Greyhound Handicapping: Driven To Distraction

Have you ever thought about how one little thing can change your life? Maybe you stopped to let someone cross instead of speeding up and making them wait a minute. Maybe they were elderly and walked slowly and you sat there for five minutes, wishing you hadn’t stopped. And then, maybe you get down the road to where a bad accident has just happened and you realize that – if you hadn’t stopped to let that old man cross the street – you would have been the guy the paramedics are trying to get out of the car with the jaws of life.

Sometimes, when little things affect our lives, they aren’t as dramatic as accidents we miss or pianos falling on our heads out of 10th floor windows. Sometimes at the dog track though, little things can affect whether we go home winners or losers. The worst thing is that we might not even realize that it’s happening, so we just keep losing and wondering why.

Other people can be a big distraction at the dog track. Whether it’s friends who keep talking when you’re trying to handicap or strangers who yell and swear and carry on when they lose, people can certainly take our mind off our handicapping. I once bet the wrong track because I was so distracted by a father who was yelling his head off at his three kids, who were running around and spilling their drinks all over the floor and other people.

Friends are wonderful things to have, but even good friends can be a pain if they push you to bet a dog they like or try to discourage you from betting a dog that you like. Probably the worst distraction from people at the track are the negative vibes that some people put out. You know, the people who are always complaining that the races are rigged, that they never win and that it doesn’t do any good to handicap because they don’t have any luck anyhow.

Somehow, all that negative karma just clouds my mind and I can’t think straight until I move away from them. My feeling is that if you’re negative, you’ll attract negative luck and talk yourself right into losing. I’m not a Pollyanna, but I try to keep a positive attitude both at the track and in life in general. If you think you can’t win and are completely negative about the dog track, why in the world would you go there in the first place? And what’s more, why would anyone bet if they don’t think they can win? That just doesn’t make sense.

Outside of people, there are plenty of other distractions. Drinking and eating can get in the way of handicapping, watching the races and keeping track of your bets. I eat before I go to the track and rarely drink anything other than one or two cups of coffee while I’m there.

Carrying a bunch of stuff with you that you have to keep track of can take your mind off what’s going on and at the very least, it makes it harder to get up and bet. You either have to carry it with you or leave it where you’re sitting and most people don’t like to leave their stuff behind. I’ve seen people juggling coolers and mini-TVs, even laptops, as they tried to make a bet. Heck, they could hardly find their program, never mind handicap it.

Kids are such a distraction that I won’t even go into it, except to say that I only brought mine to the track when we were on vacation or when I wanted to give my spouse a break. And when I did bring them, I bet light. My feeling about kids is that – when they’re with you – they need your attention and it isn’t fair to them to ignore them while you do something else.

There’s so much going on at the track. There are TV screens everywhere with replays, odds, horse races, other sports events and even news and weather. When I started going to dog tracks, the only screens showed replays. There were no simulcasts. No betting on horse races at dog tracks. No card rooms, slot machines or electronic machines of any kind.

We went to the dog track to bet on ten live races and we paid attention to those races. In some ways, it was a lot easier in those days. Nowadays, it’s hard to find a quiet place to go over your program or even think in peace. So far, I’ve been able to find a place like that at most tracks, but as the live races diminish in importance and electronics and screens take over, they’re becoming harder to find.

If you really want to avoid distractions at the dog track, I suggest that you go alone or with a friend who is as serious about winning at the track as you are. Someone with a positive attitude who doesn’t have to talk every minute. Then, especially if there are no live races that day, go outside and sit.

I do that all the time and sometimes people stop me at the door to tell me that there’s no live racing that day. They always look confused when I tell them that I know there’s no live racing, but I want to sit outside anyhow. Apparently, I’m in the minority when it comes to wanting a quiet place to think. I often wonder if this is why 90% of the people who go to the track lose. Interesting question, isn’t it?

(This is an excerpt from Book 5 of Greyhound Handicapping Books 1-6 available in paperback, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited on Amazon)

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Greyhound Handicapping: Don’t Go Off the Rails

Handicapping a greyhound program can be overwhelming. There’s so much information that it’s hard to take it all in, never mind analyze it and use it to pick winners. For instance, there’s post position. Many people think it’s more important than any other factor. Then you bump into someone who thinks it doesn’t matter at all and you wonder why you’ve been putting it first when you go over the program.

Well, post position IS important. But it’s only one factor amongst several that you need to really compare as you analyze races. I think the hardest part of handicapping is knowing which of the many things that matter will matter the most in this race. That’s one of those things that’s a lot easier to figure out AFTER the race, of course. When you watch the replay where the 3 broke and immediately took a right and also took out the 4 through the 7, which left the 8, which broke out fast, to head for the rail, which the 1 and the 2 had abandoned to run midtrack, so that the winner – at 6-1 – was the 8, even though the 5 was the big favorite because it had just dropped down from stakes races.

If you managed to follow all of that, you’ll see that the most important things in that race were the way the 3 broke and slashed over to the right, the fact that the 8 would outbreak everyone and also the fact that the 1 and the 2 ran midtrack, not inside, so they left the rail open for the fast-breaking 8. The reason I remember all these details is because I bet on this race. I had the 8 to win but I also had it in a quiniela with the 7, because I thought they might break together. So, for a $2 bet, I got $14 for the win and that’s not shabby.

However, if I had really analyzed the race and paid more attention to that 3 and its running style, I would have saved myself $2. That was easy to see after the race. Not so easy to see before it. This will happen to you many times, if you go to the track often. You’ll miss something like this and beat yourself up for it after the race, especially if it costs you more than $2. Don’t let it get to you.

If you want to make money at the dog track, you have to risk money. You’ll lose more times than you win, no matter how good you get at handicapping. The goal is to make more money than you lose. Don’t ever lose sight of that. Keep poring over races, looking for what will really influence the dogs in that race. If you do it often enough, you’ll get better at spotting situations that can make you money – or lose you money if you miss them and bet the wrong dog.

(This is an excerpt from Book 5 of Greyhound Handicapping Books 1-6 available in paperback, Kindle on Amazon)

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