Day At The Track

Harness bettors are cool. Yes, they are.

11:04 PM 20 Dec 2007 NZDT
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I write about horseplayer issues on my blog (Pull The Pocket) quite a bit. Let's face it, horseplayers are a forgotten lot. To other gamblers we might be "those crazy guys who bet that egregious rake."

To the general public we are even worse; perhaps we are "degenerates who yell at TV screens when we lose".

Being a harness player is even worse. We all know what people say about our game.

oker players, on the other hand are considered "those really smart math guys." You know them; they are "the guys in school people cheated off of during a physics test." They have skills everyone would like to have, or dream of having. What are the odds I can get a nine on the river for a pair? What are my pot odds? Poker players know those nasty math stats. Boy they are impressive, huh?

hen a poker player wins at a table in a made for TV poker event, we are stunned. He jumps out of his chair. He just knew that card would come on the river. It makes everyone want to be like him. Being the next Phil Ivey is considered cool. Being the next Pittsburgh Phil? Well that isn't. After all Pittsburgh Phil plays horses. He is just lucky if he wins. He probably loses anyway, right?

his is something that plagues our game and in my opinion is a reason we are losing gambler market share. Poker players are cool and smart. Horseplayers, especially harness horseplayers are not. I am here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth.

f you are looking for an intellectual challenge, I can think of no other like racing. There are myriad factors to look at when handicapping. Not only do you have to try and figure out who is the best horse, you have to figure out what kind of trip he will get. After that is done your task is just starting. Now you have to figure out how to wager. Then you have to have the intestinal fortitude to carry through on your opinion.

ext time you see someone go all in at a turn card, think of this scenario for horseplayers: It is race 4 at the Meadowlands. It's a ten horse field of claimers. The 4 horse you remember, so you check your historical database. He was at the Meadowlands two years ago for a race just like this and he won impressively for the same connections. This week he is shipping just like he did then.

Adding to that, Brian Sears chose this trainer's horse over a Mark Silva trained horse who looks like he has a shot. He chose this horse two years ago, too. He is 5-1. Furthermore, you have handicapped the race and there is no contentious speed.

The nine horse has a bit of speed and he is a bomb. You check his running line and see he had no parked out symbols. You click over to watch the replay. He was boxed and he had a bit of pace. John Campbell is back aboard and he has to be confident in the animal this week. You think he might leave hard and try to sit a two hole.

Conversely, you watched the race on the favorite last week. He seemed flat, and he looks no better tonight on the track, his ears are not pricked. He looks disinterested. You decide to pitch that horse from any exotics.

ou run a Harville formula to calculate fair exacta odds. Fair odds say that our sneaky shipper over-top the Campbell horse should pay $110 in a cold exacta. You click over to your tote and notice the exacta is currently $200. Overlay. Good edge. Let's take it. Furthermore, since the chalk looks poor, there has to be some value in the superfecta and trifecta pools.

hen you execute and make your plays, all with proper bet sizing to make sure you stay away from gamblers ruin.

he bell goes. They are off and pacing. Brian Sears leaves hard on your choice, and with no one leaving except Brian, John Campbell fires out. The fractions are soft - 57 to the half, just like you thought and you are sitting one-two. The chalk pulls first-over and looks like he is pacing in molasses.

He has no go whatsoever and he clogs the flow nicely for our purposes. Sneaking up the inside, which is a speedway in our pace scenario, are two longshots. The wire nears and the race goes our way. We win. We sweep every pool and things have to be paying nice. Now we wait for prices.

e took home $12,000 in one minute and fifty-four seconds. We don't have a reaction. No one is watching. We turn the page and try to hit the next race, just like we did the last.

till think harness horseplayers are degenerate gamblers?

ur game is a skill and intellectual challenge which I think is without parallel. We have players with skills who would boggle people's minds. Let's start promoting them. We might just end up promoting the game at the same time.

his is a guest article from Pull the Pocket - who gives harness racing opinion and happenings. Betting, racing and the state of the game. Check it out.

Want to guest post on Harnesslink click here to learn more

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