By Ray Wallin
Everyone gets burned out at some point. Whether it is at work, at home, coaching your kid’s sports team, or making your living playing the races, no one is immune to burnout.
What are some of the signs that you are suffering from handicapping burnout?
You love racing. You live, eat, breathe, and sleep racing. Your wife uses your love of racing as a cure for her insomnia. Yet lately is has been different.
You lack any interest or enthusiasm in the sport you love. You aren’t getting the same satisfaction in handicapping or winning. As a matter of fact you are more or less indifferent to the results of the races you take the time to look at. You are finding excuses about why you shouldn’t handicap. Cornhole is on ESPN2 and you can’t help but watch it. You are avoiding doing something you love.
You download the past performances. You even print them out. But you are going through the motions. You are doing the bare minimum, like Joanna at Chotchkies.
You know exactly what happens when you do the minimum. You know what happens when you do a half-ass job. You know what happens when you try to take too many shortcuts.
You start losing and your bankroll suffers.
As gamblers we have highs and low, but are you still in a lull? Are you hemorrhaging money on every race you play? Are you unlucky or are you just not handicapping to your normal level?
Disinterest in tasks leads to poor performance. You find yourself making errors identifying simple spot plays. You are completely missing the obvious when assessing pace scenarios and beating yourself up after the fact each time.
Maybe you are physically drained. Maybe you are emotionally drained. Maybe you are both. Maybe you even feel like the Pepto Bismol commercial and have a nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, and diarrhea.
Either way fatigue, stress, or not having the mental capacity to process numbers or figures and how the horses relate to each other will take a negative toll on your handicapping and betting.
So now what?
I’m not going to tell you to “suck it up buttercup.” I am going to tell you to change your attitude about handicapping. If you are viewing it as a chore, it will feel like a chore. Try to view each race as an opportunity to find a winner. If you don’t like how the race sets up, mark it as “do not play” and move on to the next opportunity.
Maybe you were doing too much. I know when I worked as a handicapper for various websites in the past the constant churn of handicapping two circuits full time (Monmouth Park and Parx, which was still Philadelphia Park at the time) along with two nights a week of the Meadowlands, I was doing too much. While I was able to meet my commitments to the website, I barely played any races. I handicapped too many things to keep any of the races fresh in my head or even get a good feel.
Decrease your handicapping volume. Focus on your home or go-to track. Triage the race card to give yourself the best handicapping and betting opportunities.
It isn’t as easy as taking some time off. The problems you have will still be there when you decide to get back on the proverbial horse.
You need to reignite the passion you have for the sport. Instead of walking away from horse racing cold turkey, take he approach of appreciate the sport more. Attend the races but focus on the beauty of the horses in the paddock. Spend time people-watching. Talk to and get to know the inner workings of Rail Guy. Hang out near the winner’s circle. Enjoy the finer food selections at the track that you never bother to check out. Instead of pouring over past performances the night before, simply watch the races instead. Focus on smaller details within the race you never thought about. When do the horses switch leads? What physical traits did the horse show that was positive or negative?
You’ll still be around horse racing, but in a somewhat different capacity.
Burnout is hard to recognize, it doesn’t go away on its own. You are the only one who can change the situation. By changing your attitude, what you are doing, and how you are doing it you can recharge yourself and be back to your old profitable self in no time.
Ray Wallin is a licensed civil engineer and part-time handicapper who has had a presence on the Web since 2000 for various sports and horse racing websites and through his personal blog. Introduced to the sport over the course of a misspent teenage summer at Monmouth Park by his Uncle Dutch, a professional gambler, he quickly fell in love with racing and has been handicapping for over 25 years.
Ray’s background in engineering, along with his meticulous nature and fascination with numbers, parlay into his ability to analyze data; keep records; notice emerging trends; and find new handicapping angles and figures. While specializing in thoroughbred racing, Ray also handicaps harness racing, Quarter Horse racing, baseball, football, hockey, and has been rumored to have calculated the speed and pace ratings on two squirrels running through his backyard.
Ray likes focusing on pace and angle plays while finding the middle ground between the art and science of handicapping. When he is not crunching numbers, Ray enjoys spending time with his family, cheering on his alma mater (Rutgers University), fishing, and playing golf.
Ray’s blog, which focuses on his quest to make it to the NHC Finals while trying to improve his handicapping abilities can be found at www.jerseycapper.blogspot.com Ray can also be found on Twitter (@rayw76) and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.