The 10 Rules for Horse Betting

Rule 1 Money Management

This is the most important rule of all. It is a must for horse players and all people involved in gambling. If you are serious about making money gambling you must incorporate a money management system. I define a money management system as a determination of how much money is safely wagered on any given bet. Try to find a money management system that best suits your betting style and bankroll. I will write more about money management in up coming articles.

Rule 2 Do Not Chase

Like Little Orphan Annie said “the sun will come out tomorrow.” How many times have you been down, and found yourself playing a track or race you would not have normally played. What usually happens is that you force plays and lose, only to be down more money. Being able to take losses is a difficult lesson to learn, but one that must be learned if you desire success in gambling. I promise the sun will come out tomorrow and so will the horses.

Rule 3 Stay Away From Sure Things

Let me say this in plain English, there is no such thing as a sure thing. Anything can happen in a race. If you have been around long enough you probably have seen some crazy things happen in races.
Let me tell you my own true story about tips at the race track.

I have been an owner of thoroughbred race horses for about 12 years. That being said, my first time on the backside of the track was to watch my first horse breeze. While I was there my trainer was talking to another trainer about the races that day. The other trainer told us how he loved his horse that was entered to run in a maiden race that afternoon. I quickly marked it on my program and was looking forward to making a sizable bet. Shortly later my trainer and I came across another trainer who told us how he had a great shot in the same maiden race. I quickly marked it and said to myself, this is great I can make an exacta box and really make a score. Later the same morning we came across another trainer and a jockey and believe it or not they both loved their horses in the same maiden race. Now I had four horses out of nine that had a great shot that day. I went to the track that afternoon and I handicapped the race. I found a horse that displayed many of the things I look for when picking a winner in a maiden race. I then decided to key my selection for 1st 2nd and 3rd in trifectas with the four tips I received in the morning. Sure money, so I thought. The result was that my pick won the race and paid $30 and change and only one of the four horses finished better than 4th. From that day on I have been very skeptical of inside tips at the track. There is no easy money at the track. You have to do your work and trust your own picks.

Rule 4 Keep Records

When using a service or your own handicapping selections, it is very important to keep accurate records. Keeping records is the only way to determine if your system works. Be sure to allow a fair amount of time when judging a system or service. I recommend a minimum of 100 bets in order to gauge the reliability of your system. You should keep records wager types and amounts along with profits and losses. You will be amazed to see certain patterns develop. This allows you to focus on your strengths while eliminating your weaknesses. The main reason people do not keep records is that they cannot bear to see all the losses. If you choose not to keep records, you will never learn from your mistakes and are sure to make the same mistakes over and over again.

Rule 5 Look for Value

There are differences of opinion when it comes to the topic of value. I define value as the risk versus the potential reward. Some say that value means not playing a favorite or a horse at 3-1 or less. I do not limit myself to specific odds when determining value. Although I am the last person to look for favorites, there are times when they offer value. Value is determined on a race by race basis. When handicapping races it is a good idea to play lines maker. Handicappers often overlook this idea, but it is useful in uncovering value in a race. I try to find races where a favorite is over bet and vulnerable. Doing this will increase your ROI (return on investment) over the long run.

Rule 6 Do Not Force a Bet

This is a difficult rule for horse handicappers. There are many races in a day and many days in a year. So do not make a bet unless you feel it is a smart one. A serious horse handicapper must have the discipline to pass on races about which he does not have strong opinion. Before you bet, ask yourself, “is it a good bet.” Listen to yourself, there should be not regrets on the wager you make.

Rule 7 Be Flexible on Betting Angles

Successful Handicappers are not a slave to any particular angle. Using only one angle greatly limits your potential profits. It is important to learn and incorporate different angles when handicapping horses. An astute handicapper can determine which angles to apply to a particular race. Speed figures, pace, drop downs, pedigrees etc., are all valuable and should be used in conjunction when looking for a winner.

Rule 8 Be Prepared

The boy scouts preach, “Be prepared.” This seems obvious but the advice is seldom followed. First, look over the card in order to find races with value. These are the races to study further. Sharp handicappers have most of their work done before the track opens. When at the track, get the scratches and determine if it affects your selections. Since you did your home work you will have time to adjust or cancel your play. Doing your work in advance also allows time to view the horses and the tote board before making your bet.

Rule 9 Trust Your Instincts

To be a successful handicapper you must trust your instincts. I personally struggled with this in the beginning of my career. I would handicap the race, circle my picks and then begin to second guess myself. The result was that many more times than not my original picks were winners. It took many losing tickets to learn “think long, think wrong”. Go with your first instincts and trust your skills as a handicapper.

Rule 10 Have the Winner’s Attitude

Although I mention this last it should probably be first on my list. If you go to the track without a winner’s attitude, you have lost before you have begun. In order to win at any type of gambling you must be confident. The one thing all the so called hard luck people have in common is a lack of a winning attitude. If you have a losing attitude your subconscious mind will make losing a reality. Conversely if you have the winner’s attitude your subconscious mind will allow you to make accurate decisions. If you do not have the proper mind set to gamble, please don’t. You will only self fulfill your losing prophecy.

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