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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bet Smart Win Big

Reading Jay Cronley's piece today at ESPN.com about knowing and learning how to bet a play for maximizing profits, jogged my memory on a recent book I read. Bet Smart Win Big by Prentice Mannetter was recently released, and is available at Amazon.com here. (Full disclosure, Prentice is a HANA member).

If we go through chat boards, or are at our local simo-center or racetrack we will see, hear and read topic after topic regarding 'money management', or 'ticket structures.' "If I only knew how to bet I would be a winner" is a phrase well known to players. It is not that easy, of course (if you do not have an edge you can not be a winner by money management alone), but those two areas can maximize your profit potential, minimize losses, and make the game more fun.

Unfortunately, horseplayers tend to spend thousands, and bet thousands, chasing winners, but spend much less time and money on chasing profits. This book by Prentice addresses the latter.

The book is a quick read at around 100 pages, but it is filled with anecdotes and statistics that you do not see everywhere (a lot of books on the subject are extremely subjective, I find). The first part of the book is on ticket structure. Some people like and swear by exacta boxes, some with tri boxes, others would not touch a three or four horse box with a ten foot pole. The author offers out some statistics and unique ticket structures for these bets, many of which come from professional players themselves. I learned something in these topics. He also explores other vertical and horizontal wagers, including the superfecta, which is one of my favorite bets, and one I have had some success with. I agree with many of his ideas in this section, and the ones I do not agree with I will be doing some studying, or testing with them.

The second half focuses on money management. I have read countless books on the subject (mainly from a stock trading perspective) and I am sure you have read about the Kelly Criterion, or principle. Often times my eyes glaze over at the topic. However, the author explains it better than, in a more entertaining way than, I have ever read. If you are not a math geek you can still understand these chapters.

In my opinion, and that is all it is, this book should be on a horseplayers bookshelf. It tries to speak to a player like he is not a math genius or computer programmer, or a stone-cold calculating professional punter. It tries to speak to the every day guy, out at the track who would like some ideas to improve their games, even if they are in the learning or testing phase.

There are three things a player can do to win: be a better handicapper, receive a lower takeout, or be a better bettor. This book is a good start to helping us with the latter. A winning player is a happy player and good for the game of racing.

DT

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