Friday, September 22, 2023

Sports Bettors Arguing About "Peripherals" & They're What Horseplayers Use Every Day to Seek an Edge

Like most of you I enjoy looking at the gamble, and that's brought me into the sports betting world for some time now. 

As betting on, in this case, football is concerned, we've seen more and more interest with the proliferation of legal gambling in both the U.S. and Canada. This interest has spawned a lot of discussion. One of those recently struck me.

Here we have a bettor discount metrics that go beyond the published statistics. These are advanced metrics, like pass rush win rates, yards per play, removing turnovers from expected points or yards, etc. Mitchell forcefully says "simple stats tell untrue stories."

Of course that's true! Yet time and time again - peruse the interwebs for these discussions and you will find them from all types of sports bettors - you'll see or get an argument. 

Meanwhile back at the track, Andy Beyer was writing about fancy stats and the untruth of the top line wins and losses or final times since the 1970's when he devised a better speed figure. These final times have morphed into performance figures and more with Thorograph and others. 

Everyone with a hope to beat the game has been looking at trips on replay and adjusting final times and figures based on it. 

The often used TimeformUS pace projector is exactly about projecting future success and we'd never think of arguing about it. 

*Everything* we do as horseplayers is about predicting future success based on the event (i.e. the race), and discounting (or enhancing) previous factors in the PP's. 

I think horseplayers can learn a lot from good sports bettors. Even many casual sports bettors pay attention to 4.5% win takeout and line shopping and money management, for example, and we all should too. 

But boy can sports bettors learn a lot from horseplayers. When it comes to match ups, unique race modeling, hidden positives and scoping what's *not* in the PP's, in my view, from the most casual player to the most seasoned, we're light years ahead. 

Have a nice weekend everyone.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Thoughts on the Spa Meet that Was

I, like many of you, watched most of the Saratoga meet this season. I figure I'd jot down a few thoughts. 

  • Handle was down only 9%. Considering the weather, the scratches and all the rest, this is a strong number. Many years ago I turned to a NYRA card, saw off the turf and a three horse scratched down turf to dirt field and it generated more than almost every other track I was watching. That brand is bonkers. But still, only 9% is surprising to me. 
  • The pick 5 debacle and the response to the breakdowns, to me, is a symptom of on the fly confusion in a sport such as ours. The left hand often doesn't know what the right hand is doing when things are happening fast. I'd hope, and expect, they work on a plan for upcoming meets and this gets better; including updated protocols on scratching, which even after the breakdowns seemed somewhat capricious. 
  • The stewarding is a sore spot, and it'd be foolish to say these are just whiny bettors whining. I'd love to see an overhaul to breed more consistency in the judges room. A good place to start - if a horse is getting herded or bumped near a wire and he or she loses by a nose or a head, it's by all logic and reason a toss. You can't let some go and some not go when the margin is so thin. 
  • NYRA's team and those who follow it continues to be pretty awesome, in my view, and Phil's.  Aragona's lines were solid, his analysis strong. Say what you want about Serling, and most of us do, but he adds sizzle and sharpness and thoughts to his picks. The paddock crew is very good because they obviously do the work. We can tell when we're getting the right information and what's being mailed in and there's no mailing it in with Maggie and Acacia. 
  • I don't think Frank had a super strong meet, and I know some agree. But with race callers it's simply someone's opinion more often than not. Maybe I'm still smarting when he pretty much called my pick 5 key home when he was staggering and I got beat and it's jaded me. 
  • Short stakes fields can be the norm and I doubt we're doing anything about that. But one thing I'd like to see a powerful entity like NYRA spearhead, is building a system where the takeout is directly correlated to field size. Two four to fives, a six to one and two twelve to ones is silly. They're big enough to do this and set a new market for others in the sport to follow. 
  • I was not overly sold on the whole kicking CRW's out at two minutes to post thing, but after watching win prices and betting accordingly, I was pretty pleased with this change. It did affect the changing of prices near the bell and I was confident that when I bet I was going to get my number. 
  • I was down this meet, which started well with a nice pick 4. I handicapped well and was on a lot of the right horses, but I simply couldn't get rid of the seconditis, and failed to convert way too many last legs of the multis. The biggest kick in the ass - a $20k score on a skinny $10 pick 5 ticket with the chalk going, and a $10k score on the third choice in the same race with a $4 ticket. They ran third and fourth. Oh this game we play. 
For a full recap of thoughts on the meet, Chuck and Barry's pod is up and fresh this morning here.

Chris's Bet with the Best pod has Dan on here.

Have a great Tuesday everyone

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