Happy New Year. Now let’s start winning races. I take that back. Let’s start winning money on races. I take that back. I mean let’s start profiting from winning races no matter how many we win.
You should have put last year’s books away and set up this year’s books (see my latest Hoof Beats column). We have business to do if we are going to play harness racing this year and that business does not need to lose money or break even; we need to profit.
The problem of following through on this is simple human nature and it is a conundrum. We have to be in the frame of mind that allows us to desire winning all the time. But we won’t be able to do that. In fact, we will be losing more races than we are winning races and that perturbs us all.
It’s an emotional dilemma; we have to want to always win when we know we cannot always win. To make matters worse, we will have to wrestle with the emotions incited by passing a race and watching a horse we liked win and accept it because it did not offer us the price we demanded.
The pari-mutuel player is a walking, talking duality and has to handle both personalities with the strictness of a drill sergeant. How does one balance these two people within us that are constantly jousting?
I don’t know. I cannot give you any advice because no one deals with this problem in the same manner. I can tell you only one thing that is very important. If you are not having this argument with yourself then you are not living the duality you must live if you are going to win at pari-mutuels. Sure, you can get lucky here and there but if you don’t want to win and learn how to win under most circumstances that do not involve counting on luck, then you are paving a road to the poorhouse.
These things are non-negotiable because this game, whether you play it casually or professionally, has far too many elements to assure you will do well. The battle against everyone wagering and the measure of your own handicapping and wagering behavior is enough to bring anyone to their knees.
As this new season begins you have to either take this stuff seriously or consider it a way to spend, not make, leisure dollars. That decision is crucial. You have to want to make a profit—that is winning—and you have to learn to absorb all of the losses so you can profit.
That’s right, profiting at pari-mutuels is painful. But that doesn’t mean the fight has to be unpleasant. You can have some fun with losses if you realize their role in the process of winning. And you can manage your own duality as well as you manage your bankroll so that the two entities can shake hands and come out fighting another day.
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