I wrote the following for the Handicappers Edition of Trot and reprint it here:
For those of us who’ve made the “walk of shame” to the ATM at the track (or had way-too-many deposits to our online account) know, bankroll management can always use some work. There might be nothing that’s more frustrating or misunderstood than the bank we play this game with.
I’d like to offer three ways we can maximize our betting bankroll (or at least feel better about it) and hopefully make this incredibly tough game more fun.
First, it’s important to remember that when we bring $100 to the track to wager, it is not our real bankroll. We as bettors, over a month or two, have a much higher stake to bet with than we think. What we need to do is gather what we can use as our real bankroll – usually a figure we are comfortable with – and bet off that number.
I know some bettors who start with a ‘real’ grubstake of $500 and they use that as their anchor. When their account gets over, say, $1,000, they take $500 out; when a losing streak inevitably happens, they top it off. This anchor number can minimize the frustration and mental stress with continual reloads of $20 or $100, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.
We as horseplayers tend to like things a certain way. Picking a bankroll number we’re happy with allows us to get comfortable and worry less about how much money we have and more about making it.
Second, I saw professional horseplayer Mike Maloney not long ago chatting about properly managing bankroll, and he suggested a really great tip that fits so well into today’s world of harder to hit exotics. Mike advises that some bets in some sequences should not be played if we do not have the bankroll chops to play them; this because we cannot adequately cover all of our opinions.
Although this advice might be more apt to a big Thoroughbred racing day, like the Breeders’ Cup or Kentucky Derby, it is sound. If we can’t cover horses in a pick 6 that we want, and constantly find ourselves “cutting down a ticket” why are we playing that wager? We can’t build a bankroll if we never win.
Mike believes that lower capitalized players should wager rolling pick 3’s or doubles instead of a pick 5 or pick 6; play a triactor instead of diving into a 50 cent super high five, or alternatively (if we want the action) splitting tickets with friends or a group. There is no need to swim with the sharks when we don’t have the teeth to.
My last suggestion is more mental than anything, but I believe is extremely important. To manage our bankroll properly we need to be playing the long game. This means eliminating from our vocabulary phrases like the “get out race”, where we need to make a score in the last race of the day to break even. It’s not 1948 where the track isn’t open until next week. Getting out, or wagering with a short-term mindset usually means we’re making terrible bets, and bad bets kill bankrolls. Seasoned, successful players manage to monthly or yearly targets and don’t sweat the day to day. It’s pretty sound advice.
Bankroll management is math, but a whole lot of psychology, too. I hope the three suggestions above help you manage your bank better, or at the very least make you think of more ways you can.