Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Playing the ponies, part 3

In this, my final post on Robert Bacon’s Secrets of Professional Turf Betting, I’m first going to share the passage that was highlighted in the Daily Speculations blog and then look at the chapter entitled “You Must Speculate—You Can’t Grind.”

The would-be professional must learn how to translate every price and every bet into a matter of percentages. He has to get a feel for prices. So each day before the races are run, he should mark down his favorite and his second choice in each race for the next day. Then he should compare his selections and prices with the prices actually paid in these races (published in the results charts after the races are run). “Whatever you do, go over the results charts in detail after the races. Study not only the prices of the money horses, but also the prices of the losers.” (p. 61)

After the student is successful at these “paper” predictions, he should try picking the first through fourth choices in each race. And eventually, he should begin making full lines on entire races—before post. “But here is something to remember. DON’T look at anybody else’s selections or prices or handicaps before making your own selection and prices. That is a rule with no exceptions. If you look at some other prices or selections first, the line you will come up with will be a sort of scrambling of his line and your line. Almost invariably, it will combine the weakest features of both. You’ll have the mistakes and the trite opinions of his line and yours. But the possible ‘bright work’ and getting-away-from-the-public part of his figures and yours, will be discarded.” (p. 62)

Bacon reiterates this point in more passionate language a few pages later. Would-be professionals “must take care not to look at any papers or listen to any predictions before making prices. And, above all, they must take care not to get into conversation with any of those gabby blabbermouths who always want to express dull opinions on horses and racing. Those ‘creeps’ are POISON! The professional soon learns to avoid them at all times.” (p. 70)

And, the final takeaway I want to share from Bacon’s book is that you must speculate rather than grind, or “you must gamble rather than attempt to chisel.” (p. 83) Bacon’s point is that you shouldn’t place bets on so-called sure-things in safety positions. The player at the racetrack can’t grind or chisel because “the racetrack has all the grind and chisel privileges! … [I]f there is a Lady Luck, she favors the bold player who has the courage of his convictions.” (p. 84) “Forget all those ideas of ‘grinding out a day’s pay’. If you want to make a day’s pay at the races, get a job watering horses, or pitching manure into trucks. But never try to grind it out of the mutuels. Perhaps the quickest way to get cured of the ‘grind’ notion is to try to grind with progression betting. That cuts short the pain! The flat-bet grinder might last a month or two, or even all summer before his capital is wiped out.” (p. 87)

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