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Jeff Tune's Gambling Blog
Wednesday, 6 January 2016
2015 RECAP

Well, there was some good for 2015 and a lot of bad.  Let's take a look at how it went down.  First the bad.

1.  I lost money gambling in 2016.  I hate to sound like a broken record but once again I had a pretty terrible first half of the year.  In fact it was a terrible first seven months.  I actually stopped keeping track of my net win/loss for each day around June.  I was frustrated with constant losing days, and couldn't seem to get anything to go well.

2.  I don't think I actually won money at any one track except for Saratoga. PID was at best break even last year.  

3.  Harness racing was a bust.  Probably the bulk of my play for the year is Woodbine/Mohawk and I did not do well at either track.  Although I had anticipated doing well at Hoosier, it was not to be. The same can be said for The Meadows.  As a reult I soon downplayed both tracks in 2016.

4. Pick three betting was not profitable.  Although I cashed a lot of P3 tickets, way too many were small .20 payouts at the Canadian tracks.  Even most of my .50 payouts were small.  I am going to have to take a close look at my P3 betting.

There was some good to 2016:

1.  Won $250 in the Buffalo Raceway WHHC qualifier. I did throw $40 into Horsetourneys and played five $8 contests with no luck,  Still, I consider myself a good contest player and will try some more Horsetourneys in 2016.

2.  My August streak. I lost money betting Saratoga the first two weeks of the meet (unusual for me),  but then at the beginning of August I got on a real streak. I cashed more tickets in the month of August than I ever did in one month. It seemed like everything I bet was winning.  Not only Saratoga but Presque Isle and Mohawk too.  I was even making winning spot play bets at tracks I never play like Belterra and Canterbury.  Unfortunately, I was making mostly minmum bets after my rough start at SAR.  But I still managed to double my online account during August.  Payouts for August accounted for nearly 25 percent of my total for all of 2016.

3.  I visited two new racetracks in 2015.  Tioga Downs--on the way home from Saratoga.  This small harness track is located just west of Binghamton. Also went to Mahoning Valley Racecourse, near Youngstown, Ohio.  Mahoning Valley only opened a year ago and is the replacement track for the recently closed Beulah Park. I enjoyed this small track and racino.  It's an easy drive for me--an hour-and-a-half from my house.

As for casino gambling, I played more blackjack than usual last year and came out almost exactly even.  Incidently, I'm planning a Vegas trip in 2016.

As far as looking ahead to 2016. there are questions I need to ask myself.  Scrap the .20 and .50 pick threes? Play less pick threes? Play more exactas? Play more thoroughbred racing? I do know that I will try to focus more on my strengths--Saratoga, turf racing, my harness horses-to-watch.

Here are the numbers for 2015.  The big surprise was quite a bit more thoroughbred dollars than harness.  Pick three winnings and win bet winnings just about switched places from the previous year.  Daily double winnings were up. Note that "all other racetracks" were more than any one track.  I did bet 32 different tracks in 2015 and had some success with spot plays at other (mostly thoroughbred) tracks. 

Thoroughbred vs. Harness 

Thoroughbred winnings   -   65%

Harness winnings       -       35% 


By Track 

Presque Isle Downs   -      17% 

Woodbine Harness    -      16% 

Saratoga           -              15% 

Mohawk             -               9% 

Gulfstream         -               7% 

Hoosier Park      -               5% 

Meadows         -                 4% 

All other tracks      -           27%


By Bet Type 

Win/Place      -       41%

Pick Three      -      29% 

Daily Double    -     19% 

Exacta          -        11% 



Posted by pa/tune at 8:48 PM EST
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Sunday, 3 January 2016

Happy 2016! 

It's a new year, with a new bankroll, let's make some money this year!

Friday night I printed out the pp's for Gulfstream and Tampa Bay.  I didn't get a chance to handicap much--just the first few at GP and quickly looked through the Tampa Bay card.  TB looked tough and nothing jumped out at me.  I've done much better at Gulfstream than Tampa Bay the past few years, but I like those TB .50 pick threes. 

I got up to PID fairly early (not early enough to play blackjack), so I had some time to do a little handicapping before the races started.  My first bet was a small .50 pick three in Tampa's 2-3-4 races.  No strong opinion in any of the races but just wanted a little action.  I played a $2 ticket 4x1x1. So one of my horses wins the first leg at 16-1. Then I hit the second leg as PID jock Scott Spieth brings home a 3-1 winner on the turf. I'm alive to the big fave in the 4th, INASWAGGER, ridden by top Tampa Bay jockey (and reigning PID champ) Antonio Gallardo.  Tony and INASWAGGER win easily and my pick three returns $103.  Very nice way to start out the year!  Then in the 5th race I again like a Scott Spieth horse on the turf who is going off at 7-1.  I put a win bet on him.  Bingo!  Spieth wins again with a last-to-first run.

In the 6th, I decide to play a small double. Two pricey horses with my top choice in the 7th.  Gallardo wins the first leg for me with a 12-1 payout.  Gee, I should have rolled my Pick three as it returned $225 for .50.  Or at least played a double-- the $2 daily double returned $536!!

I sit on my double ticket in the next race and my second choice wins it ($8.20).  Again I'm shaking my head for not playing the daily double or pick three.  The $2 DD returns $146 and the .50 pick three returns $620!!

The rest of the day was not as exciting.  I only hit a small exacta and a small double at Gulfstream but nonetheless a nice day to start out the year! 

Posted by pa/tune at 9:53 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 3 January 2016 9:56 PM EST
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Thursday, 3 December 2015

A quick report on tonight's action.  I went up to PID to bet some Woodbine harness and hopefully get in some blackjack action.  Found a seat at the $5 table.  Kamal was the dealer. I hit a double down early on and then placed a $10 bet with my match play.  I got a 16 and the dealer had a 9.  The play is to surrender so I did and lost my match (would've lost anyway). In fact I surrendered twice during my short session.  I also pushed three times.  I guess you can't complain about pushes--you're not losing anything.  Reminds me of what my ex-wife used to call me - Even Steven.  Well, Kamal was pretty lucky and I left down $17.50.

On to harness betting.  I had one horse to watch tonight in the 5th race,  Pier Ho Temptation.  He had a tough first over trip last week getting hung the first half mile in a fast pace and fading late. But he looked to have some pretty good competion tonight and I picked him third. Anyways, I played a pick three for races 3,4,5.  A .20 play 2 x 1 x 5 for a $2.00 bet.  I had the 4/5 winner in the first leg and then my single in the second leg closed from way back to get up for the win - $6.50.  I'm alive to five. It turns out that Pier No Temptation is my longest price and he gets up by a nose to win!  He pays $17.70 to win and my .20 payout is $26.17.  Not bad as that is about 2.5 times the parlay.  So I ended up ahead for the races $17.77.  Even Steven!!

P.S.  Just for fun, I wrote down a proposed pick four play at Woodbine--races 4,5,6,7.  I used Steve Crist's ABC method with multiple tickets.  Turns out my three tickets would have cost $16 for a .20 play, and I would have won on one of them!  $.20 payout = $289.67.  Ouch!



Posted by pa/tune at 10:15 PM EST
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Sunday, 29 November 2015

More blackjack!  Went up to PID early yesterday in hopes to get in a little blackjack before the simulcast races started. Sat down at a $5 table around 11:30 AM.  A fellow player warned me, "You might not want to play this shoe, the dealer has already had two blackjacks."  Nonetheless, I bought in for $80 and got my $10 match play coupon.  The dealer was Andrew. I hit a blackjack right away and won a double down early on. But yes, Andrew was pretty lucky.  After playing maybe half the shoe, I lost three in a row and stood up, down $7.50.  

But I still have my match play so over to the roulette table I go!  I decide to put my $10 bet w/match play on even.  The delaer spins the ball and it starts to rotate but then jumps off the table! Hmm, good sign or bad sign?  He spins another one and bingo! Black-6! I take my $20 and wander over to bet some horses ahead $12.50.  Turns out after betting all afternoon that's about what I lost, so a break-even day for me, lol.

Incidently, I just read this article about gaining an advantage at the roulette table by identifying a "dealer signature." I may have to try it!

Posted by pa/tune at 7:36 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 29 November 2015 7:50 PM EST
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Thursday, 19 November 2015

I've been itchin' to play some blackjack for a few weeks--I'm in the middle of a free $10 match play which I can use every three days.  I'm always looking to play at a $5 table ($10 tables can get expensive).  There is usually a $5 table going during the daytime and early evening but quite often they are full.  Also I like to watch a few hands before I sit down.  I will do a quick card count--yes I can count cards a little.  If the count is unfavorable I won't play.  

Tonight it looked good--it was a little before 7:00PM and there were only two people sitting at the $5 table.  Big Mike was the dealer but this was also a handicapped table so Big Mike was sitting down and didn't look so big.  I bought in for $80 and won my first two hands.  I then upped my bet to $10 and used my match play.  Bingo! Won it! Nice to start out $30 ahead.  I had pretty good luck--won a couple of double downs.  I did surrender a couple times.  I've been watching players surrender occasionally, and I'm not sure if it is good strategy--I'm going to have to research it.

I didn't play very long, not even a full shoe but Big Mike started to get lucky. I lost 3 or 4 hands in a row-- that's usually when I will cash out, especially when the dealer gets a BJ. I ended up ahead $30 and tipped Big Mike a $2.50 chip.

I also made a few horse racing wagers. Hit a small pick three at Woodbine Harness and ended up even with my wagers. Gotta make it a point to play more blackjack--I am well ahead for the year (something I can't say for horse racing, lol.)

Posted by pa/tune at 10:42 PM EST
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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Last Saturday was the Buffalo Raceway final qualifier for the World Harness Handicapping Championship.  There were only twenty of us handicappers entered (see my previous post). The top five get paid and the winner gets the trip to the WHHC finals at the Meadowlands. The contest format was the same as before, and as usual I came prepared.  I really wasn't in love with the races this evening but who knows - anything can happen.

I had a couple horses at each track I really liked but I was afraid their prices would be too low.  My first prime horse was King Otra in the third race at Buffalo. He was 8-1 morning line but I figured he would be half that at post time.  Surprise surprise! He was 12-1 at post time!  But alas, King Otra ran evenly and finished 4th.  The very next race was my other Buffalo best bet, Most Happy Rider who went off at only 9/5.  Nonetheless I played him in the contest.  He looked like a winner in the stretch but lost by a head to a 13-1 longshot (luckily no one had this horse). Anyways I am on the board with the place money - $390.

I also bet the Meadowlands third and fourth race but only came away with $360 in place money.  Then in the sixth I passed on my first Meadowlands prime bet as he was only 3/2 odds (he won).  One other contestant hit the 14-1 winner in Buffalo's 7th to take a big lead.  However no one else was doing very well at all, or they were saving all their bets untill the late races.  My other Meadowlands prime bet didn't run a lick in the 8th, and I lost my bet in Buffalo's 8th. I now only have four bets left.  It will be tough to catch the leader but hitting the top five is do-able. Still, I need to look for some prices. In Buffalo's 10th I play the #1 horse, Gary's Party who is sitting at 6-1.  But at post time he drops to 3-1.  Gary's Party nearly goes wire-to-wire but gets beat a neck.  The $410 place money gets me into 8th place but not far from the top five.

In Buffalo's 12th I go with K C COLT, another runner who gets bet down late to 3-1.  K C COLT is game as hell going a long first over but loses it by a head. More place money but only $320. Luckily mostly short prices at both tracks so nobody is making up any ground.  Contestant Dick H. is still way ahead.  I still need to look for a price horse so I land on Relentless Dreamer in the Meadowlands 10th.  He is picking up David Miller, one of my favorite drivers.  My notes for his race last week say "ok close from last."  He's gonna have to do it again as he is from the 9-hole tonight. Relentless Dreamer is sitting at double digit odds when I place my bet.  Well, he uncorks a furious stretch run and I'm yelling for him to get up but it's a neck loss.  Another close second place finish!  He ended up at only 6-1 but the $700 place money puts me in 6th place only $10 behind the 5th place contestant! Buffalo is done and there are three races left at The Meadowlands.  I only have one bet left and decide I must wait until the last race to see where I stand.

Going into the 13th and final race nothing has changed - I am still in 6th and $10 away from 5th.  The leader is about $3000 ahead of me.  I have somewhat of a dilemma in this race.  Triple Major is a horse who has been on my horses-to-watch list for the past two weeks as he has had two tough first over trips!  But Triple Major is 1 for 45 over the past two years!  Plus he moves out to the 8-hole tonight, and maybe most importantly, goes from driver Andy Miller to Andrew McCarthy who is only winning with 4% of his drives this year. Triple Major opens up at 18-1, enough to probably make me the contest winner.  But his odds drop to single digits making my decision much easier.  I cannot play Triple Major, and I decide that I can't catch the contest leader and I am going to try to finish in the top five. There are three other horses vying for favoritism  Of the three I decide the most likely winner is Gratias Deo, a winner last week.  I'm a bit concerned that last week's driver Corey Callahan has jumped to another horse and is being replaced tonight by Vincent Ginsburg, who is batting only 6% this year.  However he is 2 for 5 with this trainer so I'm crossing my fingers. 

Gratias Deo wins easily at 5/2 and the win place money for me is $1060 which vaults me to a third place finish in the contest!  Good for $250 in prize money.  Ironically, it was Gratias Deo who I bet in the last race of last month's contest which ended with me in third place.  Deja Vu all over again!

It's actually quite a shocker that I ended up in third with only one winner on the night and five small place cashes.  In fact my final total was only $3240.  That is actually a losing night when you consider I'm betting $4000 total! I'm just lucky no one else did very good except for the top two.  Still a surprise as there were seven horses who paid double digits.

Posted by pa/tune at 10:32 PM EDT
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Monday, 9 March 2015

Mood:  celebratory

Last Saturday night I ventured up to Buffalo Raceway for the first of their four qualifier contests for the World Harness Handicapping Championship.  They hold four of these in the month of March and the top five finishers from each contest return on April 11 for the finals.  

Here is the contest format:  You must make ten mythical $200 win/place wagers.  Five of the ten wagers on any of the Buffalo Raceway races and the other five on any of the Buffalo Raceway or Meadowlands races.  As usual I came prepared - I had handicapped in advance, watched replays, and had plotted out my contest strategy - which races I would play/pass.  

My first bet was my best bet of the night at Buffalo.  ELITE was coming off a long, tough first-over trip last week where he only missed winning by a neck. Tonight he had the rail post and he was going off at an unbelievable 8-1.  I played him in the contest and put some real money on his nose also.  He looked like a winner at the top of the stretch but could not get by the 4-5 favorite, and lost by a neck again!

My next bet was in the 4th at The Meadowlands.  SMART ROKKER was shipping in from Freehold where he won his last race with a very tough first over trip.  And for that effort he received the highest last race Trackmaster speed figure of this bunch!  Despite this he was being ignored in the betting and was 14-1 at post time! Driver Brett Miller got him up to win by a neck, and my resulting win/place total was $4640 which vaulted me into first place.  Only one other contestant in the contest had him (there were 44 players in the contest tonight).  I added to my total on five of my next six bets.  The other contestant, Dick H. moved into first with a 10-1 winner. He and I were way ahead of everyone else and with two bets left, I needed only $700 to pass him.  I struck out on my ninth bet and decided to go with my original pick in The Meadowlands finale - GRATIAS DEO, 5-1 ml odds..  It was getting late and I placed my bet and left early to head back to Erie.  I checked the results when I got home.  GRACIAS DEO finished second to a 37-1 longshot winner. I got the $600 place money - not enough to pass Dick H.

Well, I didn't see the official final results until a couple days later but someone had that 37-1 winner in the finale and as a result easily won the contest (there should be a cap on longshots in this contest).  I ended up in third so I qualified for the final on April 11.  I really can't complain about my results - out of my ten bets I had three winners and five seconds.  Three of those second place finishers lost by a neck!     Stay tuned!

Posted by pa/tune at 7:28 PM EDT
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Friday, 23 January 2015
Blackjack Again

Another Thursday night, another match play in hand, and a couple of $5 blackjack tables going.  I started out the night betting some Woodbine harness races but kept wandering out into the casino to check the BJ situation.  I didn't find a seat (or a desirable one) right away.  But soon it was after 9:00 PM, and being a school night I figured I better sit down and play pretty soon.  I sat down at a $5 table and dealing was Matthew.  I got a blackjack my first hand!  Matthew was a friendly, fun dealer and the table was friendly and fun too. These are the BJ tables I like and it was no surprise I had some good luck.

I played almost two shoes of blackjack - that's a long time at a table for me.  And Matthew dealt the whole time!  I got three blackjacks along the way (Matthew got zero!).  One hand I wasn't sure about.  I had 99, dealer showed an 8.  Should I split?  I wasn't sure but I thought I should.  I had brought my BJ cheatsheat along but it was in my jacket which was back at my seat in the simulcast area.  I asked the table and dealer if should split it.  Dealer said no, player next to me said yes.  I split.  Got a 8 on one hand and a 2 on the other.  I  doubled that one and got a 4 for 15.  Dealer busted! Turns out a couple hands later I realized my BJ cheatsheat was in my back pocket!  Yes, you should split 9's against the dealer's 8.

The only negative was that I lost my match play at the BJ table.  I left the table ahead $47.50.  One sidenote about this fun table.  There was an in-between bet that you can make - dealer's up card must fall in between player's two cards.  And if the player's first two cards and the dealer's up card form three of a kind, then the player wins 30-1.  Well, the dude sitting at first base hit three of a kind twice in a row!  What are the odds??!! Needless to say the table was hootin' and hollerin'.

note:  the probability of hitting trips here is .0054, and overall the house edge on this bet is about 3.00%.

Posted by pa/tune at 9:12 PM EST
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Friday, 16 January 2015

Well the winter weather has kept me from heading up to the casino but I finally made it there last night.  I wanted to play some blackjack and use my $10 match play coupon!  Weeknights always feature a couple of $5 blackjack tables and sure enough I saw an empty seat. It was right between a big guy and a big girl and even though I'm a slender guy, I didn't want to squeeze in next to these two.  Plus the big guy was smoking a cigar.  A few moments later a seat opened up at the other end.  But the guy next to it is smoking a cig and setting it down in an ashtray right where I would sit.  Even though this table is winning I take a seat at the other $5 table.

The dealer is Bishari who is a nice enough guy but is beating up on the players.  Soon dealer Charles takes over and he is extremely lucky.  I get one blackjack along the way but I never win two hands in a row!  Needless to say I don't play very long and leave down $18.50.  I decide to use my $10 match play at the roulette table!  The match play coupon is good for any even money bet at tables games - blackjack, roulette, craps.  I figure my best bet is roulette.  Odds of winning an even money bet are 47.37%.  I'm guessing this is better than winning a single hand of blackjack and sure enough, a quick search tells me that the odds are around 43%.  I'm not sure about a pass line bet in craps but I'll pass on that.

I decide to bet my $10 on 1-18.  I don't look at the wheel and I hear the dealer announce "11".  Nice!  I win $20 with the net table game profit a big $2.50.  Funny thing is when I go to Las Vegas and have a single red chip left in my pocket I always play it at the roulette table right between 11 and 12.  I will report back on my next table game/match play adventure!

Posted by pa/tune at 5:35 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 16 January 2015 5:40 PM EST
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Tuesday, 6 January 2015
2014 RECAP

I've always said I have three goals when betting horses.  My goals are to win money, cash tickets, and have fun.  Well, I accomplished two out of three in 2014 and you can probably guess which one I didn't.  Yes, I lost money in 2014.  Cashed lots of tickets (more than in any previous year), had tons of fun, but lost money.  

I started losing early in 2014 and never climbed out of the hole.  The first five months were dismal, summer was pretty good, and fall was probably break-even.  This seems to be a common pattern almost every year so I should probably take it easy until May and then bet with both fists during the summer, lol.  

There were some positives.  Number one was that I had a winning Presque Isle meet.  PID is my home track and I did fairly well betting there this summer.  Also, I again did well at Hoosier Park.  I really need to focus on this track - it's sometimes tough because of their early post, and also it conflicts with Presque Isle. Woodbine harness was dismal in early 2014 but I did much better in late 2014.  So hopefully I can get a good start betting WDB in 2015!  I once again did pretty good handicapping the big thoroughbred races.  Loved Cal Chrome in the KY Derby and played a slew of exactas with him but didn't have the $340 exacta with Commanding Curve, grrr.  I did have some win money on 9-1 Tonalist in the Belmont.  I also finished in 3rd place in an online Triple Crown contest (thanks to Tonalist).  I won a nice wine sampler from a great Calif. winery!

I finally visited Keeneland!  I loved the track and will definitely return.  I'm thinking about Breeders' Cup!  Also, I would like to get up to Thistledown in 2015 - it's been nearly 15 years since I've been there!  I also want to check out the new Mahoning Valley Racetrack.  It's not too far a drive for me. 

Finally, I only played blackjack a handful of times in 2014.  Lost $52 for the year.  I'm itchin' to play and I have some match play coupons so wish me luck!

Here is the breakdown for 2014.  Actually very similar to 2013.  Harness edged out thoroughbred again. Bet type was almost identical to 2013 (again, I cashed lots of small pick threes).  Woodbine Harness was number one in cashed winnings but was not a profitable track! Last year's number one track, The Meadows, slipped way down - they race almost strictly during the day now.  I cashed tickets at 23 different tracks. 

 Thoroughbred vs, Harness 

 Harness winnings       -       51%

Thoroughbred winnings   -   49%


By Track 

Woodbine Harness    -      17%

Presque Isle Downs   -      14%

Hoosier Park      -             13% 

Mohawk             -             12%

Saratoga           -              11%

Meadows         -                 7%

Gulfstream         -               5%

Woodbine Thoroughbred  -   4% 


By Bet Type 

 Pick Three   -   42%

Win     -            32%

Daily Double  -  11%

Exacta     -       11% 



Posted by pa/tune at 9:22 PM EST
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