Saturday, February 2, 2013

If something new and different comes along and it looks too good to be true, it makes sense to be skeptical. But perhaps you shouldn't pass judgment until you have all the facts?

It was P.T.Barnum who said that there's a sucker born every minute, and someone probably equally famous but unknown to me commented that it isn't possible to under-estimate the intelligence of the American people.

(Sounds like Will Rogers to me, and maybe he was talking about American gamblers...but who knows?).

I have indulged myself in minor rants here before, and the best I can hope for is that they contain something of relevance to my long-suffering readers, so here goes!

I've been swimming upstream and against the current of conventional wisdom for long enough to know that some people will half-listen to what I have to say about beating the odds, and then conclude that I'm a compulsive liar, a con artist or barking mad.

And any demonstrations I offer, such as huge "wins" against iPhone gambling apps or online demo games are dismissed as anecdotal or flat-out cheating.

Same goes for randomly-generated numbers that show profits against more outcomes than a high-speed casino player would likely encounter in 100 lifetimes (assuming that cards could be dealt, wheels spun and dice tossed with equally blazing speed!).

Quite how it's possible to push the bankrolls into the high six figures in games I didn't write, cannot control and certainly don't know how to hack is beyond me, but I suspect some people are more comfortable accusing me of fakery than they are with accepting that maybe their long-held beliefs are wrong.

My horse-race betting project has been galloping ahead (pardon me) for almost a year now, and these days the Sethbets website is solely devoted to it.

As usual, I have gone overboard with spreadsheet models and colorful outtakes, and also as usual, progressive betting Target-style is proving to be a powerful means of winning consistently over the long term against odds that would seem to be insurmountable.

That's not to say that sometimes long-shots don't take over the lead positions for too many successive races, temporarily upsetting statistical expectation and Target's apple-cart, but anyone who has ever tried gambling in a serious way knows the truth of the cliche that it takes money to make money.

The horse-race pages on my website have been regularly updated for about six months now, and once in a while I will hear from someone who says they have seen enough numbers in my summaries and breakdowns to hazard a good guess at the betting method I am using.

If they're right and they can make money from what they have deconstructed from my bulletins, they don't have to say thanks and they're very welcome.

This week's e-mail brought something new: A commentary from an old handicapping hand who told me that the algorithm he had deduced (inaccurately as it happens!) was "brilliant"...but that it would never work in the real world.

The scenario that my imagination called up in response to this featured an exciting new car that Detroit had kept under wraps except for a wheel and part of the back bumper visible through the curtain.

Up comes a critic who says to the car's (proud but humble) designer:  "Did you road-test that thing?  Has it been through wind-tunnel tests?  Does it have an engine?  I can tell you right now, it's never going to work."

A couple of interesting questions came my way as my tires were being kicked:  Did I know that if you make a bet bigger than $500 and win, your bookie will never take your money again, and did I realize that odds change even after the starting gate clangs up so an odds-based strategy can't work?

My answers: No and no.

It is certainly true that if a Target GG player were to place a $25,000 bet on a race with a relatively paltry pool, he'd drive the odds on his selection through the floor and in effect he would be betting against himself.

With thanks and appropriate obeisance to the redoubtable NYRA, the above is an example of a pretty decent pool in which a Target max bet would not cause much of a ripple.

But what's lost here is that Target GG isn't intended for on-track use as much as for application in casino and online race books, where bets have no effect whatever on track odds.

It is true, of course, that off-track books have limits, but a $25,000 bet would faze very few of them, and in any event, my recommendation has always been that large bets be spread across multiple books to keep warning bells to a minimum.

That is a practical option as long as I keep doing what I do, which is to bet track by track and not race by race.  Logistical problems are a major headache if  races are only a few minutes apart, but most tracks program at least 25 minutes between events, and the time lag is often much longer.

As for rapidly-changing odds, that would certainly be a problem if Target's bet values were dependent on tote prices.  But they're not and that's that (a more detailed explanation is not called for here).

The future I see for Target GG lies with a network of investors and runners who will together profitably exploit an opportunity that I see as unique.

Progressive betting is demonstrably viable against casino table games, but they require a player to suffer through hour after hour in a noisy and uncomfortable environment in which second-hand smoke can kipper their lungs.  Fun for an occasional hour or two, maybe, but no way to make a living.

My (almost) two-year transparent sports betting project at Sethbets was a long-term winner, but 20 bets a day was as much action as I could find, and the process requires patience and commitment, both of which I have, but some days I felt like I was on the brink of barking madness (see above).

Horse-racing is on the face of it volatile and hazardous, and for years, much as I loved an occasional day at the races, I used "too many contenders" as an excuse for looking elsewhere for betting action.

Then one day, a link to this blog found its way onto a horse-racing bulletin board (they call them forums these days and I had nothing to do with it) and I was quickly bombarded with queries about whether or not Target could make money at the tote.

Almost a year later, I have the answer:  Yes, it can.

Oh, and about those silly iPhone games...

_ An important reminder: The only person likely to make money out of this blog is you, Dear Reader. There's nothing to buy, ever, and your soul is safe (from me, at least). Test my ideas and use them or don't. It's up to you. One more piece of friendly advice: If you are inclined to use target betting with real money against online "casinos" such as Bodog, spend a few minutes and save a lot of money by reading this. _