What Does It Really Take to Be a Successful Handicapper and Horseplayer

3 min read

Sooner or later all horseplayers ask themselves one question. Does anyone really make money playing the horses? By that we mean a steady profit and staying ahead for the long term. You may know someone who seems to make a profit. He or she brags about big hits and whenever you’ve seen that person at the race track or OTB they seem to be winning.

However, there’s that nagging doubt that though he or she seems to be hitting a lot, you wonder how much he or she is wagering. The more someone brags about big wins and making money at the races, the more likely it is that he or she isn’t really staying ahead. A lot of decent horse players do manage to stay ahead for a while, but churn usually does them in for the long run.

Handicapping is an intellectual sport like chess. It is a skill game. You develop skill by practice and study and perhaps, if you’re lucky, by mentoring. Some kindly old horseplayer who has figured it all out takes you under his wing and teaches you the game. Then he delivers toys to all the boys and girls around the world. You get the idea.

Professional hold’em poker is another game of skill. If you follow the tournaments you’ll notice that there are a handful of world-class poker players who show up at the final table quite often. They win bracelets for each tournament they win. Ask yourself this, How many professional handicappers have won the top handicapping tournament more than once? See how tough it is?

A lot of a horseplayer’s success depends on luck and while someone may be lucky now and then, no horseplayer is always lucky. I’m not trying to discourage you, but I am telling you my honest opinion based on years of personal experience. Your results may vary. I’ve learned to divide my handicapping time into campaigns that have a beginning and an end. It may be a season at a race track or a period of time that I’ve determined before I begin the campaign.

Some campaigns are successful and some are not. If I had to depend on luck I’d be a sad case, but life has taught me that though luck is very important, it’s also fickle so better to develop as much skill as possible and look at life philosophically as a journey or adventure. That’s what it takes, a good attitude, patience, and passion.

Should you keep playing the horses? You’re either a horse player or you’re not. All the advice in the world won’t sway a real horse player one way or the other. If you’re a horse player you know what I mean and if you’re not a horseplayer all the explaining in the world won’t make that any clearer.


John Anderson: John, a luxury travel blogger, provides reviews of luxury resorts, tips for planning upscale vacations, and insights into travel trends. His blog is a go-to resource for those seeking the finest travel experiences.

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