Gordon's Dog Blog

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It's Not About Picking Greyhounds... It's About Wagering!

I was handicapping the races at Bluffs Run the other day, and the number one rule of racing was on my mind: It's not about picking greyhounds... It's about wagering on them!

I've tried to explain this concept to people for over twenty years. If you want to make money playing greyhound races, stop wasting your time on trying to get better at rating the dogs. Instead, learn how to wager on the races. I've watched people spend hours and hours--really days, months and years--trying to find the secrets to picking winners. Finding that "mortal lock" greyhound is the goal, right? Being better at picking winners than the next guy is what you need to do, right? If you just look at early speed a little differently, or figure out which dog is in form, or learn more about trip handicapping, that will make you a winner, right?

No, it won't. After you get to a basic level of handicapping competence, then you are wasting your time trying to get better at picking greyhounds. There isn't a secret stat that will give you the winner. You aren't going to pick more winners than the crowd, over time. It ain't gonna happen!

But you know what? You CAN wager better than the crowd. You can wager a LOT better than the crowd. And that is how you make money at the greyhound track. You can't beat the dogs. You can't outsmart them. If you play every race, your key pick will lose 75% of the time. If you are REALLY picky, your key dog will still lose half of the time. You can't beat those numbers. But, as I said, you can learn how to bet on the races, and learn to make a profit.

Let me give you a simple example. At Bluffs Run, when I am done handicapping each race, I ask myself a simple question. Is my key greyhound a very strong key, an average key, or a weak key? Ah, you think you know what's coming now, right? You think I'm going to tell you to pass the race with the weak key, and maybe pass the race with the average key, and cherry-pick that strong greyhound, right?

Wrong again.

Long ago I ran out a study where I looked at how my key greyhound does in each of those three situations. Here's an example, where all I am looking at is a $6 trifecta part-wheel, 1/2/ALL.

For the STRONG keys:
Hit percentage is 7.51%, ROI is -19.84%

For the AVERAGE keys:
Hit percentage is 6.46%, ROI is -2.03%

For the WEAK keys:
Hit percentage is 4.02%, ROI is +39.02%

And there's the whole story!

Just as you would expect, my strongest keys win much more often than my weaker keys. But my strong keys don't make money at Bluffs Run. Neither do the average keys, although they are close to break-even.

The keys that make money for me are the weak keys! And boy, do they EVER make money for me at Bluffs Run! That 39%+ ROI is a real treat. And the profit came from knowing how to wager (and when NOT to wager) instead of knowing about picking winners.

After all, the handicapping methods are all pretty much the same. It's just not common knowledge that it's not important to hit MORE winners. It's important to know what the crowd is going to do, and to exploit that. That is where you make your money.

Think about it. When there is a strong favorite in a race, pretty much everybody knows it, right? How many people miss an even-money favorite and slap themselves on the forehead and say, "Gosh, I never thought that dog with three wins in six races might be a good prospect today?" Everybody with a program in their hands can see a strong favorite. And when they see them, they bet on them. And that means there's usually not much profit to be had on a strong favorite. Thus my -20% ROI on strong favorites in my 1/2/ALL wager.

When the favorite isn't so strong, then some players start to miss the best dog, and play more on others. That means you'll get closer to break-even in races like that. In my case, at Bluffs Run, I'm not profitable on those average-strength favorites, but not by much.

But when my key is a really weak key, that's when the crowd blows it. They start boxing their bets, and spreading money around because they aren't sure of themselves. And when that happens, I go laughing all the way to the bank, cashing in my 39% ROI at their expense!

Folks, this isn't rocket science. You can't beat the dogs. But you can beat the guy or lady sitting next to you. Smart at racing means knowing how to bet, and when to bet. Smart doesn't mean finding a secret greyhound. Run out some stats for your own play, and you'll see the same patterns. And yes, there are TONS of patterns like this that you can uncover.

Don't waste your time trying to get better at picking the dogs. Instead, get better at wagering on the races!

Gordon Waite

thanks for the vision. but

thanks for the vision. but could not see what you mean by "keys" as a newbie :( thanks again !

strong-average-weak keys

I would be interested in the criteria for categorizing the keys. In addition, I have particularly enjoyed your more recent blogs as I believe they have more universal appeal. Individual track commentary is excellent if you're going to handicap that track. Ever since Iowa, I have respected your commentary and your database.

Categorizing the Keys

Thanks, Charlie. I'll try to do a Blog soon and look at keys and how I categorize them. Thanks for the idea!



Thanks, your courtesy is appreciated.