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HRN Original Blog:
Across the Board with Mike B

Five Things to Think about When Your Handicapping Goes Cold

Saratoga Crowd 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

 

As we all know, in this glorious game of ours, there are highs and lows. We get hot, we get cold, and everywhere in between. When things aren’t going well though, it is very important that you take a long look at yourself and ask why. Here are five things I like to do when I am in a rut... 


1. Look yourself in the mirror – When things aren’t going your way at the track, you must look within. Are you being too risky with your wagers? Are your choices running well, but your losing photos and just a little unlucky? Are you distracted or being lazy in your handicapping? Are you just flat wrong? These are some of the questions we must ask ourselves. We all hit the skids now and then and it is our job to figure out why. If my selections are running well, and I am just unlucky I am fine with that. If I am just wrong, or I am being too risky, I want to know why, and put a stop to the losing.

2. Scale Back – You have to slow your roll a bit until you right the ship and regain your confidence. Do not press when you are cold; it only makes matters worse. I find it best to scale back a touch. If your standard win bet is twenty, make it ten. If you play Pick 4's, make it Daily Doubles. If you’re missing on your Trifectas, play Exactas. You do not want to keep burning money when things aren’t going your way. Err on the side of caution, until you get comfortable again.    

3. Focus – Focus on your strengths and stay away from your weaknesses. Sounds easy, but sometimes it is even easier to get lost in all the action. Play the races where you feel most comfortable. If you love routes on the dirt, stick with those. If you hate turf sprints, do not look at them at all. If maidens are your specialty, only play those races. You must build back your confidence, and the way to do that is to stick with which your are best.

4. Review – We all get busy in life, but this step is very important. You have to go back after the races have been run and review the results. Look to see what you did right, and what you did wrong. Did you miss something in your handicapping? Did you misjudge a pace scenario or miss a hidden drop in class? You have to find out why the results came out as they did, and if you should have done anything different.

5. Stay Positive - You have to remember, this is one big long game and you are going to get cold every now and again. It can be tough to keep the positive energy going through the tough times, but you have a short term memory in this game. Try not to get too high after the scores, or too low after the losses. You have to be confident to win in this game because scared money never cashes.


This is how I like to deal with a slump, and I would love to hear how the rest of you folks cope with droughts. Please feel free to drop a comment on how you handle cold streaks. I, along with everyone else I’m sure, would love to hear it. Good luck at the windows, guys. Have a great week.


 

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Older Comments about Five Things to Think about When Your Handicapping Goes Cold...

ne option that is not mentioned and should: SInce NO two race courses present the challenges the same way, Don't fret but follow 6 or so tracks and just shift to another where it is still working. In the day of simulcasting it is mandatory NOT to be in a rut and follow a single venue.
OK, I'll tell you what I think about when I'm off or way off. Problem is I don't make real bets - I plan to in the near future - say about 6 months or the Breeders' Cup races - closest track is about 3 hours away, but I don't know if they have betting on other races - they probably do, but I don't know. I have picked 'order of finish' for a little over 50 years. I have my own criteria and a set of rules - which fit pretty well to these '5 things'. If I don't get full of myself, I do pretty well. I tried 2 contests (free) leading up to the Kentucky Derby, mainly to see if my ideas would work in the 'real world' - they're hit or miss so I'm trying to figure out why. I do post my picks - used to just mean giving a list to a friend - this year I've put it on Facebook or Twitter before Post Time, or it does't count.
Glad HRN is back. When I get cold, I stick with what I usually do. I bet the same amounts I planned to (when I do "possible wagers" for races the night before) depending on odds. I never press and bet more, and sometimes I'll bet a little bit less just to try and get back in the flow of things. The greatest tip here is know if you are picking the wrong horses, or just getting unlucky. I always ask myself this question. Funny this came up, just a week ago or so, I had three straight horses (I backed them up for place, too, though, and I actually made a profit considering one of them was 20/1) and they all missed the win by either a head, a neck, or a length. This is unlucky. Other times, my horses are just not firing and I'm having an off day. These are days you try and not get frustrated and just stick to what you usually do, IMO. The point of the game is for your hot streaks to cover your cold streaks, and in my case that does happen but you always want to limit your cold streaks and emphasize on hot streaks.
one of the CARDINAL rules of the game: FIND venues that PAY enough to play them. I kick but at Pimlico and the Fair Grounds but they don't PAY enough to follow as does Hastings and many many others. FInd the one you understand and then PAY enough to follow long term. I suggest WOodbine and Oaklawn top these lists.
one of the CARDINAL rules of the game: FIND venues that PAY enough to play them. I kick but at Pimlico and the Fair Grounds but they don't PAY enough to follow as does Hastings and many many others. FInd the one you understand and then PAY enough to follow long term. I suggest WOodbine and Oaklawn top these lists.
I hit a $9.10 pick 4 at Gulf Stream last week. DON'T PLAY THOSE !!! Beginning to think WIN is the only get. Triples and exatas are not paying enough. At least at Belmont.
Timely advice, if you know what I mean?!
a substantial and LOST aspect of this game is the art of applying it selectively WHERE IT WORKS FOR YOU, NOT where you are FORCED to apply it (the very nature of these stupid false world contests). ANYone who has functioned in the real world for very long, and been the least bit successful at it, knows that NO ONE can be all things at all tracks and customizes his/her play to where it works and where it pays. These inane constests remove that option from the player's arsenal and forces commonailty on them which is about as real wordly as three dollar bills.
At least three others, from the looks of the likes.
What a stupid reply. Who am I an alias of you bitter old .........?
Why don't you go scrub the alias off of you. You reek of it!
Are you Mary? Or are you spending the day playing cougar with Sullivan?
No double talk, vodkak. And someone liked that? Are you even watching racing today?
More double talk from north of the border. You couldn't give a yes or no answer if your life depended on it.
There is much about that statement that is true, BUT picks have NOTHING TO DO with long range success at the track. It is ROI on the WAGERS one makes on the races that are overlays, NOT handicapping that keeps the score in this game
Post some picsk BEFORE the race, see how YOU do when put to the test. I do quite well
Funny..My account has a database so anyone who uses that service can print out week to week how they do. I am satisfied.
Stop listening to the "experts". Few if any actual wager on the races. Funny how none of the handicapping shows provide any stats on how these guys picks have fared
In the REAL world you learn that SHOPPING for where your handicappig works and then seraching for venues that PAY well is a larger part of the battle than the simple handicapping
In the REAL world you learn that SHOPPING for where your handicappig works and then seraching for venues that PAY well is a larger part of the battle than the simple handicapping

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 Meet Michael Barry   

 

 It all started 5 years ago for me after a spur of the moment trip to Saratoga Springs with my future wife.  I had always bet on the Triple Crown races, and made a few trips to Suffolk Downs annually, but not until that journey to The Spa did things get serious for me.  I fell in love with horse racing right then and there and I haven’t looked back since.  The following year I read every handicapping book I could get my hands on.  I became, and still am, a very passionate student of the game. 

 

Through this blog I hope to take you guys through my favorite aspect of the game, which is breaking down races and doping out winners.  I focus my attention between the NYRA circuit (mostly), Gulfstream Park, and Keeneland.  I also plan to provide very thorough coverage leading up to the Kentucky Derby and Breeders Cup.  I love analyzing the prep races leading up to both of those grand events. 

 

Wagering wise, I love playing pick 4’s and 5’s, and I have enjoyed some success in the past playing those types of exotics.  In any given race, I try to attack based on strength of opinion and value.  That may be in the form of an exacta, trifecta, superfecta, daily double, pick 3, or by laddering my choice across the board.  Every race is its own animal and must be played accordingly.

 

Personally, I am a graduate of Boston University and reside on the South Shore of Massachusetts with my beautiful wife Tara and wonderful son Finn.  I work as a technician for a communications company by day. 

 

I can be found on Twitter @mbarry24 and I’m always up to discuss anything horse racing related.