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The 4 + 30 By Ed Bain
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  The 4 + 30
  Percentages and Profitability

     For 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                             Top


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