7 Self-Destructive Racetrack Habits to Avoid

650013 show bc betting ticketWe all have a weakness that can hurt our bottom line. Some self-destructive habits are more benign than others, but some may be costing you more than you think in the long run.

#1 Seeking Approval

We all have that one acquaintance at the track that throws money around like it is growing on trees. He will show you all his tickets too. He has $100 to win on this horse, $200 worth of exacta combinations, and took a flyer on a $50 daily double wager. He acts like he is making a living at the track (and you know he doesn’t even make a part-time living at the track)!  You look down at your tickets and see your $5 to win and a modest $1 exacta that cost you $6. You feel embarrassed to show your wagers in return. Even if you win, you know he’ll tell you that you should have bet more!

Don’t be. Besides, the only one who should care how much you wager is you! No need to feel inadequate over wager size!

Any of my track friends will tell you that I don’t make huge wagers. I plan and play my wagers carefully and vary the value based on confidence. After all, it’s not the size of the wager that matters, it’s how you use it!

#2 Shifting the Blame

“What a poor ride by the jock”

“Why’d he take him to the lead so early?”

“He doesn’t like the slop”

Some excuses are valid, but it can’t be every race. If it is, it may be a problem with your handicapping that you need to address instead of continually ignoring!

#3 Failing to Take Action

Have you ever heard the expression, “scared money don’t make money”?

How many times have you ever handicapped a race, watched the race, and then realized you would have made a killing at the windows… if you had only bet?

Chances are that you only have a handful of races that you feel good about on a given day. If you don’t play the races you like, which races are you playing?

#4 Feeding Distractions

Whether you are playing the races at home, the track, or the OTB, there are always a ton of distractions no matter where you are. Distractions may be focusing on social media instead of the post parade. Maybe you are spending more time at the bar (or getting beer from your refrigerator at home) than looking at the will pays or the way that the tote board is moving. Maybe you missed getting your wager in because you were too busy tweeting?

While you do want to have fun while horseplaying, you do need some level of focus to be successful!

#5 You Don’t Educate Yourself

Any successful horseplayer will tell you that the game is changing and evolving. Yet, the same horseplayers will also tell you that there is a ton of great information out there to base your handicapping skills on. There are a ton of websites, blogs, and books available to be read and digested. I am a firm believer in reading anything I can get my hands on and finding at least one nugget of information to take away and add to my handicapping arsenal.

My late Uncle Dutch gave me a “required reading list” when he was teaching me how he handicapped and played the races. I still have a fair number of books with yellowing pages sitting on the bookcase in my home office – Tom Ainslie, Andy Beyer, and Dan Geer to name a few. Read and absorb all the information that is out there!

#6 The Need to Be Perfect

You are never going to win every wager. There is too much risk and volatility when the gate opens for you ever to win 100% of your wagers. Sometimes you are going to get beat by a horse that is over-performing with no sound reasoning on paper. Accept it and move on.

#7 Not Having a Budget

We all have a different financial situation. Some people have better paying jobs than others and everyone has a different situation at home. I have three kids to think about sending to college and want to continue paying my mortgage and utilities. I want to retire before I am too old to enjoy retirement!

I go to the track with a set bankroll. I don’t try to force the action, I play what I feel good about. Some days the bankroll budget is set higher than others depending on what races are playable. You can’t continue to throw good money after bad and expect to come out ahead!

What other self-destructive horseplaying habits have you seen or been guilty of?

Ray Wallin
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 ray.wallin@live.com.

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