Mutuel Feeling

When to Bet

The relentless look for overlays drives profitable wagering

By Frank Cotolo

This issue we will further explain win wagering with the Kelly Criterion chart (from the August issue). Our chart, you may recall, is for a basic $1,000 bankroll, but it may be used for a stake of any size. There is no difference in usage regardless of the stake.

This is the point in our courageous wagering series where the bettor is in control, though he is committed to the figures concocted by the handicapper and in the chart. The bettor will only make a bet if the correct situation surfaces and then he or she will apply the exact amount designated by the chart.

For purposes of simple explanation, we will only be talking about the win-betting procedure. If you recall, all exotic wagers will only be considered if the win wager becomes an appropriate move to make. The win-wagering chart commands all betting moves based upon making a valuable wager to win. We will review financial approaches to exotic wagering using the chart in a future edition.

The handicapper has set the stage for the bettor by perusing the races and choosing which ones may have investment possibilities. The handicapper, as we endlessly reiterate for obvious reasons of age-old misinterpretations, chooses the horses with the best chances of winning with the use of odds (percentages). The handicapper, therefore, does not pick first, second, and third choices, but delivers them based on their assigned odds.

Remember the handicapper “handicaps” each race by strict definition. The handicapper delivers to the bettor the odds for the horses in those races he or she feels may be open to investment. There does not need to be a set of past performances; the bettor just needs to know the odds in order to begin the job. A typical list of odds for any race the bettor will use could look as simple as this:

PostHorseHandicapper's Calculated OddsWinning Chance Percentage
2Trouble Ahead5-117
3Willy Wonder20-15
4George Tarport30-13
5Real Overtime5-229
7Junkyard Dog9-110
8Silly Me100-11

The odds, of course, represent percentages. The handicapper uses an “Odds Percentage Table”(OPT) and must make the odds’ percentage value for any race equal 100 percent.


Win OddsWinning Chance Percentage
Win OddsWinning Chance Percentage

It’s important for the bettor not to have past performances because the handicapper has done all of the work needed and the bettor cannot become involved in second-guessing the opinions that are “written-in-stone” odds. All the bettor needs are the handicapped odds and the toteboard and an ability to wager as closely to post time as possible.

Using the above example, let’s look at how the bettor will work. The bettor is looking for a win wager by comparing the handicapper’s odds on the list to the actual odds constructed by the betting public at the last possible moment there is to make a wager. The bettor is looking for a horse that is assigned odds of 6-1 or lower on the list and is going off higher than its odds. But wagering on any horse is not based on the odds assigned in the list above; the bet begins with the odds designated on the chart.

If you look at the wagering chart (see August issue or the copy you should have made) and you will see that the No. 1 horse, handicapped at 2-1, must be 3-1 for the bettor to make a wager. As well, the 5 must be 7-2 to make a wager and the 2 must be 7-1 to bet. No other horse on the list can be wagered on because all of them are over 6-1, which as we explained before, is the lowest percentage (14) we can assign within any margin of error.

Using these rules, the wager may never surface, even if it looks applicable at any time during the wagering. In rare occasions, there may be more than one win wager, in which case it is safer to pass the race than to split a win wager (further math would be needed to play a pair of win bets and it just isn’t worth the effort in the long run). Finding a single win wager is the goal and playing the amount designated on last month’s chart is imperative.

If the calculations call for any one of the three horses below 6-1 (in this case, the 1, the 2 and the 5), the bettor must make the win bet without any other speculations, opinions or re-calculating. The handicapper’s odds are never challenged.

To see more from the September 2017 issue of Hoof Beats, click here.

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