postheadericon A Basic Guide To Playing The Ponies

Everyone quickly understands the basics of sports gambling, because its as simple as the sports themselves. Horse racing, on the other hand, is a more difficult form of gambling to approach successfully. While there are some similarities between sports gambling and horse handicapping, success in one by no means assures even competency in the other. CBS Sports icon Jimmy ‘The Greek’ Snyder was by all accounts a first rate sports handicapper, but downright awful at forecasting horse races.

Below are some very basic concepts that you need to know to enjoy a day at the horse track. This information doesn’t even scratch the surface of what you’ll need to know if your goal is to become a serious horse betting devotee. If that is the case, you’re best advised to check out one of the many theoretical books devoted to the subject.

Reading in Fundamental: The first thing you should do when you arrive at the horse track is to purchase a track program and a copy of the Daily Racing Form. The Daily Racing Form (or DRF for short) is the Wall Street Journal of the horse handicapping set. The track program will offer much of the same information about the specific track, but is frequently in a more user friendly format than the often arcane DRF. The basic stats you’ll find in these publications are the names of the horses, jockeys and trainers, the morning line odds, and the types of bets available for each race. You’ll also have past performance charts, which are the bread and butter of serious horse handicappers. These charts reveal a lot about a horse and what they’ve done on the racetrack, including its record, where it ran, the quality of competition it ran against, and what position the horse was in at various points in the race. Most tracks have customer service types that are helpful in clearing up anything you don’t understand. While asking the personnel in a sports book who they like isn’t a wise idea, its OK at the track for a reason well now discuss”you’re not playing against them.

You’re not playing against the house: One thing to keep in mind when playing the horses that is drastically different from sports betting is that you’re not playing against ‘the house’, you’re playing against other betters. The track just accepts and pays bets, taking out a cut (called the ‘takeout’) for their services. The track odds are determined by the money bet on each horse. So where do odds in the newspaper or program originate? These are known as the ‘morning odds’ or ‘morning line’ and is basically an educated guess as to where the betting will go. They can be helpful as a handicapping tool, but may or may not reflect what will happen in the actual betting.

So where do the odds in the newspaper or program come from? The so-called morning odds are basically educated guesses as to where the wagering will go. Its roughly analogous to overnight lines in sports gambling. They can be helpful as a guideline, but may or may not be indicative as to how the actual wagering will go.

The Basics of Handicapping: Even expert handicappers approach the sport differently and, like his sports gambling counterpart, may place greater emphasis on the importance of certain data than other handicappers. Some handicappers place a great deal of weight on a horses past performances, including the quality of opposition hes run against. Others place greater value on recent workouts, and still others go to the paddock to eyeball the horses and try to determine which ones are ready to run.

Once the handicapper starts to work out what he thinks will transpire in a race, he has to weigh that against the prices available on each horse. A likely winner might not be a good bet if his price is too high. Conversely, a long shot could be an overlay if his odds–and potential payback–is high enough. It’s all a matter of doing the math–its importance in gambling alone justifies a greater emphasis on the subject in American high schools.

Horses and Trainers: Some handicappers place a great deal of importance on the horses breeding lineage”the quality of his parents and grandparents “as an indication to his performance potential. Trainers, like Bob Baffertt, can also be an important consideration much in the same way that coaching can play an important role in sports wagering.

The horse’s jockey: Jockeys are free agents, meaning that they get paid on their performance. In theory, this means that they’ll do their utmost to win in every given race. While there are a few exceptions, many serious horse handicappers downplay the importance of the jockey. Assuming the horse’s ‘mount’ is competent, there are much more salient factors to consider when handicapping a race than the jockey.

As in any form of gambling, don’t bet more than you can afford to lose and in particular when you’re starting out there’s no reason to be making big wagers.

Ross Everett is a widely published well known writer specializing in price per head, horse racing, travel and fencing. He is a staff handicapper for Anatta Sports where he is in charge of providing daily how to become a bookie to a number of Internet and broadcast media outlets. He lives in Las Vegas with three dogs and a wombat.

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