IT'S GONNA BE A LONG, HARD WEEKEND
AT THE ORLEANS
by Dave Gutfreuend, DerbyWars
Well, it's back to Vegas for the 2nd
time in four weeks, this time for the Horseplayer World Series (HPWS).
For those not familiar with the
HPWS, here is a brief summary of how it works. While there have been
numerous 'qualifying events', players can buy-in directly for $1000, which is
the amount from each qualified entry that goes into the prize pool. One
of the many great things about this event is 100% of all entry fees are
returned to players. NO TAKE OUT, hidden or otherwise. The expected
number of entries is in the 700 range making for a prize pool of $700,000 and a
first prize in the $300,000 range.
The contest takes place over three
days, Thursday-Saturday, and players make all of their own selections from
seven tracks around the country (AQU, TAM, GP, FG, HAW, SA, GG). Each
player makes fifteen mythical $20 Win-Place wagers with prices being
capped at 19-1 on the win end and 9-1 to place, though you are eligible
for the full price in excess of the cap on the initial $2.
To say this tournament is a long,
hard grind would be a massive understatement... even if it is essentially a
six-track contest with Golden Gate being usually unimportant due to
their typically short fields. And in my case, playing three entries,
I must make 45 plays per day while trying to figure out which plays to put on
which entry. Making the task slightly easier is being able to play the
same horse on more than one ticket and being able to play multiple horses in
the same race on the same ticket.
Come to think of it, how I am
going to find the time to blog on Thursday and Friday night ? I
digress. BTW, there will also be a quick re-cap on Saturday night and a
full-blown review on Sunday or Monday.
It goes without saying to defeat a
field of this size, one must do something special over the three days of
the tournament. Many contestants feel this means doing nothing but going
after huge longshots. Without making this into a long 'game theory'
discussion, let's just say I strongly disagree with that concept. Of
course, one will never win a tournament of this size and stature by being a
chalk-eating weasel but over the course of 45 Win-Place wagers with a
reasonable cap in-play, making solid 'value' plays and being consistent
are most important. Along the way, some of those 'value' plays are
going to have to be winners in excess of 10-1 but more balance is needed
than many contest veterans believe.
With credit to Derby Wars regular
'The Wright Stuff', here are the winning scores from the seven previous
HPWS...3278, 2691, 2929, 2985, 2619, 3324, 3416. So, in seven years
from 4,822 entries, nobody has ever been able to double their starting
bankroll of $1800.
While my 2010 campaign was
highlighted by wins in the NYRA contest at Belmont and at the LVH (formerly Las
Vegas Hilton) in the Pick the Ponies along with a runner-up finish in the Fall
Championship at the Orleans...aside from a 9th-place finish in the 2011 NHC,
last year was a big disappointment on the handicapping contest front for yours
And there is a sour taste in my
mouth from having gotten into a serious contending position entering the final
day in each of the last three tournaments which I played that had decent price
money (Orleans, Aqueduct, NHC) and miserably failing.
I would be grossly
disappointed having a favorable contest format along with three
entries, not being in sort of contention on Saturday. If I am in the
hunt, am looking forward to doing of better job of climbing the
leaderboard. As is the case with almost all horse racing (and poker, for
that matter) tournaments, the vast majority of the money goes to those in the
top few placings and my strategy is always to go for a Top-Three finish,
sometimes at the expense of a minor cash.
Lastly, am looking forward to interacting
with a number of Derby Wars' regulars out at the Orleans this week (unlike my
anti-social behaviour at Treasure Island). As part of my re-cap blogs
throughout the weekend, I will track the progress of some familiar Derby Wars'
names and truly hope if I don't win, someone whose name I see frequently on my
computer screen is victorious. I'll proudly be wearing my Derby Wars hat
and will be seated on the left side (when entering) of the ballroom towards the
I'll be back following Thursday's
races after contest standings are posted with a brief re-cap. Good luck
and good skill