Can you pay a few bills playing the races?


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/06/2021 (718 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Enquiring minds want to know: “Can a person make money playing the races?”

Of course, we’ve all heard stories of players taking down a small fortune on a race or sequence of races. In fact, this column marked the 40th anniversary of Assiniboia Downs’ biggest triactor payout of $40,000 for a $2 wager.

But what most of you would like to know is whether you can count on coming out ahead on a consistent basis.

Supplied image Bill Benter made more than $1 billion profit playing the races.

First, let’s discount the achievement of a U.S. computer nerd, Bill Benter, who made a $1 billion profit — that’s right, a billion — playing the races in Hong Kong where the betting pools are among the highest in the world. Using 120 different factors, such as jockey skill, length of race, workouts, etc., his system bet horses that were going off at higher odds than they should have.

Because he was ultimately banned by the Hong Kong Jockey Club (they didn’t want to lose players who might object to his sophisticated computer play), he didn’t collect his final winnings — $20 million on the difficult Triple Trio bet that required a player to pick three triactors in a row. The track distributed those winnings to charity.

But, you ask, can the average Joe beat the races? I don’t want to raise false hopes so I’ll let you be the judge by considering my knowledge of the game and of players:

• These days, through an HPIbet betting account, you can scan past performances of hundreds of horses at dozens of tracks on your phone, laptop or computer and not make a wager until you “love” a horse. You get rewarded for being patient.

• The advent of 20-cent wagers puts even the most frugal player in the big leagues. My specialty is a wager called a superfecta which requires a player to pick four horses in the correct order. Mere pocket change can net you thousands.

• I know of players who have made or are making money playing the races. One is a businessman who used to owe everybody money because of his wild play. It shocked me to see him become the most patient player I’ve ever seen. He would wait 90 minutes between wagers, looking to bet a certain jockey riding for a certain trainer at a certain track. Then he’d bet, say, $100 to win and $300 to place. He kept track of his wagers and said he made a $65,000 profit in the course of a year.

Another player, a retiree who took up racing as a hobby, picked my brain for months about certain “rules” I apply to my horse selections. He surprised me at the end of the year when, out of the blue, he thanked me for helping him make $12,000 that year.

Another player who records his wagers — they aren’t large ones — and carefully tracks trainers and breeding and watches race replays says he has been averaging $2,500 in winnings each month this year.

So what to make of all this? The neat thing is, gives you a no-risk chance to feel your way around for a month of wagering, returning $120 to your account after you’ve bet $120 during the month (new account holders only).  

Tempting, isn’t it?

Ivan Bigg

Ivan Bigg
At the Races

Ivan Bigg is a railbird and handicapper at Assiniboia Downs.

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