What – Me Worry?

What – Me Worry?

I was having some ‘mad’ thoughts the other day – crazy ruminations on the whole concept of ‘betting odds.’

It occurred to me that there are three possible (and generalized) views of betting the races;
– mainstream (following the crowd)
– contrarian (counter intuitive), and then
contra-contrarian (?!). 

Now – I’ve already admitted that these were perhaps Alfred E. Neuman type musings, so you’ve been forewarned  . . .

If a player is a mainstream type – i.e he studies the form factors for the horses (or not) – looks for the ‘most likely’ winner – gets really excited about horses that look unbeatable – etc. etc. He then becomes a favorite bettor by-in-large.  Also in this group are the band-wagon-jumpers that always want to be a part of the majority – don’t know squat about handicapping, and are just out for fun and hopefully making enough to pay for the day’s beer.

The contrarian type wants to go against the majority, believes the crowd is more often than not wrong, and has an independent mind and way of thinking. This type player almost always goes against the favorite and other low-odds runners.

But – what if a player didn’t concern himself with odds at all? 

What if one had to handicap without a morning line – and then bet without being able to ever see the odds at any time?! 

That would eliminate the ‘crutch’ (we all use) of comparative thinking relative to a horses’ implied value – either by looking at the morning line relative to our own betting line, or our own betting line relative to the post-time odds on the tote, or thinking about what we’ll actually make compared to what we hope to make if our horse wins.

“But you’d end up lots of times on horses paying $3.20 and $4.00 – horses or even races you’d otherwise pass, or alternatively bet on a different (higher odds) horse.”

True – absolutely true. 

Also true though is that in some races, you’d end up on winners paying $40 and $50 – horses or even races you’d otherwise have talked yourself off of, or alternatively bet on a different (lower odds) horse.

We are a calculating species to the max (and this to the detriment of every other species). We always look for an advantage in everything we do. This was/is, of course, the primary reason our evolution has played out as it has, but would it all fall apart if this weren’t so?

Specifically – in handicapping and betting the ponies, if we took the “what – me worry?” point of view as concerns the odds (both morning line and post time odds) on the horses we wager – what would happen?

I can’t offer a definitive answer. 

I have tested my own handicapping for short stints in the past by blocking out the horses morning line. It makes the swings wider and the ride wilder.

I have also tested betting “early bird” without knowing the post-time odds. Again – makes for a bumpier ride. 

I have not ever tested doing both at the same time.

But what might be the potential of handicapping and betting on pure deduction from the horses past performance statistics – without knowing the value opinion of some others (morning line, or public handicapper comments), and then betting on the intuition that develops from that – also without knowing the value opinion of all combined others (post time tote odds)?

It’s a very big jump to get past the influence of others . . . then another huge leap getting to a philosophy of actually going against the influence of others . . . to then going against our own relative, value-comparing thought processes – and on to a purer, intuition-based approach.

That final leap?

. . . I don’t personally know of anyone whose taken it (re playing the horses).  If you get to there, let me know.  I’d be fascinated to learn where it has taken you.


As always – comments welcomed.                    – Gary

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