Play Fewer Races and Bet More When it Counts

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By Dean Arnold

“For most players, an improved return on investment does not depend on more good bets, but fewer bad ones.”  - Mark Cramer, Handicapping Author

This was advice I read back in 1996 which was so simple (yet profound) that I took the time to post mark the page and highlight those words in Mark’s classic book, Kinky Handicapping.

Handicappers will make more money at the races if they avoid: 

  • races where there are no angles or stand-out reasons to back a runner.
  • races where the contenders are at lower than fair odds (in other words, you agree with the public so much, you have no edge).
  • races where there is a lack of talent (maiden claiming races full of multiple race losers).

And those were my keys to my 2019 vacation to Oaklawn Park. With only two days of racing, I was faced with just 19 local races to handicap. So there was a real temptation to play every race. But Oaklawn is a winter track that features both top-class racing for generous purses and bottom level and state-bred races for proven losers. Which means not all the races were equal betting propositions.

The money I did not wager on some races was used to double my bets on the other races I did like. By focusing on four or five races a day and ignoring the other half of the card, I was able to double my exotic investments.

And the strategy paid off wonderfully. The boredom of passing half of each card was more than offset by the thrill of having bigger winning bets on my key races, allowing me to experience back to back winning days in a big way.  

Had I played every race, I may have broken even at best, even though many of my best bets were winners. For a vacation weekend, the willingness to pass on terrible races was the real key to victory.

Requirements to play:

  • avoid races where there are no angles or stand-out reasons to back a runner.
  • avoid races where the contenders are at lower than fair odds.
  • avoid races where there is a lack of talent.
  • wager more on the races where you have an edge, angle or overlay working in your favor.

Be sure to check out Dean Arnold's handicapping book, A Bettor Way, on sale now through Amazon.

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