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Betting just to bet
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 - by Frank Cotolo

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“Action” has been a longtime term for betting recklessly at pari-mutuels. That is, action is basically to be in play, but is truly recognized among veteran horseplayers as the kind of bet that aims to make you feel good because you are playing.

No one says you should feel bad about any wager, but you should never make a wager just to feel good that you have a wager. That kind of behavior allows you to stray from any money-management scheme you employ and that usually costs you money you should be using for your campaign to profit.

This sounds very strict to most people. But then again, most people allow action bets to rule their plays, using the “insurance” excuse. You know, instead of a powerful backing of an exacta combination, the player boxes the numbers “just in case.” It’s insurance, they feel, because it protects them from being wrong about the order of the exacta. Of course it doesn’t protect them because no bet can protect another bet; extra bets are just that—extra—and extra is unnecessary when a decision is made.

Action bets serve their purpose, mind you, because they buy you extra excitement during the event. They add to the exhilaration of watching the race and anticipating a win. It works. But you pay for the feeling, a feeling you should get when you make a serious wager based on an experienced decision and backed with the strongest investment your bankroll calls to support it.

You may be playing action bets and not even realize it. Let’s say you address a race card with a dozen races. You handicap and only truly feel good about betting half of them. You pay great attention to those races and are prepared to support your horses if you get your price. You will watch the race with great interest and anticipate to win and make a profit from the focused approach.

But there are six other races in which you do not feel strongly about understanding. You never considered playing them, but once you are involved in wagering your chosen races, you decide to pass the time with action bets on the races you don’t like. These action bets don’t get the attention you have given the races you truly want to play. They serve only the purpose of keeping you entertained in between the races you want to play. You are getting “action” and luck may reward you with a win here and there. But in the long run you are whittling away at your bankroll, for any money lost on action bets is money that should be going to bets that you aim to play for profit.

Stick to your pari-mutuel playing plan. Bring expense money and during races you did not intend to play, buy a coffee or a beer or a snack or just strike up a conversation with a friend or make a friend to strike up a conversation—but don’t just bet to have action.

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