We have seen the quote on posters, heard it in the movies, or maybe even seen it on our boss’s coffee cup. “Failure is NOT an option.” Well, if you are involved in horse race handicapping contests, you better tear down that poster, turn down the volume on Netflix, or even smash your boss’s coffee cup. (Well, maybe don’t smash the coffee cup.) But the point is that at some point, failing in these contests is an option — failing to learn from it is not.
Whether you are a rookie in contest play or a grizzled veteran, we have all experienced the agony of defeat. Probably for most of us, way more than we would like to admit. It is part of the contest game — get used to it. Unlike parimutuel betting where you can regain your mojo in 20 minutes or less, the contest player must have the endurance to overcome obstacles for hours, and in some cases, days.
So what can we do when we fail? Well, the first thing I do is get sick to my stomach, and maybe that lasts for 30 seconds. We are all competitors and hate losing, especially when it comes to money. After 30 seconds of flu-like symptoms, I usually take a look at the board and review my card. The answer is usually right in front of me. Was I “distracta-capping”? Did I pick too many favorites? Not enough? Did I switch picks last minute? Or did I just not handicap well? Even the greatest baseball hitters of all time fail 70% of the time so don’t be too hard on yourself. Just be honest, figure it out, and move on to your next game. Worst comes to worse, if you can’t figure it out you now have the pros at The Tournament Edge to help you out.
One of the things I teach to my fellow players is “getting back into the groove.” Similar to a baseball player in a prolonged slump, all you need is a bunt hit or bloop single to get your hitting streak going again. If you are slumping and only playing in major tournaments it might be time to dial it down and get into a few smaller games or maybe even a few head-to-head match-ups. Your odds of winning will dramatically increase and so too will your mental state. Get your bloop hits, regain your confidence, build your bankroll, and get back into your comfort contests.
Handicapping contests are fun and provide you an opportunity to win some real high-stakes cash. But if you are not willing to take your losses well it could destroy you. The handicapping, though, is only a small portion of the game. Being strong mentally might be the biggest factor in winning. Remember, failing is not only an option, it’s a guarantee. The reality is it’s how we bounce off the mat that makes us a long-term winner.