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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

The Psychology of a Horseplayer

Bar Graph


I posed the following question today on Facebook and Twitter ...

If you had collected $6 for every $1 bet through the first 2 months of 2014, would you:

A) Quit while you're ahead

B) Bet in greater amounts

C) Keep doing what you're doing

D) Quit your jobs and go pro

I wanted to see how horseplayers like me, answered this simple scenario. The numbers above are mine, but I wasn’t so much looking for an answer for myself, but rather as a bit of a case study into how horseplayers think.


A sampling of my favorite responses, reveals a fair amount of swashbuckling …

“D! Ride it till the wheels fall off. You only live once.” ~Josh Durra (Twitter)


Of course, some of the swashbuckling needed to be mixed with a dose of reality …

“(B) Wrong so often that, when right, "ya gotta get paid!" Push comfort zone some...can always cut back to current levels.” ~Tom Amello (Twitter)

“C, and start thinking about D !!” ~Ed Meyer (Facebook)

“Two months into the year?  C.  if that holds over an entire year?  D.” ~ Rogue Clown (Twitter)


The grinder’s mentality that I’ve always lived by…

“C, stay with your system.” ~Blake Webster (Facebook)

“C , understanding the ebb and flow of the game.” ~Red State Alliance (Twitter)


There was an analytical response from the voice of reason...

“When assessing these things, I'd recommend that you wipe away your biggest score over the sample, and see where your ROI stands after that. Obviously, your current ROI of returning $6 for every $1 bet is impossible to sustain. There are pros who make a good living by profiting just 6-cents on every dollar bet, coupled with a rebate.” ~Doug Salvatore (Facebook)


Smart thinking from from my agent to be…

"D, but only if there's a role on Horseplayers season 2 included.” ~George O’Brien (Twitter)


There’s always a wise guy or two…

“E, Decide to start telling the truth” ~Mike Jarboe (Facebook)


“E, Wake up” ~Ian Lozada (Facebook) 


And finally, two completely different views on the merit of greed…

“C  Why change if it's working?   Becoming greedy would be a recipe for disaster.” ~Robert Jarman (Twitter)


“B. Greed is good. Greed works.” ~Michael Harris (Facebook) 

So, where does this all leave me? Well, exactly where I started the exercise. I am a "C" guy. I always have been, and I probably always will be. I think I hate losing too much to do it everyday, or to ever desperately need to hit something quick to properly take care of my family. And I am well aware that there are always going to be times when you can't get out of your own way. Like most "C" guys, I feel like I know what I am good at it, and I'm happy to show a decent profit every year.


As far as the array of interesting answers I received, the numbers were pretty well in favor what I am going to do, although I enjoyed seeing all those who chose some variation of B and D, and the reasoning behind it. In a way, I envy those guys and gals who are not afraid to lay it on the line in a more serious way than me. I honestly think I could probably scratch out a living playing the horses, but it's just not who I am.


In the end, I think that may be the answer, it might not be who is the most skilled at handicapping and betting, but rather the type of person you are. For me, I believe it will always be a very enjoyable hobby. More power to you, if you have what it takes to make it a career. Either way, horseplayers are the ones who keep this sport moving.


I hope you found this little exercise as interesting as I did ... thank you to all who participated.



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Older Comments about The Psychology of a Horseplayer...

I think I'd say 'C', but I'm having problems adjusting the way I do things to fit into the Derby Dollars Contest. And since I don't really make bets, I don't really fit, but maybe someday I'll get brave enough to try.
When you're "hot you're hot," when you're cold you're icy," However I'm always Boo to you.
There's nothing like playing with "house money." When you're playing with scared money, you spread your bets and include favorites you know you should toss, but you're afraid to do so. When you're on a roll and playing with house money, you toss bad favorites more readily and bet more heavily on stone-cold exactas.
arazi, bet the early speed and don't lok back
Keep it going and send me tips! I can't pick my nose at Gulfstream!
Your handicapping would be very good of course and if for 2 months you have proven that it is no fluke...I would up my bets (a little) sooner thn the 2 months if you were rolling like that...I would also consider playing the pick 6 for some real money...and would like to be sitting at the Round table when making the 6 selections
C ---> As soon as you change what has been working well, you are in trouble. Takeout makes racing the toughest of all gambling to beat. Enjoy it while you're running well. I have had two nice signers in 2014 already, while in all of 2013 I had none.
600% profit?!? Are you kidding, i'd be rich & retired in NO TIME!! lol


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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing since birth. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 
As Managing Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Brian also serves on the the Board of Directors of ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
A graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives in Suburban Chicago with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra, where he is a professional golf instructor when he is not following the horses.