Are You the Best at Everything?


Few among us can claim to be the best at everything – although if you have hung out with or been around horseplayers for any amount of time you have undoubtedly heard a similar refrain when it comes to handicapping the races. But the truth is, few of us are gifted enough to be great handicappers at all tracks and all classes of races – despite any claims to the contrary.

I’ve found through analyzing my records that I’m very efficient with turf races and specifically Maiden Special Weights on the green stuff. I’ve also found that I’m a very good Daily Double player – yeah, remember that oldie but goodie bet. On the other hand, I’m a bad Pick 3 player which is hard to fathom given my positive record at the Daily Double. I would encourage all players to take a look at their stats and see where they can improve and also increase the size of their bets depending on their proficiency with a certain type of bet.

The same principle of maximizing your “bet size” can be applied to contests. No one is going to be equally proficient at all types of contests. Live bankroll, live WP, Pick and Pray, Head to Head, 3-5 players, weekdays, weekends, tracks, etc. There are as many different types of contests these days as there are bets available. I read today from testimony given by NTRA President Alex Waldrop before a government committee considering altering IRS takeout rules – a good thing. But what struck me about Mr. Waldrop’s statement was the evolution of bets offered from 1978 to today – the period of the last Triple Crown winner to today. In 1978 on the Kentucky Derby the bets offered were only Win/Place/Show. Today, there are 23 different pools players can wager into for the Kentucky Derby.

The same comparison can be made about contests and their evolution over a much shorter period of time. The standard $2 Win/Place tourney for hundreds of people offered only on the weekend has given way to contests offered every day on most major tracks and in a variety of formats. This doesn’t even take into account the contests offered nearly every weekend that occur in a live setting at a track, OTB (Off Track Betting), or casino.

If you really want to improve your contest play then you have to know how well or poorly you perform in the different types of contests. Start with the 2 wp live compared to the 2wp pick and pray. Take a look at your results over the course of the last month or two months and I guarantee you will find that you are more proficient at one than the other. And that’s important to know for a serious player for two reasons. First, you should maximize your play into the contest formats where you have a higher Return on Investment/ROI. Second, you should explore why you don’t perform as well in the other type of contest and resolve to improve your play.

You should do this exercise every few months if you play a lot of contests because it will also expose any holes in your game. I took a look at my game about 45 days ago and found I was doing much better at Pick and Prays even though I would have bet you money the opposite was true. So I played a lot more Pick and Prays last month. I also found that by looking at my picks and results what one of my issues was in live contests. Put simply, I was taking way too many lower-priced horses way too frequently. There was more to my problem, but by looking at your results you can sometimes find that the answer to the question of “where do I do best?” can help you increase your performance in contests and your profits.

Best of Luck and Get Your Game On!


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Michael Beychok
2012 NHC Champion and Eclipse Award Winner Michael Beychok aka "whodatchok" was the 2012 National Handicapping Champion winning $1 million and the Eclipse Award for best handicapper of the year. A horse owner, Michael has been handicapping horses for 40 years and playing contests for over 15 years. He is the all-time leading money winner in handicapping contests.