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Wagering to Win at the Dog Races
Winning at the Dog Track
by Bill McBride

Learning how to handicap greyhound races is a start toward profit at the track. However, the world’s best dog handicapper can only expect to be 20% better than the average fan. And the crowd only picks the winning dog 25–28% of the time.

Greyhound handicapping is not, and never can be, an exact science. No matter how good you get at it, your selections will seldom finish in the order you predict; the very factor which creates the “surprise finishes” that so often result in truly handsome payoffs! This means that developing a sound wagering approach is at least as important as basic handicapping. In fact, I contend that it is even more important!

How can you design a profitable wagering approach? First, you must look at each grade and each course as a different proposition. Why? Because you will find that your handicapping works far better (or worse) on one grade than another, and you have to start with history! That is, you look at a number of races of a certain kind that you have handicapped, the more the better, and no less than twenty-five. You mark down how you scored in each of these races. If you picked win, place and show in perfect order your score would be 1, 2, 3. If your fourth selection won, your first pick placed, and your sixth pick showed, it would be written as 4, 1, 6. Next make a table like the following. In this table you will enter how your selections fared in those twenty-five races. It might look like this:

Section Rank Won Placed Showed
First Pick 6 4 4
Second Pick 7 4 6
Third Pick 3 6 6
Fourth Pick 5 6 3
Fifth Pick 2 2 4
Sixth Pick 0 2 1
Seventh Pick 1 1 0
Eighth Pick 1 0 1

In this example your top pick won only six of the twenty-five races, and your seventh and eighth picks won two of the races! Doesn’t sound like you did so well in this grade, eh? Be aware that the above example is quite typical but that a profit can be made with this level of handicapping results.

For example: if you are contemplating trifecta wagering, (the best potential for profit), you may need to include the first four picks in your wager to win, and you can probably stop there for the place position as well. But you’ll likely want to include your first five picks in the show position. Thus, your primary wager would look like this: 1234/1234/12345. This would cost $36 for a basic $1 wager. My guess is that you would have cashed a ticket on some thirteen to fifteen of those races. Now, all that is left is to go back over those twenty-five races, and record how many races this wager would have hit, and what those races would have paid. (You would have risked $900 on these twenty-five wagers, so your total must equal more than that.) Remember that if you had made that wager on those races, it would have diluted the payoffs so you’ll need to show a “paper” R.O.I. (Return on Investment) of at least 33% to be worthwhile. This would require a paper return of about $1200 on your $900. In practice, this level of success would likely provide a positive R.O.I. of some 25%, a most worthy and realistic goal!

If this example didn’t work out profitably, try another combination. Consider different kinds of wagers in different pools. You’ll see that your results are different in different grades and courses, at different tracks! All of this requires that you keep records of your handicapping, the race results, and the payoffs. If you haven’t done this, start now. If you’d rather not, then forget the possibility of any long-term profit!

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