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Don't be a Delaney
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - by Frank Cotolo

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“Darn,” Delaney said. “I could have won that race, but I didn’t play a three-way box.”

Bettors should always want to win, but not so that they may cash every ticket they buy. The desire to win needs to be a primary incentive when playing pari-mutuels, but failure doesn’t indicate a wagering mistake.

I knew many guys like Delaney. They beat themselves silly about losing bets. One Delaney I knew was trapped in a losing streak, coming in second while playing win bets. He called it, like most do, a case of “seconditis.” He didn’t wait for the lack of luck to pass; he changed his strategy by playing horses to place.

Then, for no reason whatsoever, his horses began to finish third. You probably can foresee his next mistake. He began to bet to show and his horses finished out of the money.

Delaney defined a win by the cashing of a ticket instead of using his desire to win as a gauge to find and wager upon the best races that can enable him to profit. To want a win so badly that a player blames his or her self for not winning and then takes foolish action just to cash a ticket is as unhealthy as a bettor can become.

Wanting to win and failing should motivate, not disillusion, a player.

The hunt for a winning ticket should be a hunt for a cashing experience that makes losing moot. A player does that by selecting the races that defy the public’s assessment of value. Whether a handicapper uses a built-in odds line or an actual workup of odds, he or she needs to address wagers without trying to realize any kind of cashing experience.

A smart veteran of pari-mutuel play told me something I could never forget, even if hit by a blunt instrument on my skull. He said, “It is not the cashing of a ticket that makes a bettor a winner, it’s how much the ticket being cashed is worth.”

There is superlative wisdom in that statement and one can only truly understand it when the math reveals it to be true. So Delaney can cash five times in an evening and still lose money for the night, where someone like me can cash only twice and lose four times to toss a profit, not to mention that Delaney plays under the pressure of performing perfectly, which no one can survive in any game or profession. He and I want to win, but because I know my losing plays are not mistakes in strategy and my financial losses from them will be reimbursed when I cash tickets worth more than they should be worth, I am stress free.

I don’t like to lose, mind you. I become as irked as any Delaney when I lose by a little or a lot. But I can let it go and more on and not be affected by my failure.

So want to win every wager, but make the wagers that will win you the most.

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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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