The 4 + 30
Percentages and Profitability
several years now Iíve been referring to Ed Bain as a
model of a successful horseplayer. Iím not sure how
many folks have taken me seriously. Itís not easy to
accept what Ed stands for. We might have to change our
ways as handicappers, and we would surely have to
examine the way we conduct ourselves from the standpoint
of discipline. I am honored to write this preface, for
Ed Bain has achieved something that I know from personal
experience is not an easy feat: he makes his living from
the profits derived from betting on horses.
On three occasions during my own horse betting
life, I have set out to make a living at the track. I
succeeded on all three occasions, but I failed as well.
Succeeded because I was able to make the necessary
profit I had set out to make. Failed because, on each
occasion, the stress soon became unbearable, I stopped
enjoying what I was doing, lost my intensity, and
eventually made a tactical retreat to a far less intense
mode of betting. Top
As I engaged in less emotionally strenuous
forms of generating income, my horse betting would
regress, not in quality but in quantity. Yes, my bottom
line remained profitable, but on a recreational level
that pales in comparisons to what Ed Bain has achieved.
Now that Iíve read Edís manuscript, I am moved to do it
all again, armed with Bainís homespun wisdom, including
his unique ideas on stress control, which cannot be
separated from his methodology.
Naturally, I have certain affinities with Edís
approach. Heís practicing what Iíve called
ďanti-handicappingĒ. He knows that the public overbets
certain classical factors, especially speed, and he
knows that his trainer stats are now underbet factors
and probably will remain so, since the public is so
conditioned to do it the traditional way.
He has minimized the amount of his own
subjective intervention, which is something Iíve
advocated as well. Why not make the initial discovery,
and then track it? If it proves profitable, why not
back it? And after itís established itself as a proved
winning record, why not raise the stake?
Which brings us to the structural part of Edís
approach. Once he has isolated his most powerful
trainer specialty stats, which you will read about, he
creates a system of filters to help him weed out those
qualifying wagers of less reliability.
He knows that the downfall of many a good
handicapper is betting too many races, and that among
those surplus bets we find negative statistics that
could have allowed us to pass the race.
Once the filters have been applied, we end up
with a selective horseplayer who only invests when the
probabilities are in his favor. With four bets per day,
sometimes fewer, thereís a better reason to keep the
wager at a high enough level to produce a real income.
Edís steely discipline is not an abstraction; it is
related to the way he selects a horse, and the way he
passes a race.
But it doesnít stop there. To maintain the
discipline and to know the performance of his stats, Ed
must keep meticulous records. As if he were a whole
accounting department. If the trainer stats are the
content, the work ethic is the form. Form and content
mesh in an extraordinarily simple way, derived from an
equally extraordinary complexity.
Like all great simple methods, Edís first pass
through the complex process of discovery. The abstract
conclusions came from concrete experiences.
Vernon Law, former Pittsburgh Pirate pitcher,
once said that ďExperience is the worst teacher because it
gives you the test before the lesson.
I believe that Ed Bainís experience will save
us from a lot of these cruel tests. He recounts the
years of testing that led him to the conclusions he has
practiced for the past decade. His transformation is
the type of existential success story that should serve
as model for those horseplayers who are willing to
change. Willingness to change is the sign of true
experience. The horseplayer who brags abut his 20 years
of experience is usually talking about one year of
experience repeated twenty times. Ed could change and
so can we. Maybe not the same way Ed did it. Bet we
can learn valuable lessons, in a painless way, from his
experience. Mark Cramer