Jeff Tune's Gambling Blog
Tuesday, 14 May 2013
Presque Isle Downs . . . AND Casino
Happy Spring! Well it didn't seem much like spring on opening night of the 2013 racing season at Presque Isle Downs. There was snow in the air on May 12? Yep, mighty cold but nonetheless a good crowd on hand. PID had good racing last year and should be good this year as they have added two barns that consist of 48 stalls apiece. That should definitely increase the field size for races.
If you stick to playing the top jocks at PID you should cash some tickets. Last year's top three, Pablo Morales, Scott Speith, and Mario Pino all won on opening night. Leading 2012 trainer Joe Martin won twice. I cashed on Pino winning with a first timer at 6-1.
Keep in mind that the PID track is a Tapeta all-weather surface. Horses that have ran well on other all-weather tracks (like Keeneland and Woodbine) normally do well here. As far as shippers from nearby tracks go, for some reason Finger Lakes shippers do well here, while Thistledown and Mountaineer shippers not so well. I play mostly pick threes here and if you can get past the favorites the payouts can surprise you. Monday night I hit one that paid more than twice the parlay.
After the races Monday I decided to try my luck at blackjack. I have not had any luck in the few times I have played BJ at PID. There is usually only one five dollar table going and it is always full. However Monday I saw two five dollar tables with open seats at both. I sat down and immediately started winning. Played for just about two full shoes of BJ and then cashed out $45 ahead. Finally, a winning night at the tables! Oh by the way, it was the 13th of the month.
Sunday, 28 April 2013
2013 WORLD HARNESS HANDICAPPING CHAMPIONSHIP
I've always thought that the number 13 was more unlucky for me than lucky. But April 13, 2013 will be a day I will never forget. I was lucky enough to win an entry into the $100,000 World Harness Handicapping Championship at the Meadowlands(see my previous blog entry below for the story on that). The Meadowlands is not a track I normally bet so I had to quickly start handicapping the races there - without much luck I might add. Nonetheless, I was determined to be as prepared as possible come April 13.
One week before the tourney I paid particular attention to the Meadowlands races knowing that many of these same horses would be running the following Saturday. I watched closely and took notes, and then watched replays of the races at home and took more notes. Then two days before the contest I printed out Saturday's Meadowlands program along with the three mandatory races to play - one each from Buffalo Raceway, Woodbine, and Balmoral.
Friday night was a fun night out at the Meadowlands as all of us contestants were treated to a nice buffet and drinks in the Pegasus Restaurant. I didn't have much luck betting the races however, but the next night was the one that counts!
I woke up early Saturday morning and got to work handicapping and plotting my strategy. I was definitely looking for longshots and value horses. As far as the three mandatory races, I had pretty much decided on my three choices. You had to bet exactly seven of the thirteen Meadowlands races. This was probably the toughest decision to make - what races to skip. The format of the tourney was that you had to bet a minimum of $40 per race and a maximum of $100 per race. Win, place, or win and place. You had to bet exactly ten races.
I decided to skip the first two races since it looked very possible that the two favorites would win. They both did at 4-5 and even money. I played the 3rd and 4th race at odds of 5-1 and 29-1. I started out betting the minimum - $40 to win. My horses finished 3rd and 9th. Then I pre-bet all three of the mandatory races since I was pretty sure of my selections and didn't want to risk the chance of getting shut out. So now I have bet half my bankroll - yikes! In the Meadowlands 5th, I had planned to bet 9-2 morning line Kiss My Art but he ended up going off at 6-5! Skipped the race, Kiss My Art broke, and the race was won by a 10-1 shot. Uh oh, I thought, now I really have to look for longshots.
The Buffalo race was next and my selection won at 3-5. Well at least I won't go 0-for-10. In the Meadowlands 6th, I was really excited because the Meadows invader, Mattacardle was 16-1. This horse was on my horses-to-watch list after a tough first over trip the week before. But he didn't run a lick and the other Meadows invader won as the 3-2 favorite. Then I bet a 10-1 shot in the 7th - finished 6th. I now had only $186 and only three bets left!
Next up are the final two mandatory races. I played 7-1 Windsong Hercules at Woodbine. He is sitting second most of the race and in the stretch the rail opens up for him and he wins by 2-1/2 lengths! I now move up to 16th place in the contest. With the Balmoral race up next, I suddenly realize I can now afford to wager $100 per race. I already have $40 to win on 5-1 Upfront Miss Mator so I go to the window and add on $60 more to win. Upfront Miss Mator is last at the half mile but comes flying down the middle of the stretch to win by 3/4 of a length. I love you Casey Leonard! My bankroll now stands at $1044 and I am in 3rd place! Still six races to go at the Meadowlands however.
I am going for the win and I go with a 14-1 shot in the 8th. He runs well but finishes 4th. However the favorite wins and I remain in third place. With only two bets left I am in a dilemma. Race 9 features Western Trademark who had a super race the week before. After watching replays he was going to be my best bet on contest night. However tonight he gets the 10 post and also a driver change from John Campbell to Cat Manzi. Now Manzi is a hall of fame driver but is winning at a very low four percent this year. However, this evening he has had a win and two seconds! But even at 15-1 odds, I can't bring myself to bet him in the contest(I did put some real cash on him to win). Realizing I have only two bets left, I decide to skip the race. A 3-1 shot wins and I remain in 3rd place. I decide to skip the 10th and 11th races and save my last two bets for the final two races. Luckily, horses win at 3-1 and 5-2 and I'm still in 3rd place about $100 behind the leader. In the 12th race I go with 5-2 second choice Goddess's Justin with David Miller driving. He gets a picture perfect second over trip and wins pretty easily. I am now the leader by $70!
Bullet Speed is the 1-2 favorite in the finale and definitely looks like the horse to beat. I decide I must play "come and get me." I don't want to bet all of $100 to win on the horse so I decide to go $50 to win and $50 to place. I figure anyone who is in contention to beat me will have to play another horse. Bullet Speed wins easily and I win the $40,000 first prize plus my $1,334 final bankroll.
There is always luck involved in horse racing. I was definitely lucky in the online qualifier to win a spot in the final tournament. It was lucky that the rail opened up for Windsong Hercules. It was lucky that Goddess's Justin got a perfect trip. And it was especially lucky that only one horse at the Meadowlands paid over $10 to win and that seven favorites won. But I felt that I did my homework, stuck to my plan, and played the contest well. But who knows, maybe that number 13 really is lucky.
Thursday, 14 February 2013
So I've been playing the USTA online harness tournaments for the past five weekends. It's a free tourney and the winner receives a berth in the $100,000 World Harness Handicapping Championship (a $1,000 value). They limit the free entries to 1250 players. I've done ok in these tourneys but haven't come close to the top finishers.
Last Friday night the featured track was Northfield Park. Now back in the 70's when I was a college student in Cleveland, I spent many an evening betting the horses there but I haven't bet Northfield in years. In fact I hate the half-mile harness tracks and never bet any of them anymore. Nonetheless, I am always up for a free handicapping contest.
I had less than an hour to handicap the 15 races, but I did my best. I was watching the races at home and also following the leaderboard on HorseTourneys.com. I started out by picking a 14-1 winner, then hit the next two races with a 2-1 and 5-1 winner. Whoo hoo! I'm in first place after three races - tied with twelve others. In races 4-12 I didn't pick any winners but did have five place horses. So I'm still not too far behind but the leader is about $40 ahead of me. Then in race 13 my 15-1 selection gets the win and vaults me up to 8th place! But the tourney leader also has the horse and there is no way I can win as I have two favorites in the last two races. They both win and I end up in 4th place.
While following the leaderboard during the races, I noticed throughout the night that there were four players in the top ten with the same last name. In fact they finished 1-2-3- ahead of me. Someone playing multiple entries? No doubt! Right after the races were done I emailed HorseTourneys.com. They soon emailed me back saying they were aware of it, but it was hard to police something like that, especially since it is a free contest.
However, the next day I received a phone message from a rep from the USTA who is sponsoring the handicapping tournament. "Call me back, I have some news for you." It turns out they had noticed the curious results and someone was indeed using multiple entries from the same household, and they knew who it was. The guy is a professional handicapper who had actually previously made selections for the USTA! The USTA decided to award me a first place prize! (they also gave the winner a first place prize).
So anyways, I will be headed to the Meadowlands in April for the WHHC final tournament! I guess those college days at Northfield paid off!
Sunday, 20 January 2013
2012 was a successful year! I cashed way more tickets than in any previous year. I went to the races more often and wagered online quite a bit as well. I cashed tickets at 26 different tracks! The net result for 2012 was plus $607.
In a nutshell I had a great summer. Got hot in mid-June starting with a 47-1 winner at The Meadows only to be upped by a 73-1 winner two weeks later! Hit some decent pick threes at Presque Isle and had my best Saratoga meet in years.
I cashed nearly 3 times as many pick threes in 2012 as I did in 2011. The majority of these were .50 pick threes. I can play a lot more combinations at this price and the result was a positive one.
The stats below were similar to 2011. Thoroughbred vs. harness were almost identical to the previous year. The Meadows and PID were my winningest tracks once again but switched places from 2011. Saratoga was once again a strong track for me. Finally, the increase in pick three winnings made my year.
I only visited the tables three times in 2012, all at blackjack. No luck there as I lost $77. Thinking craps for 2013! Always a $5 table going on.
Thoroughbred vs. Harness
Thoroughbred winnings - 61%
Harness winnings - 39%
Meadows - 29%
Presque Isle Downs - 19%
Saratoga - 15%
Belmont - 5%
Gulfstream - 5%
By Bet Type
Win - 45%
Pick Three - 34%
Daily Double - 14%
Exacta - 7%
Wednesday, 18 July 2012
How can you pick five of the first six winners and lose money on the night? Easy if you are me. At Presque Isle tonight. Arrived too late for the first, my pick won at 4-5. Was in the long food line for the second, my pick won at 3-5. Played pick threes in the third, was ready to run to the window when I noticed my pick was 5-1 but not enough time. She wins at 4-1. My pick in the 4th, Silver Prospects wins at 9-1. I have some win money on this one. I'm alive in the pick three with two, including a $211 payoff for .50 with Radiant Sky who leads all the way around the track but loses by a head. Grrrr. My pick in the sixth - second choice at 2-1 wins it. I have him keyed in pick threes. 10-1 winner in the seventh is on my P3 ticket. I'm alive with two in the finale but neither wins. Meanwhile I'm losing money betting The Meadows. I leave the track slightly down for the night. On to Saratoga!
Update: I just hit a 4-1 winner at The Meadows, bet it on Twin Spires. Now ahead for the night, whew.
Monday, 23 January 2012
When looking back at 2011 it just seemed that I struggled all year. I just couldn't get a nice hit or a good streak going. Mid-summer, going into the Saratoga meet I was even for the year. I did ok betting Sar but then the post-Saratoga slump hit and I ended the year down $427.
Looking at my stats I see two major reasons for the losing season. First I did not hit any big pick threes. I hit a few mediocre ones but no signers all year. Generally I did not do well betting pick threes in 2011. Note that win bet winnings were more than double pick three winnings. Secondly, I did pretty horribly betting Woodbine harness. Woodbine has been my key to past winning years but it was a real struggle this year.
But there were some highlights. The Meadows continued to be a strong track for me (I just wish they offered a rolling pick three). I did very well at my home track, Presque Isle Downs. PID accounted for 26 percent of my total winnings - more than any other track. And as noted above, I had a good Saratoga meet.
Surprisingly, thoroughbred winnings beat out harness winnings for the first time in a few years. Probably because I did quite a bit of betting at PID. The racing was very good there in 2011, with larger fields than in years past.
I opened up a Twin Spires betting account in the spring, specifically to bet the Gulfstream Park closing day Rainbow Pick Six. No I didn't win that one but my balance stands at almost exactly what I originally put in. Online betting comes in handy at times and I'm having fun with it. I hit a pick four this year! I hardly ever bet these and this wasn't a very big one - it was a .20 payout which Woodbine offers. I plan to experiment with these in 2012.
Of course online poker was a bust since the feds closed down PokerStars last spring. I did get my balance returned to me. I figured I won approximately $3500 over the seven years that I played on PokerStars. I did play one live poker tourney here at Presque Isle Downs recently. It was a $50 buy-in NL Hold 'Em. I played well but didn't get very good cards at all. I didn't cash and finished 11th out of 37 players. It was a good learning experience and I will try some more poker in 2012.
I played blackjack only once all year. I was shocked one Saturday afternoon in early December when I spotted two $5 blackjack tables. Unheard of these days! And there was an open seat! I sat down and played for a short while and ended up losing $30. More $5 blackjack please!
Harness vs. Thoroughbred
Thoroughbred winnings - 62%
Harness winnings - 38%
Presque Isle - 26%
Meadows - 20%
Saratoga - 10%
Woodbine Harness - 9%
Gulfstream - 8%
Belmont - 6%
By Bet Type
Win - 55%
Pick Three - 25%
Exacta - 10%
Daily Double - 9%
Saturday, 23 July 2011
Happy Saratoga opening day!
I love handicapping Saratoga every summer. It's a real challenge. You have horses and trainers coming in from many different tracks. For me it is the ultimate handicapping puzzle. I handicap extra-hard at the Spa and when I win it's very rewarding. I use Jim Mazur's "Saratoga Handicapper" and Brisnet pp's for my handicapping. Historically, I've done very well at the Spa, but I've lost the past two years. I attribute that to the influx of turf sprints and New York-bred races. I will be up at Saratoga July 28-31. This will be my 21st year up there!
Opening Day Saratoga is an automatic vacation day for me. I used to always go up opening week, but the past couple of years they have opened on Friday instead of the traditional Wednesday. I don't yet have the 2011 "Saratoga Handicapper" (I never got my order form in the mail, I'll pick one up in Saratoga next week), but I use the Handicappers from 2010, 2009, 2008.
A great start to the meet as I hit the first race exacta. Tom Bush and James Bond are second-tier trainers who do well at Saratoga year after year. They combined for a $119 exacta. Then in the third, Wise Stop looked to be the speed of the six-furlong race. Last year Sar 6f races were won by wire-to-wire winners 37 percent of the time. My Brisnet pace figs showed Wise Stop to have a real speed edge. Bingo! Paid $11.80 to win. No more winners for the day but I showed a $50 profit.
Speed is looking good on both dirt and turf. I will probably put up selections for next Wednesday July 27, and I'll try to post to this blog from the Spa! Good luck!
Tuesday, 8 February 2011
2010 was a very good year. Profit from playing the horses was $1472 - not bad at all for this $2 bettor. I can pretty much narrow down that profit to one very good day betting Meadows harness and a two-week stretch at the beginning of May where I was on fire and couldn't lose (including a future bet on the Derby winner). I played to my strengths - harness racing, mainly Woodbine and The Meadows, and focusing on pick threes at those tracks.
The stats below tell the story. The Meadows was the surprise of the year. 37% of my total winnings! It was at the Meadows that I cashed three pick threes >$250 and three win bets >20-1. Once again Woodbine was a profitable track. Not one thoroughbred track accounted for more than five percent of my total winnings! Pick threes accounted for 55% of total winnings.
There were some racing disappointments. Once again it was not a good summer at Saratoga. Realizing that I wasn't doing well, I scaled back on my betting there. Likewise for my local track Presque Isle Downs - still a parimutual puzzler to me. But even more, the short fields turned me away.
Online poker was a success also as I cashed out $250 from PokerStars. Playing almost strictly sit-n-go tournaments.
My state of Pennsylvania okayed table games at the casinos. I played a little blackjack - basically sit-down-and-see-if-you-have-any-luck. And I didn't. Only played four times and lost $160. But I will try again in 2011.
Harness vs. Thoroughbred
Harness winnings - 70%
Thoroughbred winnings - 30%
Meadows - 37%
Woodbine Harness - 21%
Mohawk - 8%
By Bet Type
Pick Three - 55%
Win - 23%
Exacta - 14%
Daily Double - 8%
Friday, 24 December 2010
Experiment successful! I played 20 of the $2.20 tourneys (see below post) which cost me $44. I cashed for $67. Nice $23.00 profit. But if you look at the following recap, I should have quit after 10 tourneys. I started very strong and finished pretty bad, lol. The recap below shows my finish and "out" hand.
1. won - $11.00
2. fin. 11th (out: my J 10s vs. A9)
3. won $6.00 - fin. 7th. (out: my KK vs. A8)
4. won - $11.00
5. fin. 12th (out: my QQ caught trips vs. A8s caught flush)
6. won - $11.00
7. fin. 13th (my K8 vs. AQ)
8. won - $11.00
9. won - $6.00 - fin. 7th
10. fin. 12th (out: my 56 vs. 10 6)
11. fin. 21st (out: my A5 vs. KQ)
12. fin. 22nd (out: flopped top pair, top kicker - got beat by two pair)
13. fin. 20th
14. won - $11.00
15. fin. 25th (out: my trips vs. straight)
16. fin. 14th (out: 89s vs. 22)
17. fin. 10th
18. fin 16th
19. fin 21st (out: my 99 vs 55)
20. fin. 8th (out: my 55 vs. AA)
Tuesday, 7 December 2010
Every Sunday, PokerStars offers the Sunday 1/4 Million tournament. The prize pool is guaranteed at $250,000 and the buy-in is $11.00. This tourney attracts between 25,000-30,000 players each week. PStars has numerous satellite tournaments for this, but the one I usually play is the 36-player sit-n-go which has a $2.20 buy-in, and is a turbo tournament (the blinds go up every 5 minutes). The top six finishers win an entry in the Sunday 1/4 Million (and 7th place gets $6.00).
I seem to do quite well in these. I will play only premium hands but will try to see a flop cheaply with a small pair, suited connectors, or ace-suited cards. If I get short-stacked with less than 10x the big blind, I will go all-in with any kind of hand. Quite often this is how I will win these things. It's a different kind of tourney in that the big stacks may sit on their chips since they already are in the top six. The short stacks are playing cautiously, and by being aggressive later in the tourney, you can often steal the nice-sized blinds and really build your stack. Also these tourneys won't have too many real sharp players so the above average player will do well.
If I win an entry, I will usually unregister and take the $11 tournament dollars to use for a couple of $5 or $6 tourneys. But I've decided to experiment and try to parlay these $11 payouts. Can I win better than 20% of the time and make a profit?
To be continued . . .
update: 1 for 2 so far
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