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Get Organized
Thursday, December 20, 2012 - by Frank Cotolo

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I am not one for New Year’s resolutions, but I wholeheartedly believe in starting the New Year with a fresh set of books and the semblance of a plan for the next 12 months of handicapping and wagering.


You should, too.


I am dedicating this month’s column to explain, step by step, a simple process for setting up your personal wagering business and to explain the tools you need.


Before you look at a past performance or make a bet in 2013, do yourself a favor: read this column and follow its steps and suggestions. Creating this simple business platform will serve you well and once you realize how easily it is maintained it should become an integral part of your handicapping and wagering platform.




Foremost, you have to decide and appropriate a bankroll. Ask yourself how much you can afford to begin the season’s wagering campaign without interfering with your general lifestyle. Determine where you can get the bulk amount that is dedicated to wagering. If you don’t have a bulk sum ready to be committed, there are ways you can adjust your monthly budget to get the cash.




There is no need to be bogged down with a lot of accounting duties. Nor do you need any specific type of ledger. The brass tacks of your racing-account tools can be a common composition book; the familiar 100-sheet, 200-page, 9-¾ x 7-½-inch, wide-ruled book that is available at almost every store that has a stationery section.


You don’t have to compose your figures on a computer via accounting software; in fact, you don’t even need a computer. If figures recorded by hand in a composition book are potent enough to convict a mobster, they are good enough for your wagering business.


You can record your wagers using a basic format. You need only two columns. The column on the left should be marked “Out” and the column on the right should be marked “In.” Entries for each column are made per wagering session, so a session’s bets are recorded in column one and the total collected goes in column two. Don’t calculate plus or minus figures per session; compute sub-totals as a weekly or monthly chore.




This part of the set-up has two requirements. First, determine which track or tracks will you be focusing upon for your campaign. It is important that you choose a specific raceway or at the most, two, where you will be wagering. You should commit to a track or tracks you choose, never varying through the campaign.


The second demand of the strategy set-up is to decide your “how-to-profit path.” This is what I call your positive-expectation wagering behavior. Do you feel you can make money wagering solely on the win pool? I always suggest win bets as the main source of action, though you have to be patient and particular to grind out a profit. Or do you feel you would win more money playing exotics? For multi-bets you need to have a large bankroll to sustain the losses an exotic-wagering campaign demands. If so, you should restrict your exotics to single-race plays, like exactas or trifectas. Do not become involved in multi-race exotics, it is simply too expensive.




First, you need to budget time. When will you play? Try to set aside times during the week or weekend when you know you can give the process all of your attention. Certainly things will come up and you may have to change the schedule but it is important to make playing a regimented part of your life.


Next, budget your bets. You can use the money-management win system I suggested last year in this column. It’s based on the tried-and-true Kelly Criterion theory. If you need help creating a wagering chart from your total bankroll, e-mail hoofbeats@ustrotting.com and I will do it for you at no cost. Just remember that to use that method you will have to be making a personal betting line, as it guides your win wagers. If you have your own wagering scheme, then budget what you will play for wagers and have an invariable approach to them.




Basically, that is all you need to keep records. You can build on the basics and make them as complex as you want, but I suggest you keep them simple so you can maintain the records easily. With this modest set up you will be able to determine your profits and losses through the year in a disciplined manner, which will tell you volumes about yourself as a harness bettor.

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The views contained in this column are that of the author alone, and do not necessarily represent the opinions or views of the United States Trotting Association.