Monday, June 5, 2023

World Famous Super Spectacular Blog Vol 10 - Kentucky Downs: Slash the Juice, Legends on Podcasts, Being Limited at Books, Gabe's Betting at the Bell, Process vs. Results, & Rejected Advertisers

Welcome to the World Famous Super Spectacular Blog Vol 9. 

I guess a quick note - this blog is not world famous, I just like overselling and I'm sticking with it until the Department of Hyperbole tells me I can't anymore. 

First up, let's play a game. 

The Government gives you like $50 million dollars to run a racetrack, and you get this each year as far as the eye can see. 

The racetrack itself sells about $60 million in product (handle) and your margin on that product is about $3 million, or 5% of what you receive in gratuity each year. 

So, if you didn't even sell anything - you sent every customer home to shop somewhere else - you'd have $50 million instead of $53 million. 

Now, this $50 million does come with some strings. You have to:

i) Ensure the cash is distributed to the right people. 

ii) Show you are growing the $60 million in sales because the people giving you the money don't want to look like fools (this is your downside risk). 

To run our track properly, this is pretty simple, isn't it? 

We'd send a ton of money to state breds, and local trainers and owners. 

And we'd eliminate any downside risk to sales. This would be done in the easiest way possible - slashing the price to pretty much nothing. Why nothing? Because we only get $3 million from it, and $50 million is bigger (and more important) than $3 million. 

Now, we'd obviously want some return, because zero is silly. We'd probably want to increase revenues at some point outside the $50 million. But you get my point. 

Sadly, and I believe this dumbfounds us all, one racetrack of this type, Kentucky Downs, has decided this year to increase the takeout. 

This hike could "work". That is, they could, instead of say $53.0 million in revenue, generate maybe $53.1 million in revenue. But at what cost? Perhaps growth and public relations.

It's a hell of a lot harder to cancel a subsidy if our racetrack is delivering double in handle what Blue Grass day does on our big day; is perhaps the third largest handle day in a state - filled with happy on-track patrons - that includes the Kentucky Derby. 

It's funny to me. The industry examines and reports handle figures each day, each meet, each quarter like clockwork You'd think handle would be an important metric to them. To Kentucky Downs (and so many slot-fuelled, subsidized racetracks) I don't for one moment believe that it is. Actions speak louder than words. 

On to other things......

The legend Maury Wolff was Chris's guest on the Bet with the Best pod this week. As of this writing (traveling and work stuff the past week) I have not listened, but I've been really looking forward to this baby. 


Thread of the Week on twitter has to go to Nico. He's like some sort of well-connected super-sleuth. 

Pletcher runs a very professional barn and it ain't his first rodeo. Why so many overages?  Maybe gumshoe Nico can uncover what's been going on, but in my view, this is pretty strange.

I've been motoring around so I haven't fully digested the Chuchill move, however, Ed has it covered. 

Chatting with a gambling friend this week and one interesting conversation we had was about slots at various casinos in Ontario. 

It turns out several of the high payout machines that are usually packed are like a ghost town now. When the slot captain was asked what happened, he simply said "no one seems to play them anymore". Turns out what happened was an increase of the juice.

For example, perfect play video poker could result in positive ev with free play and these machines were always super-busy, but the volume players who knew the tiny edge apparently knows there isn't one anymore. Their volume didn't creep down slowly, it went to zero. 

On another (similar) note, baseball at Casino Windsor was sporting 35 cent lines, and this was not much worse than the lines at Woodbine. 

The lesson in this new landscape I suppose: If you want prices, make sure you line shop, and pay attention to posted rate changes.

Added bonus to the blog this week - Live shots of a Horseplayer get together this past weekend. 

Tommy Hammer watching NYRA replays while The Spice Girls (that wanna song) is playing. Nice to meet you and Tarik both, Tommy!

PTP watching his best bet of the night live..... finish third. Note to younger players, one day you'll wake up with reading glasses, be grey and you'll notice it in random pictures. It comes when you least expect it, like when you hit a Rainbow pick 6. 

@ryanwillis1 annoyingly saying to any horseplayer within earshot, "I haven't made a bet all day...... you guys are all obviously degenerates," over and over again after like six drinks. 

Woodbine introduced the "Omni Swinger" this week; which should not be confused with an ad from an alternative dating site, because it's a wager. 

This bet was built for the UK or Hong Kong with massively big, competitive fields, and it can work in those because the number of likely combinations is pretty huge. In harness racing which is dominated by favorites, I think probably not so much. 

Woodbine has plenty of wagers with watered down payoffs, including 20 cent tris and pick 3's. I'm not sure why more of them would help handle, but I write a free blog on the internet. 

Here's a doozy for you. 

At a major legal sportsbook, a friend was betting solely based on prices and price shopping (knowledge of how to play, with little handicapping), and he was doing some volume - about $75,000 in bets. Approaching the $75,000 number he finally went green. He had $120 profit.

The next day his play was limited to just about nothing. It is just remarkable how most books seem to operate. 

Big Al put the pressure on, but I can't deliver. It sounds like I have to catch up on the shenanigans Saturday.  The NFL changed the kickoff rules for the 2023 season, where returns are to be almost eliminated. 

These plays - where you have 225 pound men running 4.5 forties directly into other 225 pound men running 4.5 forties - unsurprisingly have high concussion rates. The league decided they "had to do something". This change is massive, of course, as kickoff returns are a part of the fabric of the game, and a lot of people are upset about it. 

It's not dissimilar to the synthetic track debate in horse racing land is it? The safety stats are pretty clear, but unlike the NFL, the sport has decided that the fabric of the game would change too much for their liking.

I lost on a 7-1 trotter who was leading by five and was going to win as he pleased who suddenly for no reason broke, then I got locked in behind a wall in a bizarrely run race at 11-1, then I had the only four horses who could possibly win in the last leg of a pick 5 and they all lost to a horse that hasn't shown a pulse. And that was only one day last week. This game can be so frustrating. 

But, I played well to sniff out those potential scores, which reminds me of process versus results.....

There are continual arguments on the twitter about our pal warm and cuddly ITP; mainly that until he "shows his tickets" he can't be trusted as a winning player. I honestly don't blame people too much for thinking this because in this world the reality can be different from the perception (and there are so few beating this tough game). 

But, as I think we all know, this game (long term) is process versus any given result. And as we understand more and more about beating the game we learn more from someone's process, than them posting winning tickets before a race is run. 

If we take this as a given - ITP wins long term - we can start to understand that elusive process (he's open with it after all), and in my view it will make us better players. 

Additionally, I spoke with another successful player this week, and he noted he thinks it's important to remember, it's our process and our results that matter. There are a number of ways to win at the races, and each perfects their way in some form. If your process drives good results long-term it's a good process. 

I think this is why Chris's Bet with the Best podcast is so influential and important. We can learn something from each player interviewed regarding their process, and decide where it fits or doesn't fit into ours. 

Gabe talked about betting at the bell in harness racing, where sometimes players box numbers with longshots who show they're going to leave the gate, resulting in lower payoffs. It truly is an edge, and like most edges there are those taking advantage of it. 

It's weird because from what I've seen, the same thing doesn't really happen in the Thoroughbreds. Years ago when Betfair was alive in the Tundra, a friend of mine, as well as myself, played a lot of races. We both noticed that horses who act up at the gate would not get faded in market. This seemed illogical, but when we started charting it over a decent sample size they were probably right not to. 

I wonder if our sample was not big enough and it's actually true that fractious horses at the gate are lower ROI. Maybe o_crunk can figure it out, but for us we stopped cancelling bets because it didn't seem to make a difference.  

You know how I love making money from my advertisers. I mean, seriously, I have no scruples. 
Peta could advertise here; Saudi Arabia could; Baffert stable, here's my email! Their money is green and my ADW needs a deposit. 

However, for the first time I rejected an ad. This one. It just kind of creeped me out. 

Thanks once again for reading the Super Spectacular Blog

As always, be nice on twitter and go cash some amazing tickets. 

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