloney who is very sharp. He had a decent day that day and I tried it with him too. All his winners were one line answers, pretty much without fail. I think everyone has that characteristic, and it is not about winning or losing, it is about the simple fact that if you can describe quickly why the horse will win the race, it is probably a high hit rate bet.

I guess technically we spoke of this before in our post called "Blink" and I very much believe that for automatic bets. But this is different. Being able, in your own mind, to explain your thinking quickly and easily means you had a crystal-clear vision of the horses and the race in front of you. If I feel that way I tend to up my bet size, because those plays do not happen nearly enough for me, and capitalizing on them can be the difference between winning and losing.

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