While many people bet on horse races every day and of them, many handicap the horse races, few actually make a profit in the long run. There can be many reasons why so many try to make money but few actually do. One of the biggest problems that the would be turf accountants have to overcome is knowing when a wager is a good one or a bad one.
That involves several mathematical equations, but can finally be boiled down to just one. While the calculations may appear simple, however, it is diabolically difficult to arrive at the correct conclusions. That is where experience and knowledge come into the picture. You may have played the races for many years, but do you know how to pick winners that will show a long term gain?
Don’t feel bad if you don’t. First of all, the deck is stacked against you. Back in the good old days, when horse racing was in it’s golden age, legal bookies used to set up shop on the lawn at Saratoga race track and compete for the horse players’ business. That competition was good for the horse player because it meant that he or she could get the lowest takeout imaginable. The book makers would operate on slim margins in order to attract the action.
It wasn’t uncommon in those halcyon days for a man to make a living playing the horses. He might only be making ten percent on his bets, but if he placed enough wagers and handled enough money, he’d come out ahead with some good handicapping and often with inside information. Like all good things, however, the legal book makers came to an end, thanks to government intervention. When pari-mutuel wagering replaced them, the take out or vig, short for vigorish, went up and the nut that the gambler was trying to crack got bigger and harder.
If a bookmaker was charging 5% and a horse player was 15% better than the crowd, he could make 10%. Now, if a player is 15% better than the crowd, he’ll be lucky to break even with the average win takeout well above 15% in many areas. You also have to figure in breakage and when you do, goodbye profit and hello poverty.
So just what is that equation that will turn you into a profitable horse player? It is probability and odds. In other words, how likely the horse is to win against what it will pay when it does. Simply put, you are betting situations, not horses. You look for situations that have historically produced winners at a certain rate and then look for horses in that situation that are at odds that offset the cost of the bet.
If a horse in a certain situation, things you’ve noted in the form, will win half the time, then you need odds of better than even money to make a profit. If you spend a base bet of $2 on 10 races, you’ve invested $20. If your horse wins 5 times and pays more than $4 each time, you’ve made over $20. It sounds deceptively easy, but horse players spend hours, days, months and sometimes even years trying to identify those situations.