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Old 02-03-2018, 10:02 AM   #1
GMB@BP
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Positive Expectation

I have seen this term popping up more than ever in relation to horse racing.

In the very simplest of terms I understand the concept but I was wondering if anyone had their own insight into how it relates to betting on horse racing, and how it us used when a player believes that they have a positive expectation?
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Old 02-03-2018, 04:23 PM   #2
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Positive expectation is a complex term in racing, unless you have alot of data you have tracked for years than you are sort of guessing and most people have selective memories. Just for clarification all figures below will be your roi which is your net profit(-for loss)/cost of every bet made. Bet $100,00 for the year win $1000 that is a +1% roi.

In simple terms looks start by looking at your straight bets. That is where you have the most activity and the highest probability of winning each bet. Thus lower variance. First question is what determines a win bet for you? Do you look for the best horse and bet him if he is 2-1 and higher. Do you look at the entire board and play the horse who appears to offer the best value. Do you focus more on track biases and profiles and looke for the horse that seems to a likely winner without even worrying about price? Do you make an oddline and look for a certain amount of value(25% premium, 50% premium, double), Maybe you are toteboard player.....It really doesn't matter what you do, the question is how likely is it that next years performance will mirror last years performance and this years performance. If you are looking for 50% value off your line on every bet you make, I would suspect year to year you will fall within a certain range -10%(most will be closer to this figure) to +5% depending on how good you are. If you are losing over 10% on value plays you are doing something very wrong. If you are betting horses blindly because they look good(for whatever reason), I think you can have a big fluctuation year to year, because if you do not take into account their chances of winning (which means you have to figure out their chance of winning) it is hard to determine whether you have value on your play or not. But even so, if you continue with the same methodology year to year, I believe after about 5 years you will have a fairly good idea where you stand with the 5 years worth of data(I am assuming you betting fairly vigorously) The more consistent your performance is year to year likely the more accurate your assessment will be. If you are -5% one year +15% the next, -25% the next year +3% the next year and -12% the next year, who the heck knows. But if you are -3% one year, -7% the next and 5% the next and -3% the next and -4% the next, it is safe to say that your in the -4 to 5% range. Assuming you get rebates do not add them to your win/loss. You koow if you lost 5% on straight bets but get a 3% roi you are net -2%. You need to know what you can do without the rebate. The rebate just tells you whether it is enough to put you over the top.

So basically put your expected return is based off of your past performance. The more you change your approach to handiapping the less predictive it will be. It is not easily discerned, so I get a kick out of anyone who says they are a +7% player(based off of what bets over what period of time etc).

I believe reaching positive expectation in the wps pools sans a rebate is very difficult. Anyone that does it is impressive(and I do not doubt the people do it and are able to do it). While I tend to take people at their word, if somebody claimed they were positive roi, and started emailing me their plays, I would not bet them until over time they demonstrate to be positive roi. That is just a reflection of how tough I think this game is.

When you start getting into the superfecta and super high 5's and pick 4's and pick 5's it is really tough to discern where you are at. This game is full of would of could of and should of's, and when dealing with superexotic, they are often $5000 scores and $15,000 scores and even $30,000 and $50,000 scores you left on the table. What you can do io these is purely subjective and whatever you decide has to be taken with a huge grain of salt.

That is my take on expectation and horse racing.
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Old 02-03-2018, 04:45 PM   #3
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"Positive expectation" is the expected "value" that we think we have found in the particular wagers that we make. Now...is this "expected value" REAL...or is it strictly ASSUMED? In a "dynamic" game such as horse racing, one is never sure about how to answer this question...regardless of how "successful" the given player has been in the past. You could be a sizable winner for five consecutive years...and fall on your face in year six. And we all know this...that's why we consider it prudent to take the necessary precautions. We wager only with money that we could easily afford to lose...and we call what we do "GAMBLING".
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Old 02-03-2018, 05:41 PM   #4
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The term 'positive expectation' is often used when referring to pools where more money will be paid out in relation to what is taken in.

For example, a P6 with a large carryover.
Or, similarly.
A mandatory payout day where a lot of money has accumulated that will offset/exceed the takeout for whatever is bet on the final day.

Last edited by Denny; 02-03-2018 at 05:42 PM.
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Old 02-03-2018, 06:17 PM   #5
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Thanks for all the responses, and Poindexter's was very detail.

I almost exclusively bet win, but am super selective when I bet. It usually involves two factors, I usually identify a weak favorite and I find a horse that has attributes that make me think they are likely to win the race (through normal everyday handicapping). I would say my definite strength is assessing the real chances of the favorites. Wish we had exchange wagering!

But the reason I brought up the question is I have heard a lot of times people talk about gaining a positive expectation and then forming bets to capitalize on that expectation, and doing so with bets even though they may not have the other criteria that usually takes me to bet.

I think my thoughts are closers to what Denny is saying but maybe a bit nuanced.

For example say I didnt like Arrogate going into the San Diego Handicap last summer. Say he attracted 50% of the Pick 3 pool. Since I didnt like him and pitched him, pending on how strong some of the other favorites are, I have now created a very positive situation, one which allows me to be very creative with many combinations in the pick 3 and likely make money on the situation. If I liked a horse in the sequence then my expectation would go up from there.

See I am always pretty conservative, and thus dont win to much and dont lose to much. Yet I read about players who once that positive expectation is created then its katey bar the doors, the money is coming in.

Hoping that makes sense.
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Old 02-03-2018, 06:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GMB@BP View Post
Thanks for all the responses, and Poindexter's was very detail.

I almost exclusively bet win, but am super selective when I bet. It usually involves two factors, I usually identify a weak favorite and I find a horse that has attributes that make me think they are likely to win the race (through normal everyday handicapping). I would say my definite strength is assessing the real chances of the favorites. Wish we had exchange wagering!

But the reason I brought up the question is I have heard a lot of times people talk about gaining a positive expectation and then forming bets to capitalize on that expectation, and doing so with bets even though they may not have the other criteria that usually takes me to bet.

I think my thoughts are closers to what Denny is saying but maybe a bit nuanced.

For example say I didnt like Arrogate going into the San Diego Handicap last summer. Say he attracted 50% of the Pick 3 pool. Since I didnt like him and pitched him, pending on how strong some of the other favorites are, I have now created a very positive situation, one which allows me to be very creative with many combinations in the pick 3 and likely make money on the situation. If I liked a horse in the sequence then my expectation would go up from there.

See I am always pretty conservative, and thus dont win to much and dont lose to much. Yet I read about players who once that positive expectation is created then its katey bar the doors, the money is coming in.

Hoping that makes sense.
They key is you have to be right pretty darn often tossing those bad favorites. I do think this is the way to go. If you agree with everyone else, it is very difficult to find value in a race in my opinion.
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Old 02-03-2018, 07:35 PM   #7
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Bet in a manner which you cover the most likely outcomes without having to be perfect and get say a 7-1 return or better. Or don't wager a single dime. My 21 years of mediocrity in this game pissed me off enough to be a smarter and stingier player. Thank God! That is positive expectation. I have nearly stopped win wagering also unless I get 5-1 or better. I can bet similar amounts with more mediocre results but make about twice the money.
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Old 02-05-2018, 05:46 PM   #8
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Being able to toss the favorite with some degree of confidence is a must for a dedicated win bettor. When you can find a race where you're confident tossing the top two, work until your fingers bleed to find a bet.
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Old 02-05-2018, 06:00 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ultracapper View Post
Being able to toss the favorite with some degree of confidence is a must for a dedicated win bettor. When you can find a race where you're confident tossing the top two, work until your fingers bleed to find a bet.
The theory is that, in such cases, you have a "positive expectation"...no matter which of the remaining horses you bet on. Of course...I haven't investigated this theory enough to know if it's really factual.
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Old 02-05-2018, 06:52 PM   #10
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If you can toss a heavy favorite, you should be OK with simply weighting/dutching your remaining 'contenders' according to their odds. Or, only making a small single wager on your top perceived value contender.

Heavy Favorites; 3 ways
  • toss = you emphatically reject the fav
  • lean against = you use the fav as an 'A', but you use multiple 'A's'
  • single = you single the horse as a lone 'A', hoping to connect other values

toss with roasted poblano vinaigrette
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