Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Dink - "Proper Gambling is More Important Than Proper Handicapping"

Dink's semi-annual twitter proclamation was proclaimed today.
Although it's never that simple, he makes a good point.

As humans we are blessed with some amazing tools. We can analyze thousands of pieces of data and come up with a conclusion. But, as humans we're also cursed with biases that can really hurt us. One of them is, a lot of us can't grasp the concept of chance.

Let's look at a game of coin flip. Most of us would think getting a long run of continuous heads or tails is something that can't happen, because of chance. In fact, 50% of the time you will get a run of 10 consecutive heads (or tails) if you flip a coin 710 times.

If you told someone you picked a pick 6 lotto ticket with the numbers 111111 or 22222 they'd look at you like you have six heads, when in fact the odds of that coming in are the same as the 693541 that they have on their ticket.

A horse race is a game of chance with each horse (even Rick's Natural Star, although that's as close to an example of "no chance" as we might find) having at least some chance to win. That's something, I believe, a lot of good handicappers don't assimilate well. But good gamblers do.

The tote board does more work for a good gambler than studying a racing form. It's remarkably accurate and has been very accurate since forever. The tote board provides an array of probabilities (chances) for them as a starting point. Then each horse is analyzed and the race is attacked as not one to find a winner, but one to extract betting value based on chance. This is why you hear so many good gamblers say so often, "I just play race by race" or "I don't play pick 4's". Most of them don't even handicap a race beforehand.  You can't properly analyze chance in a race three races ahead.

These differences are difficult for a lot of true handicappers to get their heads around, because they want winners. This focus can create a lot of bad gambling habits that are, in my view, insurmountable barriers in achieving long term success - overbetting a bankroll/improper bet sizing, overbetting or underbetting an opinion, or not getting enough value from a good opinion, starting with too small a bankroll, not paying attention to takeout rates, or not ensuring they get rebates.

If I had a chance to be a great handicapper and a good gambler, versus a good handicapper and a great gambler, I'd choose the latter seven days a week. The tools the latter gives me are worth their weight in gold.

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