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Play to your strengths
Monday, December 09, 2013 - by Frank Cotolo

As a follow up to our blog urging you to keep records, we thought a related topic concerning playing harness in 2014 could be helpful. In 2014 you may wish to take a new approach with your bankroll, one more dedicated and aimed at your greatest handicapping talent.

Lots of players lose money based on the kinds of wagers they make. A player can be having a good return playing Pick-3s but uses up the profits from those wins by failing in exacta boxes or trifecta wheels or unmeasured and inconsistent win bets. Playing too much, no less too many tracks, can result in soaking up what was made with other wagers.

I knew a fellow (his name, of course, was Delaney) who played win wagers at Santa Anita. Delaney had a big bankroll and he put major dollars into his win bets. But what he wanted more than anything was to win a huge Pick-6. He played large Pick-6 tickets using his win-wager profits and finally hit a five-digit Pick-6 ticket.

Instead of thanking his lucky stars that he was able to support his multi-exotic desires with profits from wins, he went beserk after he hit a generous Pick-6 and began to invest all of his profits in more plays. He played exactas, triples and Pick-6 tickets twice the size of the ones he played when he reached his goal. In a year Delaney was broke. He would have supported a longer wagering career if he had gone back to his successful wagers. As well, he should have been satisfied when he realized his Pick-6 dream and used some of his super profits in, excuse my expression, the real world.

Delaney’s rogue behavior can be a mighty lesson to anyone who prospers from wagering a certain way.

In 2014, perhaps you can approach a campaign (or two) differently by dedicating your plays to a single type of wager, one that you understand well enough to have resulted in profits; one which you always address with confidence. (If you have kept records you may discover a particular bet you make has produced better results than others, which is another good reason to maintain more detailed records.)

For instance, maybe you have a knack with exactas. So why not make your bankroll exacta-friendly, ignoring all other types of bets. With no other wagers in the mix, you may have enough funds to double your dedicated wagers, thus making more when you hit with the kind of wager that turns a profit for you even when you play other things. However, you need to stay away from other wagers entirely. Don’t go wild, though. If you do better at the particular wager at a certain track, concentrate on betting there and only there.

Whatever the personally rewarding wager you choose, if you are loyal to its play, chances are your bankroll will be in the black a lot or get there quickly if you get off to a bad start. Be a confident and demanding bettor, keep records and do what most people at the track do not do -- make a profit.

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Editor's Note: The views contained in this article are that of the author alone, and do not necessarily represent the opinions or views of the United States Trotting Association.
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Hoof Beats Magazine The forum of Hoof Beats bloggers, featuring some of the best writers in harness racing: New York writer Tim Bojarski, handicapper Frank Cotolo, Tom LaMarra, Harness Racing Communications’ Ellen Harvey and Ken Weingartner, and Hoof Beats’ T.J. Burkett.
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