Winning at the Dog Track – Common Misconceptions

The purpose of my column on greyhound racing for Gambling Times is to help you find more and better ways to leave the dog track with a profit. In this initial article I will describe the methods used by the LOSERS; methods which you should avoid if you want to be a WINNER.

There are many misconceptions in greyhound racing. Thousands of fans throw away hundreds of thousands of dollars on the wrong strategies. In general, the typical fan wants to find the EASIEST and FASTEST way to make a profit.

Great! The problem is that there are NOT any easy and fast ways to accomplish this, so these folks simply fatten the pools for those of us who spend a little more time and effort at the game!

The following misconceptions are some of the traditional wrong paths that many take; commonly used handicapping factors that eventually, and inevitably, lead to loss.

MISCONCEPTION: Heavier dogs posted in outside boxes have a distinct disadvantage, and lighter dogs from inside boxes always have an edge.

FACT: Simply not so: nor are lighter dogs faster than heavier dogs in general; nor are lighter dogs more prone to bumps and collisions; nor do heavier dogs take longer to pick up speed! In most cases, a dog’s weight can simply be ignored.

MISCONCEPTION: The dog’s trainer and/or kennel are a large factor in performance. Always check this factor.

FACT: Certainly the overall quality of the kennel and the skills of the trainer are going to make a difference. But if the dog has already started in a number of races, the truth of its capabilities will be seen in past performance lines. If the dog is having a hard time staying in Grade C, for example, there is no point in taking the kennel or trainer into consideration for the race at hand!

MISCONCEPTION: A dog with classy parents is going to do better than a dog with average ancestry.

FACT: This is often true, however it is only one factor in the pup’s early Maiden races. Once the dog is running in graded races, his actual performance history is the best and only real measure of his competence. Again, if the dog is having difficulty getting above Grade D or C, his genes are probably doing all they are going to do for him. His mommy or daddy won’t help him run faster in the race at hand!

MISCONCEPTION: Any dog moving down from a higher grade is a good bet, and any dog moving up in grade should usually not be considered.

FACT: There are many good reasons WHY a given dog is moving UP or DOWN in grade. Some of these reason would make the above misconception work well enough, but the experienced handicapper looks far beyond the simple up or down question.

We want to know the WHY of the move. A dog contending strongly in Grade C, for example, may very well have a fine chance to do well in a Grade B race, (especially if it is a low Class B race!)

A converse example would be a dog that won a Grade C race by a fluke, was moved up to Grade B where it never really had a chance, and is now coming back to Grade C where it was usually just a mediocre performer. The three Grade B races in its past performance lines are not going to give it any advantage at all.

Look WAY deeper than the simple UP or DOWN question. The ability to see the REASONS for the grade changes will regularly put money in your pocket!

MISCONCEPTION: Watch the post parade closely. You can almost always pick out the reluctant dogs and the eager dogs.

FACT: FAHGEDABOWDIT! Unless you spot a three-legged dog, or a dog with a limp, you’re not going to learn a thing from the post parade. Countless times, I’ve seen dogs dragged or even carried to the starting boxes who blasted out to win the race.

And as far as being a good judge of dogflesh, I challenge anyone to tell from a post parade whether the dogs are Maidens, Grade D, or top Grade dogs! Likewise, some feel that a dog that empties its bowels or bladder before a race will gain an edge. Simply not so, (as you will quickly see if you happen to keep records of such things!)

MISCONCEPTION: Dogs who run on the inside of the track will do better than those who run in the middle or on the outside.

FACT: The theory here is that it is a shorter distance around the inside circumference of the track. That is true enough. But watch a car race.

The drivers do NOT run the inside of track all the way around the course. The make the curves wider by going into them from the outside, going to the rail during the curve, and coming out of the curve to the outside.

Dogs smart enough to take advantage of this effect tend to do quite well. Dogs who stick to the rail for the whole race have no advantage at all!

MISCONCEPTION: You can make a profit at the dog track without even looking at a printed program. Simply develop your wagers to fit with the odds shown on the tote board.

FACT: We LOVE the believers of this fantasy! They fatten the pools, race after race. At most tracks, in most grades, the crowd’s favorite only wins 25 to 28 percent of the time! How smart does THAT make the crowd? And you think it might be wise to wager on THEIR expertise?

Wrong! The whole pattern of making a profit at the dog track is based on cashing tickets when the vast majority of the crowd is NOT! Wagering with the odds is a lazy approach indeed. You’ll make far more profit selling poison ivy seeds!

MISCONCEPTION: If you get good enough at handicapping, you will make a good profit at the dog track.

FACT: Only HALF true! The world’s best handicapper can lose his/her pants by not WAGERING intelligently! No handicapper selects the dogs in exact finish order race after race.

When you get as good as you can get at dog handicapping, you still have to cover some anticipated minor surprises; and you have to wager into the most lucrative pool that best fits your level of handicapping skills; AND you have to buy your winning tickets for the least possible cost.

In other words, you have to develop BOTH handicapping skills and wagering skills. One without the other will NOT provide a profit!

MISCONCEPTION: Good handicappers routinely double or quadruple their money with every visit to the track.

FACT: Don’t we WISH? Most professional greyhound handicappers average an R.O.I (Return On Investment) of 30 to 35 percent. That is far better than one can do at nearly any other form of gambling, (and that includes ANY game or device in Vegas!)

Investment of course, means the amount of money put at risk. In other words, the amount we shove through the windows. The amount of money we have in our pockets when we arrive at the track has nothing to do with it. R.O.I. is the profit, (or loss), that we have on the dollars that we actually wager.

For example: a fan might arrive at the track with $100. He bets, he wins. He bets again, he wins. He bets again, he loses. By the time he has wagered on his chosen number of races, he might actually have shoved $300 through the windows. If he came out ahead by, say, $100 he did NOT double his money.

He DID, however, enjoy a 33% R.O.I. $300 risked, $100 net profit, equals a 33% gain!

Often we benefit as much from learning what NOT to do, as we do from learning what we SHOULD do.

That’s what this article is about. When you’re next at the track, tune in on some of your fellow fans. You’ll hear the majority using faulty criteria such as described here. In fact, you might notice some of the regulars routinely putting their money on misconceptions. (Be advised that being a regular at a track does not signify a WINNER. Plenty of track regulars have other sources of monies that they drag to the track to feed the pools. You’ll likely hear about their hits, but not much about their near misses!)

So here’s wishing you the best DOG-GONE luck you’ve ever had!

Article by Bill McBride

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