A few years ago I found myself discussing wagering strategy with a friend of mine whose handicapping prowess I respect very much. I had been reading a book on money management by Barry Meadow at the time and when I brought his name up in our conversation, my friend's response was quite simply "Barry is an okay handicapper, but one helluva bettor."
What makes someone a better bettor than someone else? Forget racing for a moment and think of casino games... someone can play blackjack versus the house using optimal strategy and make money riding streaks, but put the same guy at a poker table and match his optimal strategy versus a table of guys who are bluffing and he'll be read and walk away at maybe a breakeven point. When do you just throw optimal strategy out the window and go for value? Back to racing... you have done your homework, you know the probability of a certain event taking place, you know how the pace is likely to set up... but your returns are modest compared to others?
My wife is a better bettor than I am. I play very calculated plays and make my modest returns while she finds a way to kill the mutuels. Is it that I am not a big risk taker? I would fancy myself a risk taker, heck I used to enjoy running into burning buildings and working as a construction professional I have to bid public projects and try to figure what amount the bid should be to be competitive without leaving any money on the table. I handicap my competition at work - knowing what they pay their field staff, how they will staff a job, what jobs they have going on locally that they can either share services on or subs that they can lock up to package a deal with... but why can't I pull the trigger and hit the big one? Why can't I move off of my 'projected winner' and take the competitor that looks to offer the best value based on my calculated 'fair odds'?
Have I honed my wagering methodology beyond the point I should have? With the data I started collecting on every single wager I had placed over 2001 and 2002 I had started to refine my approach based on where I say profit and loss... I eventually cut out a fair amount of trifecta, superfecta, and Pick 4 (and up) wagers and say my volume go down with my net return increasing the next year... but if your bread and butter is some semblance of WPS, it is a grind to make a buck versus hitting an elusive mutuel. I guess it is just time to go back and start muddling through the data again, taking a step back and see what I am missing.
Food for thought on a busy Sunday night...