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Handicapping FAQ
Horse racing and handicapping discussion.
Common questions about handicapping hroses.

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Ever since we started providing free picks from "Judge" Fletcher McCoy, we have received a steady stream of e-mails asking us for more information about the man and his methods.  As you know, the Judge does not use or own a computer or e-mail, so most of our conversations take place in person.  We usually meet for breakfast in Nicholasville, KY after the Judge has made his morning rounds at Keeneland or Churchill.  Coffee, biscuits and gravy, and horse racing insight from the Judge is a pretty good way to start the day.  When he gives us a pick we try to write down what he says word for word, and when he feels something is important he will usually say "Make sure you get that down like I said it."  We'll post as much of his horse racing knowledge as we can on this page and add to it as often as he sees fit to provide it.  The question we get asked more than any other is the first one we will post in this FAQ:

How come the Judge doesn't give a pick every day?
The Judge is a professional handicapper.  He makes his living betting horses.  In exchange for some free horse hats, and us paying for his breakfast as often as he will let us, he gives us what he feels like is a safe play.  For the vast majority of us, betting on horses is a hobby or an occasional source of entertainment.  For the Judge and others like him its a full time job.  For most of us, a day at the races means making a bet on every race run.  The Judge has the rare ability to go to the track and perhaps make one bet for the whole day.  Win or lose he is done after the race he came to bet is over.  He will watch the rest of the races with great interest and use that information in the future, but as he has often said "Only a fool or a lucky man bets every race on the card.  I ain't either kind."  Any good handicapper will tell you that the most important skill to have is the ability to manage your money.  The Judge bets only when he feels he has a winner.  He never chases his losses making desperate bets, when a horse he bets catches a bad break and doesn't win he can forget it and move on.  When he wins, he takes the money and runs.

How to manage your money when betting on horses
Ever since we started providing free picks from "Judge" Fletcher McCoy, we have received a steady stream of e-mails asking us for more information about the man and his methods.  As you know, the Judge does not use or own a computer or e-mail, so most of our conversations take place in person.  We usually meet for breakfast in Nicholasville, KY after the Judge has made his morning rounds at Keeneland or Churchill.  Coffee, biscuits and gravy, and horse racing insight from the Judge is a pretty good way to start the day.  When he gives us a pick we try to write down what he says word for word, and when he feels something is important he will usually say "Make sure you get that down like I said it."  We'll post as much of his horse racing knowledge as we can on this page and add to it as often as he sees fit to provide it.  The question we get asked more than any other is the first one we will post in this FAQ:

How come the Judge doesn't give a pick every day?
The Judge is a professional handicapper.  He makes his living betting horses.  In exchange for some free horse hats, and us paying for his breakfast as often as he will let us, he gives us what he feels like is a safe play.  For the vast majority of us, betting on horses is a hobby or an occasional source of entertainment.  For the Judge and others like him its a full time job.  For most of us, a day at the races means making a bet on every race run.  The Judge has the rare ability to go to the track and perhaps make one bet for the whole day.  Win or lose he is done after the race he came to bet is over.  He will watch the rest of the races with great interest and use that information in the future, but as he has often said "Only a fool or a lucky man bets every race on the card.  I ain't either kind."  Any good handicapper will tell you that the most important skill to have is the ability to manage your money.  The Judge bets only when he feels he has a winner.  He never chases his losses making desperate bets, when a horse he bets catches a bad break and doesn't win he can forget it and move on.  When he wins, he takes the money and runs.

How to manage your money when betting on horses
Ever since we started providing free picks from "Judge" Fletcher McCoy, we have received a steady stream of e-mails asking us for more information about the man and his methods.  As you know, the Judge does not use or own a computer or e-mail, so most of our conversations take place in person.  We usually meet for breakfast in Nicholasville, KY after the Judge has made his morning rounds at Keeneland or Churchill.  Coffee, biscuits and gravy, and horse racing insight from the Judge is a pretty good way to start the day.  When he gives us a pick we try to write down what he says word for word, and when he feels something is important he will usually say "Make sure you get that down like I said it."  We'll post as much of his horse racing knowledge as we can on this page and add to it as often as he sees fit to provide it.  The question we get asked more than any other is the first one we will post in this FAQ:

How come the Judge doesn't give a pick every day?
The Judge is a professional handicapper.  He makes his living betting horses.  In exchange for some free horse hats, and us paying for his breakfast as often as he will let us, he gives us what he feels like is a safe play.  For the vast majority of us, betting on horses is a hobby or an occasional source of entertainment.  For the Judge and others like him its a full time job.  For most of us, a day at the races means making a bet on every race run.  The Judge has the rare ability to go to the track and perhaps make one bet for the whole day.  Win or lose he is done after the race he came to bet is over.  He will watch the rest of the races with great interest and use that information in the future, but as he has often said "Only a fool or a lucky man bets every race on the card.  I ain't either kind."  Any good handicapper will tell you that the most important skill to have is the ability to manage your money.  The Judge bets only when he feels he has a winner.  He never chases his losses making desperate bets, when a horse he bets catches a bad break and doesn't win he can forget it and move on.  When he wins, he takes the money and runs.

How to manage your money when betting on horses
Recently we met with the Judge after he gave out a big winner on HorseHats.com. He told an entertaining story about a man cashing a ticket right in front of him in line. They got to talking and it turns out that the man bet the horse based on the Judge's pick from Horsehats.com. The Judge introduced himself, the fellow bought him a drink, and they ended up hanging out for the next hour or so. This was during a simulcast session at Keeneland and the man ended up betting back everything he had won and then some. The Judge never made another bet on the day. He then gave us his money management speech and it went something like this:

If 100 people hear what I am about to tell you, 5 of them will be so damn dumb they won't understand it, 95 will listen and understand everything I say, and only about 5 of those 95 who get it will have the ability to actually follow the instructions. There are only 3 things you need to know if you want to make money betting horses:

1. Which horse to bet on
2. How to bet the horse.
3. How much to bet on the horse. This is the most important step.

Picking the horse to bet on, or handicapping, is where people spend all of their time. I'm a good handicapper - not a great one - I can give you the names of 10 people who can out handicap me, but 5 of them live in their cars and the other 5 wish they had a car to live in. They don't know how to bet the horses they pick and they damn sure don't know how much to bet on them. They can pick five winners in a row and still leave the track broke. They hit one race, take all the money they won and plow it into the next race, and so on until they have given it all back and can't figure out what happened to them. That's fine if you go to the races a few times a year and are looking to have a good time, but if you want to make a living at it you just can't operate that way.

What you need to do is bet from a "bankroll" that is used only for betting on horses. It has to be separate from your living expenses and you have to be honest with yourself about how much it should be. Your bankroll should be about 100 times as large as your standard bet. For example, if you are only comfortable making $2 bets, then you bankroll needs to be about $200. You have to be able to weather a long losing streak and still have the security of knowing your bankroll is going to hold up. You also need to maintain and grow the bankroll. I have a formula that I use to add back into the roll and grow it. If you've lost 20 bets in a row and finally score on a 10:1 shot, how much of that do you put back into the bankroll and how much do you spend on your girlfriend? Well, that depends entirely on how good looking she is.

Your bankroll will disappear faster than free beer at a frat party if you don't stick to your standard bet rules. I have a standard bet amount and will only go up to 3X that amount, and I only do that a few times a year. When you hit a big one it's easy to think that you should have bet more, but every time you get beat a nose you'll be wishing you bet less. If you walk into the track planning to bet on 3 races, and you hit the first 2 - don't get tempted to increase your bet on the last race. Stick with the plan and walk out a winner.

How to bet is the other key to the formula. I might be "Old School", but I still like to put most of my money on the nose. It's easy to get sidetracked putting together a gizmo and chasing the big money in a trifecta, but in my experience you are better off putting the biggest part of your money in the win pool. The bottom line is that if you don't like a horse enough to bet him to win you should pass on the race. A lot of folks think that betting an even money horse is a waste of time, so they try to construct a scenario using that horse with some longshots in gizmos, only to have the even money horse win and the longshots run out. Even money is even money and doubling your money ain't nothing to be ashamed of.

To sum it up - be picky about what you bet on, bet the same amount each race, and stay away from the gizmos.

 

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