Gambling Facts and Fictions
Professional Handicappers - too good to be true
Gambling Facts and Fictions: The Anti-Gambling Handbook to get yourself to stop gambling, quit gambling or never start gambling
Copyright © 2004
by Stephen Katz
Library of Congress: 2004094023
Professional Handicappers - too good to be true
You may consider yourself or want to be a horse racing handicapper. What a great life it would be if you were a winning professional horse racing handicapper. You could work whenever you wanted. You could make unlimited amounts of money. You could travel all over the world and make withdrawals at each racetrack. You could live like a king. After all, horse racing is called the sport of kings. Sound too good to be true? Many books written about horse race handicapping would like you to believe that winning money can be true. The horse race gambling industry would also like you to believe this.
Betting on horses utilizing handicapping is the same as betting on random numbers as far as a profitable outcome is concerned because all of these statistics give you only an indication of an outcome, never a predictable outcome. Racetracks take out an average of 15% to 30% of the money from each betting pool. This averages out to about a 20% takeout. Taking out this 20% from each betting pool, along with racehorses being very temperamental and fragile animals, means that making money betting on horses is impossible. The next chapter will clearly show all this. The popularity of horse race betting among certain people who may believe that someday they could make money, makes this one of the biggest sucker games in the gambling industry.
The mathematics of the racetrack taking 20% out of each pari-mutuel betting pool is a simple recipe for bankroll destruction. The greatest horse race handicappers who ever lived and ever will live, get their bankrolls crushed every time by this 20% takeout. The greatest handicappers may win for a day or a week, but the truths of the Factual Laws of Gambling will always catch up and obliterate the winning money and the original bankroll. The Factual Laws of Gambling applies to every human being on earth including you. Whenever there is any takeout or house edge, then eventually all players will be ground out and lose their entire bankroll. As longtime horse race bettors know, losing an entire bankroll does not take very long especially with the availability to bet on hundreds of races per day through simulcasting.
It does not matter what sophisticated handicapping method or gambling system you may try. The Factual Laws of Gambling applies to you. Every gambler is losing money at the horse racetrack. Horse race gambling is a suckerís game which continues from the myth that handicapping can be profitable. Anyone who writes or talks about a system or method for making money gambling at the racetrack is an absolute boldfaced liar. There never was and never will be a system or method for making money betting on horses.
The only way to beat the horse races is to never bet on them. The addicted players at the racetrack which are the folks who go there several times or more per week, each one of them wishes on their dear life that they could get even for all the years of losing money. Unfortunately these players will never get back their lost money. Fortunately if everyone stays away from the racetrack starting right now, then everyone including the addicted players from this moment on are officially even. So today or any other day do not start gambling at the racetrack.
In the racetrack parking lot take a look sometime at the cars of the gamblers. A numerous amount are old, dented or shabby. By staying away from the guaranteed losses at the racetrack, these people would have the money to buy a better automobile. They suffer not just with an inferior car, but throughout their gambling lives by getting shortchanged on many other things that money can buy because of losing money again and again at the racetrack.
For most gamblers the yearned for end point is to make money. You already know or will know after reading this book that making money at the racetrack and all other forms of house gambling is impossible. You will fully know and understand why it is impossible. Whatever thrills you wish to seek, fun you want to have, self-abuse you want to inflict upon yourself or for whatever reason at all please do not do it by gambling. Gambling is too expensive. You can never afford it so stay away from it. Do not go up to the racetrack betting window. Do not walk into the racetrack. Do not drive into the racetrack parking lot. Always drive by the racetrack and all other gambling buildings and sites. Avoid them permanently. Any perceived fun, recreation and entertainment of wagering will always eventually turn into financial loss or ruin. You do not need any of that so do not start the process of making a first bet of the day. Get through each day by avoiding a first bet. Making a first bet gambling whether it is the first bet of the day, the first bet in five years or the first bet of your life, will result in losing money to some degree. So never make that first bet.
Throughout your life, you will meet or hear about people with success stories in all walks of life. From business owners to janitors who methodically earn money, save it as best they can and then gradually accumulate wealth of some kind. Even a janitor can live a decent, prosperous life. You cannot accumulate wealth or live a prosperous life by gambling. It is not possible. You can only lose money by gambling so why do it? Please do not do it!
There are the so-called professional horse race handicapping experts who write books, newspaper racing articles and have TV and radio shows with their expert opinions. They always say that the handicapping game is tough, but there is usually inference that with their advice, statistical study and some good luck, then you can make money betting on horses. These "experts" are complete frauds and they of course know that. The only money they make is from the media center or racetrack that pays them to expound their sham about handicapping.
Would someone beating the horse races write a book or teach a class telling you how to do it? Of course not! If they were making a fortune at the racetrack, would they need to work for a newspaper writing horse racing stories and handicapping articles? Of course not! Would they write articles and books with "proof" and "documentation" about systems which they know will never work. Of course they would because that is exactly what they have done and continue to do.
These so-called and self-called professional handicappers have very convincingly told many people that the impossible dream of beating the horse races is real. The only real thing about making money at the racetrack is that it is an impossible dream. These authors are all lying phonies. They deceive you with their "speed system" this or their "pace system" that. In some cases they may have even believed themselves that they could win because they may have had a short-term winning streak. Of course when the truths of the Factual Laws of Gambling kick in and then the authors lose back all of the winning money and more, they conveniently forget to mention that in their books. As the Factual Laws of Gambling asserts, there are not any real winning streaks in gambling. In gambling, these authors will lose and their pied-piper lemming readers will always fall off the edge of the financial cliff when following this misguided advice. So do not let yourself get caught up in believing these articles and books that the authors know are not true and now you know are not true. Gambling industry authors are further discussed in other chapters.
You cannot even place $2 on a horse race because you never know what possible path of financial destruction which that could lead. The absolute worst thing that can happen to horse racetrack patrons is to win some money the first time they go. Then they could possibly get hooked on the perceived fun, recreation and entertainment of watching the races, rooting for the horses and believing money can be made. All of that always leads to financial loss. It is not worth it. Ask any of those addicted racetrack players if they would permanently give up watching and betting on horses if they could have back all or part of the money lost betting on horses over the years. Every one of them who is not senile will give you a very emphatic, "Yes!"
You absolutely, positively, do not have any chance of permanently winning money at the horse racetrack. So do not make that first or next bet. Try watching a horse race live or on TV without betting on it. It is actually boring. Even watching the Kentucky Derby is a bore without making a bet. Horse racing is interesting to the horse owners who try to win the purse monies. So let the horse owners spend their money on horses and race them. Do not gamble and support them. In fact, horse racing is so pathetic that even most of the horse owners also lose money. So just forget about any idea of buying and racing horses. Even the owners betting on their own horses when thinking that their horses are in shape ready to win, also lose money betting in the long run. Just ask any of them and they will have to answer truthfully that they lose money betting on their own horses at the racetrack. If racehorse owners want to bet as to who owns the fastest horse that day, then so be it. But you must not support them. Gamblers are paying for virtually all purses through the 20% takeout of their wagering.
There are gamblers out there who will not read this book or will read this book but not follow the guidance. They will continue to chase the illusion of gambling paradise. Do not be one of them. Indulge yourself in the finer things of life. Save or spend your money wisely, not gamble it foolishly. Avoid horse race betting and similar garbage such as dog race betting in their entirety. The next time that you hear about the million dollar purse of the Kentucky Derby, you will feel good knowing that you did not help pay for any of it.
If you know of a gambling friend who continues to bet, then get him or her a copy of this book to help out. Though you should not permanently lend out this book. Even when you have quit gambling, you could still get sudden urges to gamble. Many events can trigger an urge. Keep this book in a handy place to refresh your memory if an urge for gambling arises so that the urge can be extinguished. Get in a habit of picking up this book and reading it as a reminder to prevent yourself from gambling. If you have a relapse, realize while doing it what a foolish thing it is. You should stop and go home rather than staying and allowing the inevitable to happen. The inevitable happening of course is going broke.
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Special for racing forum members at Network 54:
Thanks for posting the link to my website. I have been to most of the East Coast thoroughbred and harness race tracks. I was at Belmont Park when Seattle Slew won the Triple Crown. I was there the following year when Affirmed won the Triple Crown. I used to love horse racing.
Including simulcasting, I have probably watched over 250,000 horse races. My problem was I loved horse racing too much and got addicted to it. Horse racing certainly didn't love me. I needed to quit and through information such as what is in the book, it got me to quit. I actually havenít placed any type of gambling bet in over 3½ years and never intend to again.
Iím not going to pretend that all the railbirds out there are going to stop watching horse racing even if they read the book. But it is hoped that at least the information can stop some from getting devastated by the gambling aspect of it. If the following chapter can help one person on your forum to avoid getting financially ruined at the racetrack, then it will have been worth it. This chapter I believe cuts to the core of what horse race handicapping is really all about.
Chapter 32: Horse racing handicapping
You may believe that you are a superior handicapper. You may believe that you are very smart and eventually one day could be a superior handicapper. The fact is that all of you superior handicappers, including the best handicapper in the world, will always lose money at the exact same rate as a person selecting random numbers. If all horse players, superior or otherwise, think about how much money you have lost at the racetrack over the years, then you should become convinced of this fact. This fact will never change for any of you.
It does not matter if you know the horse stats, trainer stats, jockey stats, turf stats, mud stats, pace stats, owner stats or any system stats. You will always lose money at the racetrack. Even logging all of these stats into the best computer in the world will not make any difference towards making money. With the huge 20% pari-mutuel takeout, there is not any possible chance to win.
There are not any overlays or underlays at the racetrack. You and the rest of the betting public may think there are but these overlays and underlays do not exist as far as profitable betting is concerned. With all of the handicapping variables both known and unknown, it is impossible to realistically assess all of these variables accurately before the race starts. That 5 to 1 odds horse that you like, maybe it should realistically be 3 to 1 or less, or maybe it should realistically be 7 to 1 or more. You perceive that it is an overlay at 5 to 1 when you think it should be 3 to 1. But with its physical condition that you cannot possibly know about and maybe even the trainer does not know about, the odds on that horse should realistically be 7 to 1 or more. So you cannot possibly know before a race whether a particular horse is a true overlay or underlay. Of course you and everyone else can see overlays and underlays after the race is over but then it is too late. There is not anytime soon going to be a racetrack that is going to allow betting after the race is over. Nostradamus himself could not accurately forecast a true overlay or underlay at the racetrack. Making money handicapping is impossible and will always be impossible. You will never be the first human being to beat the races.
You may believe that you are a superior handicapper because you can throw out those long shots which you think cannot win. Yes, long shots are terrible bets. Many times these long shots are entered in a race simply to fill it up. The betting public prefers races with lots of horses. An owner would rather have an overmatched or nearly lame horse running in a race with what might be some hope of picking up some of the purse monies, rather than having the horse standing around in the barn. The owner gets some moments of excitement as maybe the long shot horse takes the lead for awhile during the beginning of the race before eventually getting tired then passed by other horses. The trainer gets to justify the expensive training fees for the ownerís horse by at least trying with the horse. Of course sometimes these long shots do win. Many times though a 25 to 1 long shot maybe should realistically be 100 to 1 or more. But long shots are just a small portion of the total betting pool. Horses with odds of 25 to 1 or less always make up most and sometimes all of the betting pool. But just for example sake, ahead of time you handicapped the race and threw out the long shots and they will not win. By taking out these long shots, you have cut the racetrack takeout as far as your bet is concerned, from a huge 20% to approximately a huge 17% to 19%. Throwing out these long shots did not help you much. You are still left with a huge takeout.
You may believe that you are a superior handicapper because in a twelve horse field, you threw out the favorites which lost. Well your bet on that 5 to 1 horse also lost so that was not such a superior bet. Of course in a race with twelve horses, eleven of those horses have to lose, barring any dead heats. It does not take any handicapping at all to know that. So you definitely were not such a handicapping genius when saying before the race that you knew certain horses were not going to win, when for sure eleven out of twelve were not going to win.
You may believe that you are a superior handicapper because you can predict how the race will setup. You can predict how the speed horses, stalker horses and closer horses will affect one another, thereby predicting the winner. How often does a race really setup and run the way you thought it would, even when you do pick a winner? Sure you can spot that pure speed horse that initially gets out front all the time, but so can everyone else which is reflected in the odds of the horse. You cannot possibly know how this front runner will do, whether it will stay in front throughout the race or how any of the other horses in the race will do, with enough certainty to overcome the huge 20% racetrack takeout.
The thousands of pari-mutuel public bettors already have all the given quantitative and qualitative information factored into the betting pools with their selections. But with the upcoming list of doomsday problems plus other reasons discussed later in this chapter, along with the huge 20% takeout, your chances are hopeless of making money by handicapping. Horse race handicapping is a suckerís game so give it up now or do not ever start it. A common illusion of handicappers is believing that somehow they really did handicap the winner. But all they actually did was simply choose a random number and it happened to win. But the payoffs at the racetrack are a huge 20% less than what they really should be.
The rest of this chapter will hammer the biggest nail into the handicapping coffin. This is for all of you handicappers who purchase thoroughbred, standardbred and quarterhorse news forms and stat sheets. This will show precisely why all of those speed figures and recorded times are completely useless for making money at the racetrack. Sure this printed material gives you an indication of the best horse and is a guide for the basic class and value of a horse. But that information and all other printed information will never be good enough to overcome the huge 20% takeout in order to make money gambling on horses. The precise reason is actually very simple. It is because of the nature of racehorses. The erratic enough nature of racehorses makes it impossible to make money gambling on them. If there was a 1% takeout, you would still eventually lose all of your money. With racetracks taking out a huge 20%, your bankroll is always quickly racing towards doom.
Here is statistically and realistically why your horse race gambling bankroll will always be doomed and usually doomed quickly. In horse racing clocking time of the races, the time honored handicapping measuring stick is one second equals 5 horse lengths. In an average thoroughbred six furlongs (¾ of a mile) race time for example of 1:10 (one minute and 10 seconds), this would equal 70 seconds. These 70 seconds multiplied by the 5 lengths per second equals 350 lengths (70 seconds x 5 lengths = 350 lengths). So a six furlongs horse race is equivalent to approximately 350 horse lengths. Only just a small 1% difference either way in the performance of a horse improving or worsening means a difference of 3.5 lengths (1% of 350 lengths is 3.5 lengths) each way or a spread of 7 full lengths. There is not any possible, realistic, predictable way that you, the trainer or the owner really knows if a horse in physical racing condition is going to be just a small 1% better or worse than its last race of one or more weeks ago.
Then handicappers have the added hopeless task of factoring in not only the horse they want to bet with its 1% or 7 lengths spread differential, but also all of the other horses in the race as to whether they will improve or worsen by only 1% or 7 lengths. A racehorse could maintain the same form or could possibly change by 2% or more which could very realistically be a 14 lengths or more spread. Can you see what an unsolvable puzzle it really is trying to handicap horses? You cannot possibly know the exact physical condition of a racehorse, especially from a program or newspaper, in regards to trying to make money betting against a huge 20% takeout.
So it is plain to see that there is a very probable 7 to 14 lengths form differential from the last race of a horse because of a very probable 1% to 2% change in its physical condition. Then with factoring in the physical conditions of all of the other horses in the race, trying to make money figuring out the winner is the same thing as picking random numbers. You may believe that you are handicapping winners when picking a few. But in actual true reality fact, you are simply playing random numbers on all horse bets and a few happened to win for you. But when they win for you, only 80% instead of 100% of the monies in the betting pool are received because of the 20% racetrack takeout. You will go broke whether you bet on favorites or long shots. You will go broke whether you bet on speed horses, stalkers or closers. You will go broke betting on good jockeys and trainers. You will go broke betting on bad jockeys and trainers. It does not matter what you bet on or how you bet, you will always go broke at the racetrack.
Racehorses are big strong animals. For centuries they have been bred for speed. This breeding has produced a very fast animal but with some fragility. Their legs are especially fragile. So fragile are race horses that their physical condition can change just as they are warming up before a race and can easily change when running full speed during a race. A horse can look great in the post parade and warming up but may just about be ready to go lame. A horse could be training great for weeks and then not run fast at all on race day. Every longtime horse race player has bet on a "hot tip" horse that was training great but wound up doing nothing in the race, costing the horse race player a lot of money. Legal drugs also create inconsistent racing performances which can result in form reversals of many lengths. With legal drugs, racehorses are drugged up to feel as little pain as possible so that they run as fast as possible. But this sure does not help their physical well being. Inconsistent performances of racehorses are the rule not the exception. The race performances of horses fool even the best trainers, not only for the worst, but sometimes for the better. Trainers send out horses to race even when thinking a horse is about ready to go lame to try to get them sold in a claiming race. But these thought to be lame horses can and do win which pleasantly surprises the trainer. It is plain to see how truly unpredictable racehorses are.
Listed is a summary and some additions as to why predicting a profitable gambling outcome with horse racing is just not possible. Listed below are ten doomsday problems with betting on horses.
1. The horse may not be in the mood to give its best today and there is nothing anyone can do about it.
2. The horse has physical problems either known or unknown to the trainer, but certainly unknown to you.
3. The horse may not like the track surface today even though it may have liked it in the past.
4. The horse may not like the weather including rain, snow, hot, cold, etc.
5. The horse may hurt itself during the race which causes it to slow down or stop.
6. The horse may have equipment that breaks during the race.
7. The horse encounters problems during the race such as a poor start, checked, boxed in, bumped, bothered and an assortment of other problems.
8. The horseís jockey or driver accidentally makes a mistake during the race which causes the horse to lose. This happens frequently. A jockey or driver may also intentionally make a mistake during the race sometimes known as "stiffing" the horse. If you believe that stiffing does not happen then that is being naive. Stiffing happens in all types of horse racing. The worst type for stiff artists is standardbred racing where some of the top drivers have been convicted of stiffing horses. There certainly has to be a number of stiff artists who do not get caught.
9. The horseís trainer because of ignorance, improperly trains the horse causing it to lose. Trainers have been convicted of intentionally improperly training horses to get them to lose so that they can cash a bet on another horse in the race. Trainers have also been convicted of using illegal drugs to enhance the performance of a horse to try to get them to win.
10. There are many more problems that could be added to this list.
It should now be crystal clear about the impossibility of making money by handicapping horses. Even longtime addicted track regulars must give up this racetrack nonsense once and for all and find something better to do that will not crush your bankroll. It is absolutely true that all methods of handicapping with any house gambling activity is exactly the same as picking random numbers. The racetrack with its huge 20% takeout is the worst gambling activity involving handicapping for quickly annihilating a bankroll.
The following coin flipping illustration makes it easy to understand the futility of betting on these random numbers and why betting on horses is pure foolís folly. For example, if betting $1 on an even money proposition such as heads or tails on coin flips. When you call it and lose, then you lose $1. When you call it and win, you win only 80 cents. Even a young child can understand that this scenario is a guaranteed loser and a rapid loser. You may pick a few winners and be ahead temporarily, but the 20% difference will rapidly eat your bankroll alive. This is exactly what happens to your bankroll when betting on racehorses. You are temporarily happy when you pick that random number $8 horse but it would have paid approximately $10 if there was not any takeout. A $4 winner should really be approximately $5. Sure you may hit that $80 exacta but it really should have paid approximately $100. Throw in your absolutely guaranteed fair share of random number losers and you can hopefully understand that you are getting ground out of your money exactly the same way as this coin flipping scenario. You must fully understand this and not be thickheaded about it. You will gamble away and lose many thousands of dollars learning this lesson if you do not learn it now.
It should now be clearly understood that it is not possible to make money betting on racehorses against such a huge 20% takeout. You cannot do it, trainers cannot do it and horse owners cannot do it. Hopefully longtime handicappers who wonder why they never win money, as well as want-to-be handicappers who wonder if they could win money, can now fully understand the total hopelessness of profitable handicapping. It could never be done, cannot be done now and never will be done. Horse race gambling is betting random numbers, mixing in the ten doomsday problems and more, then taking a huge 20% bite out of each and every betting pool from each and every race. This mixture is plain and simple a recipe for losing and losing quickly which longtime handicappers know is absolutely true. Nobody will ever beat this game so find other things to do. Forget about this very foolish waste of time and money. Stop the nonsense and give up the foolish game of horse race handicapping and betting.
Small-time bettors at the racetrack are known as "$2 bettors" because that is the minimum bet amount on many types of racetrack wagers. These $2 bettors have it the worst for total racetrack expenses as a percentage of the amount bet. Generally the expenses for going into the racetrack include a parking fee, admission fee, racetrack program, stat sheet handicapping paper and paying for overpriced, oftentimes poorly cooked food and watered down beverages. With all of the negatives of the horse racetrack including breathing in cancer causing second-hand cigarette smoke, all horse racetrack patrons truly are gluttons for punishment especially the $2 bettors. More horse racetrack negatives include many rude, arrogant tellers at the betting windows. Also having to listen to foulmouthed, cursing gamblers screaming at the horses and jockeys. Maybe you could put up with all of these racetrack annoyances if having a chance to win some money. As pointed out in these chapters on horse racing, you do not have any chance. That 20% takeout on each and every race is a quick kiss of death to your bankroll, whether it is a $2 per race or $100 per race bankroll.
The $2 per race bettors may think that they are not as good a handicapper as the $100 per race bettors, "media experts" or "professional" handicappers. Here is some news for you. This news will not put any money in your pocket but may help to wise you up to this suckerís game. The $2 per race bettors will in the long-run, lose money at the exact same percentage rate as everyone else. The so-called "professional" handicapper is a complete myth and deceit perpetrated by racetrack marketing departments, handicapping books and old men with embellished stories of glorious big wins. The marketing departments and handicapping books are obvious frauds if they imply in any way that money can be made. Sure maybe these old men or even some young men won a few thousand dollars or more in one day once, twice or even a few times. Always though these old men and young men previously or subsequently lost much more than that. So they really did not win anything. There never really was a lucky day.
There are players who try to hit a superfecta jackpot for a few thousand dollars by betting many different number combinations. There are players who after picking some winning horses try for a few thousand dollars by increasing the size of the bets. This wagering and all other wagering and systems at the horse racetrack will result in much more losing money than winning money in the long-run. With hundreds of races and thousands of wagering propositions per day, the long-run usually turns out to be not that long. On betting propositions such as pick-six carryover super jackpots as with all other super jackpots, the odds clearly say that you will never hit one even if living many thousands of lifetimes. Also with the standard jackpot type bets at the racetrack such as the pick-four, trifecta, superfecta and others, the takeout is usually higher than on straight win bets. The takeout can be as high as 25% to 30%. Racetracks do not show any mercy to their betting patrons and never will.
Racetracks and the entire gambling industry do not believe in taking prisoners. When they financially kill you they could not care less. Each day there are thousands of new suckers coming of gambling age to take your place. So they will fleece you again and again, as often and for as much money as possible. Trying to win money at the racetrack is the same as searching for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow which of course is only fantasy. But losing your money at the racetrack week after week, year after year or only one time is not fantasy. That is all too real. It is time for you to eliminate hopeless gambling fantasies. It is time to throw away foolish things. Avoid the racetrack and avoid gambling.