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View Full Version : It isn't the Big Numbers that make a System


Capper Al
06-03-2016, 10:34 PM
The big numbers are the ones like speed, pace, and class. Many of the software apps either use one form or another of the same base figs. Most of these numbers average out to about the same over the long run by category. For instance, speed figs will vary from race to race but will average out around 26 plus percent(Haven't looked at the stats for awhile.) But the small numbers and Boolean flags like good race at the distance, days off the track(worked or raced), stretch gain etc.. are the numbers that might make the difference. Here a computer is king. For in an instance several dozen of these factors can be checked and a conclusion made before the big numbers are consulted. I have played only the big numbers and have some good streaks. But found for consistency, it's better to check the small numbers first.

Lemon Drop Husker
06-03-2016, 11:19 PM
So post position, owner, trainer, jockey, distance, track, trip, race structure, intent, works, work spacing, weight, blinkers, lasix, track condition, public wagering, and overall "feel" have no input in your lazy computer? :p

JJMartin
06-04-2016, 02:16 AM
It doesn't matter much what you do with past performance data, the long term results are always disappointing. You may have a consistent predictive strike rate but the average pay out is always not enough.

Nitro
06-04-2016, 02:16 AM
Al if you (or anyone else) havenít done so already, please do yourself a favor and read and perhaps re-read (in its entirety) what Pittsburg Phil discussed over 100 years ago! I'll let you and anyone else who might have an interest decide on what the concept of this little excerpt might mean.


Racing Maxims and Methods of Pittsburg Phil -- by Edward Cole (1908)
In this frame of mind I go to the track. Once I enter the gate it is all business with me, and my program of one day does not change. I get the names of the jockeys and the positions of the horses at the post, if it is a race in which I believe there is a fair speculative opportunity. I know, of course, the kind of day it is, and the condition of the track. I next go up into the grand stand and watch the horses warming up. This is of the utmost importance, for although my mind may be centered on two, or possibly three horses, at the same time it is important that I watch the others for fear there may be an unexpected display of form in any of them. If I do not see any of the horses, I had in mind, warm up, I immediately go to the paddock, after having my agent bring me the betting quotations. Arriving there I devote my time and attention entirely to the contenders, as I have picked them, and to nothing else.

It is impossible to overestimate the value of this ability to tell the condition of a thoroughbred. It is the twin sister of handicapping and more important. In that respect the ordinary "form" handicapper is, so to say, handicapped. What may appear to be right on paper, very, very often is wrong in the paddock. This ability to tell whether a horse is at its best before a race is acquired only after years of the closest kind of study. The merest tyro can tell in a race whether a horse is doing its best, but when it comes to getting a knowledge of what he can be expected to do before a race from a blanketed animal walking about the paddock or standing in his stall, special knowledge is necessary. It is not a talent. A man is not born with it: he must acquire it by hard work and close observation. He must be able to decide whether a horse is in good condition or not, whether he appears to feel like running a race or otherwise.

Tom
06-04-2016, 10:13 AM
What matters in not that you use "big numbers", but which numbers and how you use them. All you ever know for use they don't work because of the ones you choose and how you chose to use them.

Why is it everyone thinks they know everything about how everyone else handicaps when all they know for certain is how THEY have figured out how to fail? I am happy to understand my way of doing it and don't pretend I know how others do it. Is it an escape mechanism to somehow justify their inherent lack of ability in this game?

I've been playing since 1964 and am never afraid to learn something new. I know I do not do well in race watching, but I don't tell TLG he is full of crap because he does. I am not good at paddock inspect, but does make Maggie wrong?

I know enough to pay attention to what either one of them says, even when my "big numbers" disagree.

Oh, and you really do not need a "system" to make money in this game. But I don't fault those who use one. Just when they try to tell me I need one.

burnsy
06-04-2016, 11:17 AM
What matters in not that you use "big numbers", but which numbers and how you use them. All you ever know for use they don't work because of the ones you choose and how you chose to use them.

Why is it everyone thinks they know everything about how everyone else handicaps when all they know for certain is how THEY have figured out how to fail? I am happy to understand my way of doing it and don't pretend I know how others do it. Is it an escape mechanism to somehow justify their inherent lack of ability in this game?

I've been playing since 1964 and am never afraid to learn something new. I know I do not do well in race watching, but I don't tell TLG he is full of crap because he does. I am not good at paddock inspect, but does make Maggie wrong?

I know enough to pay attention to what either one of them says, even when my "big numbers" disagree.

Oh, and you really do not need a "system" to make money in this game. But I don't fault those who use one. Just when they try to tell me I need one.


Here, here. Well said Tom. I make fun of people that strictly use numbers, but its up to every individual to decide what works best for them. If one is not comfortable with what they are doing....its a recipe for disaster.

I'm great with math and numbers because my studies were based on Accounting, Statistics and Economics. But for me the gist of handicapping is the odds vs. what I think the hoses chances are. That's how I hit those big exacta's. The overlays don't have to win, they just gotta be there.

During Saratoga I'm at the paddock every day I'm there. I'm no Maggie, but I can tell the difference between every type of horse, sprinter, grass, distance
and I can see when a horse is not doing well.....which is huge. I can read a "trip" but the ones that constantly get bad ones usually have bad habits that put them in that position. So it only helps so much. The one thing I absolutely believe in is betting only when you see a clear advantage or opportunity. In other words I try to take the "comprehensive approach" and have milked people for knowledge in every one of these faucets over the years. IMO that's how one becomes an expert handicapper. Blinkers on, closed minds, "one shot" systems are not for me. I've spent years trying to master all the angles and look at them as "tools". If it were just numbers, everyone would be doing it. No one would ever lose...my "system" is knowledge, information, math and constantly not falling into the "crowd mentality". Its like a really good musician, pick that phreaking thing up and improvise a little once you know what you are doing. Once its fine tuned, there are no regrets even on the days you lose but I guarantee the wins will be more numerous.

Capper Al
06-04-2016, 02:56 PM
So post position, owner, trainer, jockey, distance, track, trip, race structure, intent, works, work spacing, weight, blinkers, lasix, track condition, public wagering, and overall "feel" have no input in your lazy computer? :p

Just the opposite. All those small numbers before the major numbers. I'm still handicapping. I probably should have called the small numbers minor numbers.

fiznow
06-04-2016, 03:05 PM
Al if you (or anyone else) havenít done so already, please do yourself a favor and read and perhaps re-read (in its entirety) what Pittsburg Phil discussed over 100 years ago! I'll let you and anyone else who might have an interest decide on what the concept of this little excerpt might mean.

He was a very wise man and his words are still valid.

Capper Al
06-04-2016, 03:12 PM
It doesn't matter much what you do with past performance data, the long term results are always disappointing. You may have a consistent predictive strike rate but the average pay out is always not enough.

Not so. It's mostly about wagering. Most systems pick the same top horses, but maybe not in the same order. How these are played is the key.

Capper Al
06-04-2016, 03:17 PM
Al if you (or anyone else) havenít done so already, please do yourself a favor and read and perhaps re-read (in its entirety) what Pittsburg Phil discussed over 100 years ago! I'll let you and anyone else who might have an interest decide on what the concept of this little excerpt might mean.

Generally, I do agree with this. But remember in Philly's day they might have known horse flesh better, but they didn't have the data and the exotics which allow us to work around a horse or two that's not in shape. Again, it's how you wager.

Capper Al
06-04-2016, 03:21 PM
What matters in not that you use "big numbers", but which numbers and how you use them. All you ever know for use they don't work because of the ones you choose and how you chose to use them.

Why is it everyone thinks they know everything about how everyone else handicaps when all they know for certain is how THEY have figured out how to fail? I am happy to understand my way of doing it and don't pretend I know how others do it. Is it an escape mechanism to somehow justify their inherent lack of ability in this game?

I've been playing since 1964 and am never afraid to learn something new. I know I do not do well in race watching, but I don't tell TLG he is full of crap because he does. I am not good at paddock inspect, but does make Maggie wrong?

I know enough to pay attention to what either one of them says, even when my "big numbers" disagree.

Oh, and you really do not need a "system" to make money in this game. But I don't fault those who use one. Just when they try to tell me I need one.

Agree. All I'm saying here is pay attention to those other minor numbers and flags before using the big (major) numbers. Not even telling anyone how to do it. It's just my experience that the minor numbers are rarely discussed as if they are not important.

Tom
06-04-2016, 05:25 PM
My experience is not that the numbers pick the wrong horse, but that winners is just a head scratcher that no number is ever going to get.

I suspect those small numbers are measured in cc's or volts.
Info not readily available.

Capper Al
06-05-2016, 10:02 AM
My experience is not that the numbers pick the wrong horse, but that winners is just a head scratcher that no number is ever going to get.

I suspect those small numbers are measured in cc's or volts.
Info not readily available.

There's more randomness to the game than we would like to admit to ourselves.

Capper Al
06-05-2016, 10:06 AM
I like Pittsburg Philly especially about being in the zone. But some things have changed over a hundred years. The problem is that everyone benefits from these changes and negates these advantages.

pandy
06-05-2016, 10:34 AM
Any number that tries to help define a horse's ability, such as a speed figure, can be used to win if you are extremely selective and only play overlays. However, a combination of numbers that define ability are better than just one number. But it all comes back to value. If you have a set of numbers that define ability, and you list all the horses that appear to have an edge in ability, and only play the ones that are attractive odds, you're going to do a lot better than the average horseplayer.

sunshine
06-09-2016, 04:59 AM
It doesn't matter much what you do with past performance data, the long term results are always disappointing. You may have a consistent predictive strike rate but the average pay out is always not enough.

Yep, I would agree with that. You can analyze variables and statistics until you go blue in the face but if you donít obtain value in the betting odds you will never win. Take 11/10 about either side on the toss of a coin and you will eventually make a profit.

pandy
06-09-2016, 07:05 AM
The reason why there are trip handicappers, pace handicappers, trainer handicappers, etc., is that they found that speed handicapping came up with the obvious horses. Of course, there's no value in losers, so even though we like to stress "value," you still have to have an approach that's good at predicting the outcome.

Capper Al
06-09-2016, 08:19 AM
The reason why there are trip handicappers, pace handicappers, trainer handicappers, etc., is that they found that speed handicapping came up with the obvious horses. Of course, there's no value in losers, so even though we like to stress "value," you still have to have an approach that's good at predicting the outcome.

Agree. A system should always be how to pick them first and then what are they paying when they win NOT an extrapolated value. Why? Let's say one picks them at 50%. The breakeven point is even money. Many jump to the conclusion that if they get anything over even money they have found value. Wrong! What if when these horses when they win at less than even money? Betting over even money would then be a loss.

traynor
06-09-2016, 12:08 PM
Agree. A system should always be how to pick them first and then what are they paying when they win NOT an extrapolated value. Why? Let's say one picks them at 50%. The breakeven point is even money. Many jump to the conclusion that if they get anything over even money they have found value. Wrong! What if when these horses when they win at less than even money? Betting over even money would then be a loss.

You make a good point of why most who search for "value wagers" go astray. It is not that difficult to calculate, especially if one is using a computer app. The (most basic, simplified) question in your example would be, "what is the win rate of this group at LESS than even money, compared to return from that group"? Next, "what is the win rate of this group at MORE than even money, compared to return from that group"?

Not rocket science. Simple arithmetic, calculating multiple ROIs as factors of odds ranges, rather than lumping everything together and making the error you describe above. Simple stuff.

Why doesn't everyone do this already? Same reason they don't use standard deviations to truncate outliers--including anomalies enables them to create the illusion of profitability where it does not exist (except in retrospect in a small sample) and is highly unlikely to exist in the future. Great fuel for the ego (or pocket book if selling the app) as long as one does not bet on it.

There are good reasons why most handicappers spend way more time "studying their output" than betting on races. Reality can be cold and harsh.

ebcorde
06-09-2016, 12:13 PM
I agree with what you say. For dirt the computer is vital.
For turf....

I've been betting Australia more than US racing the last few months, almost daily. Now I play US turf same way I do Aussie, forget most of the metrics,
Not sure why maybe since every race is Turf, I gain more experience from handicapping 20-30 turf races every day , but some way, some how you get it.

sunshine
06-09-2016, 01:45 PM
I never try to predict winners, just play the odds, Bookmakers don't try to predict losers, they also just play the odds, but if predicting the future works for you then fair enough. Not trying to start an argument, just pointing out the facts.

ebcorde
06-09-2016, 01:56 PM
I never try to predict winners, just play the odds, Bookmakers don't try to predict losers, they also just play the odds, but if predicting the future works for you then fair enough. Not trying to start an argument, just pointing out the facts.


yeah makes sense ,except the races that have for example 6 horses between 5-1 and 8-1. I like to get down to a window of 2-4 Horses then regard the longest current odds horse.

fmolf
06-30-2016, 06:03 PM
I never try to predict winners, just play the odds, Bookmakers don't try to predict losers, they also just play the odds, but if predicting the future works for you then fair enough. Not trying to start an argument, just pointing out the facts.
That is all well and good but i believe that knowing when to pass a race is the most valuable skill in handicapping.....The value lies for me in figuring out which 6/5 favorites will lose and which ones will win. You can play the value horse, which is overlayed in every race and still lose! Deciphering which favorites are also overlays despite being odds on, is a skill in itself, as well as having the discipline to pass those races when favorites look legit,and to play your overlay when the favorite looks vulnerable...Everybodies system or method works,its all just a matter of wagering and discipline!

Pensacola Pete
06-30-2016, 07:53 PM
A big mistake is in trying to find "the best horse" instead of "value." Most of the time, the "best" horse is a big underlay, while a lesser one offers value.

Dave Schwartz
06-30-2016, 08:04 PM
I never try to predict winners, just play the odds, Bookmakers don't try to predict losers, they also just play the odds, but if predicting the future works for you then fair enough. Not trying to start an argument, just pointing out the facts.

What does "play the odds" mean?

Capper Al
07-01-2016, 04:44 PM
That is all well and good but i believe that knowing when to pass a race is the most valuable skill in handicapping.....The value lies for me in figuring out which 6/5 favorites will lose and which ones will win. You can play the value horse, which is overlayed in every race and still lose! Deciphering which favorites are also overlays despite being odds on, is a skill in itself, as well as having the discipline to pass those races when favorites look legit,and to play your overlay when the favorite looks vulnerable...Everybodies system or method works,its all just a matter of wagering and discipline!

I had a losing streak after changing my successful wagering methods. Thought it was my system at first. Found out later, it was my wagering mostly.

fmolf
07-02-2016, 08:49 AM
I had a losing streak after changing my successful wagering methods. Thought it was my system at first. Found out later, it was my wagering mostly.
similar experience with me..Once i learned discipline and patience in my wagering i began to have more winning days....by this i mean i now go to belmont(my favorite track)and wager on no more than three of the nine races on average.I watch the tote and only play one of my contenders when i feel it is overlayed and the favorite is vulnerable..Making less wagers affords me the chance to wager more on the better opportunities as opposed to stretching my bankroll over more races....

barn32
07-02-2016, 09:38 AM
I've been playing since 1964...

God, you are old.

Capper Al
07-02-2016, 02:23 PM
similar experience with me..Once i learned discipline and patience in my wagering i began to have more winning days....by this i mean i now go to belmont(my favorite track)and wager on no more than three of the nine races on average.I watch the tote and only play one of my contenders when i feel it is overlayed and the favorite is vulnerable..Making less wagers affords me the chance to wager more on the better opportunities as opposed to stretching my bankroll over more races....

All the software in the world, and there is still no substitute for experience.

Capper Al
07-03-2016, 10:40 AM
Let me try to restate why it is the application of the minor numbers that's most important. All the speed or class figures come from the same source, Equibase. These major factors (speed, class, or pace) are manipulated a bit differently by each vendor, but over the long run perform more similarly than different. The minor numbers allow one to separate or eliminate a horse before applying the all so similar major factors.