My ROI for all pari-mutuel horse racing wagers in 2016 was -1.81%, an improvement from the 7.54 cents on the dollar I lost in 2015, and gigantic strides from 2013-2014 when my ROI over those two years was a heinous -21.49% (My ROI 2015-2016 is -3.84%).
My handle increased 81.9% versus 2015 and is a third more than my previous record year of 2012 (when my ROI was -5.76%). I wagered on 243 days, up 8.5% from the previous year.
There are three ways to spin these results.
- On a personal curve they were great. This was my best year since 2010 when I began keeping detailed records.
- On a horseplayer curve they were good. I beat takeout and likely outperformed 95% of other horseplayers with comparable handle.
- On a bottom line curve they were disappointing. My goal was to “beat the game”, and I didn’t.
The biggest tweak I made to my approach this year was on bankroll management. Willy-nilly moving money between checking, savings, and my TwinSpires.com accounts is fine for a recreational approach when you need to fund your account because you want action, but it is not the proper approach for expecting to extract the most value from wagers.
At a 30,000-foot level anyone serious about horseplaying has to have working capital that is separate from anything else. It helps avoid that “I hope I break even; I need the money” approach to betting on horses.
It also helps put the feasibility of playing certain wagers into perspective. I sunk ~5% of my handle into Pick 6 bets last year, and my ROI was -80%. Of all the bet types that represented at least 2% of my handle, this was BY FAR the worst (-17% on Pick 3s being next).
Interesting enough, my best bet was the Pick 5 with an +84% ROI on ~7% of my action. On one hand, if you can pick 5 you can pick 6 but on the other, am I allocating my capital correctly when I play Pick 6s? Too often we think “my budget is ‘X’” and we shoehorn the bet to fit that budget, but if the budget don’t fit then you must acquit.
More on that -17% Pick 3 ROI. A big focus in 2017 will be less use of the “ALL” button. A lot of losing bets involved keying on a couple “A” picks and going “ALL” in the other leg. I’m fine with the “ALL” as an expression of opinion but not as a punt. I’d likely be better off playing all As multiple times. Of course I’d cash fewer tickets, but long-term expect more positive results.