JC / Railbird

Money Matters

Jay Cronley, in fine form, on managing money and mind:

As each race has its own unique energy, so, too, is each money management opportunity different from the last. Therefore it seems to me that money management is a function of your basic handicapping skills. Great blackjack players count cards. Great handicappers count winners.

As Pittsburg Phil said, among other things:

Know when to put a good bet down and when not to.

The “Horseplayer Dreams” post from a few days ago has attracted a thoughtful comment thread on the thorny issue of takeout. Some weeks ago, I was browsing through the appendix of Tom R. Underwood’s “Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding,” published in 1945, and found, on page 226, the condensed results of a survey of racegoers:

Racing is supported by men and women of the middle income group.

Racing is not supported by the lower or upper income group.

The average person attending a race is a man or woman, married, a church member, who goes to the races once a year.

Racing is not supported by the so-called regular “racing fan.”

The average person who supports racing makes no profit out of it, is perfectly willing to pay for the privilege of attending and the privilege of wagering; provided the cost of this privilege is not too high.

Nearly 70 years later, there’s still a bit of truth to the above. When Rolly writes, “The cost of making a bet has never mattered to the vast majority of horseplayers,” and advocates leaving off “tilting at these takeout windmills,” he’s right. Consider the meets that get held up year after year as successes: Del Mar, Keeneland, and Saratoga attract scores of casual fans and curious visitors, “middle income” men and women who visit the track infrequently, aren’t looking for a profit, and who don’t mind paying to attend. That’s not an argument for not pushing to reduce takeout, as PTP points out, but it is a reminder that the takeout debate is an esoteric one. Or, as Ed says, “Takeout matters to the industry, but it doesn’t matter to horseplayers.” Still, I suspect there’s something to PTP’s mention of Betfair’s success. Players may not think about price, but it has a lot to do with how long they’re in the game.

Computer bettors discussed the issue today at the Simulcasting Conference:

Johnson said if the industry agreed to lower the average pari-mutuel takeout rate from 20.5% to 10%, all bettors would benefit because it would put more money into the pools and perhaps grow handle, which is down several billion dollars from last year. Current margins for rebates would be eliminated.

The entire CAW panel recap is fascinating, getting into past-posting (“a boogeyman”) and offshore bookmakers, among other subjects.