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Horse Race Betting Online - I Walk The Line

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 7/11/2011 7:21:17 PM
horse race betting online

Johnny Cash’s Number One Billboard hit ‘I Walk the Line’ was about him laying out his pledge of devotion as a newly-married man, but for those online horseracing fans that enjoy betting on the equine set that go 40 miles an hour, getting a handle on the morning line is a concept that can improve results and pay big dividends.

When I was the West Coast linemaker for the Daily Racing Form for over 20 years, I had to set lines quickly and as accurately as possible.
A full card at a major track like Santa Anita would take me about 40 minutes and that is with a line and with comments on every single horse.
For the lesser tracks, I had to condense my thinking much faster since on some days I was required to set a line on as many as 17 or 18 tracks on the busiest of days.

The nuts and bolts of setting a line start with the odds percentage table in the American Racing Manual. The win odds reflect the percentage of money bet on a horse in relation to the total in the pool.

Hence, if 20% of all money in the pool were bet on one horse, that horse would be listed at 4-1 on the line.

A horse that takes half the money would be even money on the line and a 20-1 shot would get a bit over 4% of the pool.

Each odds is set a number. A 2-1 shot would get 33 points. A 10-1 shot would get 9 points etc.

To make the line balance, which is mandatory, the line maker would have all the horses in the race add up to 100, plus another 22 or so for takeout.

Setting a line and handicapping are two different things. When setting a line I would attempt to figure out how the public would bet and at what price the horses will be when they spring the gates.

When handicapping, bettors can take a totally different view and search for angles, certain potent connections, maybe biases or whatever – all in hopes of trying to find the best online betting value in the race.

After eliminating the runners that I knew were not going to get any action because they either had performed poorly or had low-profile connections, my next task was to visualize how the race would set up and who would be the front runners, the stalkers and the deep closers.

When I had it in my mind how the race may unfold, the pieces would start to fall together as far as how heavy a favorite would be or if the race was wide open.

For years, and probably now too if I was setting lines daily, a flaw would emerge and that would be I would generally have the second choice too low and too close to the favorite.

No matter how conscience I was of this fact, it always seemed to play out that my second choices paid big numbers.

Players who bet horses should know that setting a line is a learned trait that the serious and casual bettor should try to take a shot at for a couple of important reasons.

First, it can pinpoint runners that in one’s own mind should be getting played and perhaps are not getting action on the board and secondly, it can be a good piece of discipline as to how one goes about his or her business.

As one gets more comfortable setting a line, he can also make intelligent decisions about track line makers and if they do a good job or a bad job and just like any line of endeavor, it goes both ways.

For years, Jeff Tufts was the line maker at Santa Anita and Del Mar and also a clocker and that morning job watching workouts helped him become of the best, if not the best, in the game.

When he retired, Jon White, a steward, trackman, handicapper and friend took over for Tufts and continues to put in the time to make him excellent at his craft.

Like me, New Jersey native Russ Hudak sets the prices at Hollywood Park and like Tufts, gets an edge with his work as a clocker, which is evident with his solid prices day in and day out.

Online horse betting players could do much worse than match their numbers against their local line makers at the track. The truth will set you free.

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