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Handicappers Rational?

"When people face an uncertain situation, they don’t carefully evaluate the information or look up relevant statistics. Instead, their decisions depend on a long list of mental shortcuts, which often lead them to make foolish decisions. These shortcuts aren’t a faster way of doing the math; they’re a way of skipping the math altogether. We forget our arithmetic lessons and instead default to the answer that requires the least mental effort." says Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Laureate and professor of psychology at Princeton.


Horseplayers would make great test subjects but are they rational?


Horseplayers are aware of their shortcomings, most of them anyway, but are powerless to stop themselves or overcome them.


My vice, like many, is I get into a mindset and play too many races. I have worked hard to overcome, how you ask?


First of all, we are really good at seeing the mistakes of others, we knock other horseplayers, you hear it at the OTB at the track,'and its usually from the guy that tells you his cat picked his next bet, you know that guy, nicknamed 'Cinch' or 'Skip', but we never find those same mistakes in ourselves.


In short, handicappers, horseplayers, lie to themselves.


I have seen players argue about who's the 'best', like it comes with a trophy.


Dr. Kahneman writes: "The scientists gave the students four measures of “cognitive sophistication.” As they report in the paper, all four of the measures showed positive correlations, “indicating that more cognitively sophisticated participants showed larger bias blind spots.” This trend held for many of the specific biases, indicating that smarter people (at least as measured by S.A.T. scores) and those more likely to engage in deliberation were slightly more vulnerable to common mental mistakes."


So even smarter players have a blind spot.


A really good player, friend, good, smart man, good handicapper, he told me the last 6 months he was in the worse rut of his handicapping career, and this guy has been very good player in Tourney scene.


"I have been a sheet reader for a long time, it wasn't working anymore, I ditched them, and I am doing much better", he told me last week.


It's not the sheets that were his achilles heel, it was the decisions he was making using the sheets, and he was smart enough to recognize it and make changes.


Other players, for example, one of their vices is they have to start a horizontal wager by spreading wide and using horses in the first leg, they don't want to get knocked out [playing on their insecurities].


We don't have the luxury to use the board publishing the sheets 12-18 hours in advance.


How have I changed and adapted to beat my vices ?

Well, for starters being aware.


I make myself use price plays I have on the sheet at post time, choosing the types of horizontals to play with a different strategy.


I don't care for having a 2-1 or 9-5 win first leg, I am caring more about having the double digit horse getting the ticket started, with the understanding I have already knocked out all the silly players who are afraid of being knocked out in the 1st.


I am beating my own insecurities of losing, and accepting them, making myself a smarter player.


Horseplayers can spin stories on why they do things but most act out of redundancy, the make the same mistake over and over again.


If they tell you ''they are no good at maidens, but on the other hand doing nothing to make themselves better and accepting a change of tactics and getting the info needed to help themselves.


"I'm no good at Fair Grounds'', told me one handicapper. "I never win'', well the reality he never wins period, so Fair Grounds is no different.


Look in the mirror.


Look at social media there are X feeds that makes the same tweets, same mistakes, year after year after year. They are unaware of their endless cycle of poor decisions and that, my friend, why most horseplayers are irrational.

Racingwithruno © been playing the races, since 1984.


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