12/29/2007 2:53PM



It took 363 days, but I think we finally have a winner in the always fierce and crowded competition for the most preposterous statement of the year by a gambling executive.

In an interesting piece about a team of blackjack card-counters in Saturday's New York Times, the president of Foxwoods casino justified their policy of banning card counters as follows:

“Our position is that card counters disrupt the fun and excitement of other people playing the game,” said John A. O’Brien, the president of Foxwoods.

Huh? Card-counters do nothing to "disrupt" the flow of a blackjack game. All they do is win 1 to 2 percent instead of lose at that rate, and this of course is why O'Brien does not want them in his casino. To claim he is protecting other players, as opposed to his own profit margins, is baloney.

In addition to banning card counters, casinos have been changing blackjack rules and payoffs in recent years to tilt the game further in the house's favor. Some casinos now permit you to double down only on 10 or 11 rather than on any two cards, eliminating such favorable bets as doubling a soft 17 against a dealer's 3, 4, 5 or 6, and some have reduced the payoff for a two-card 21 from the standard 3-to-2 to as low as 6-to-5.

--Brad Free posed a fascinating question in a recent DRF column about the new Super High Five wager at Santa Anita: Will the bet carry over more or less than the pick six?

He speculated that there would be fewer SHF than pick-six carryovers. His reasoning was that between having five rather than six slots to be filled in, and at a $1 rather than $2 minimum, the SHF would be hit more often and should carry over only once every two weeks. I respect his logic but would bet the other way. The SHF will usually be run on a large field of last-race maiden claimers where it seems like there's a better chance for chaos to rule all five slots than for there to be six chaotic win results in a pick-six sequence.

What do you think: More pick-six or more SHF carryovers at the 85-day Santa Anita meeting?

After two days, the tally is SHF-1, pick six-0. The opening-day SHF pool drew $54,653 in bets and was not hit, producing a $43, 350 carryover into Friday. That attracted another $150, 369 in Friday wagers, and a very chalky outcome (the favorite won with the 2nd, 4th and 5th choices in the combo underneath) yielded 22 winning $1 tickets at $7391.90 apiece. It was "only" an 11-horse field and it was a maiden-special on the grass rather than the usual maiden-claiming sprint.

--When Todd Pletcher sent Nite Light to Monmouth to run in a $35k maiden claimer in July, it's unlikely he imagined that the 3-year-old son of Thunder Gulch and Lite Light would be a multiple stakes-winner by year's end. But the son of a Belmont winner and a CCA Oaks winner has run to his long-winded pedigree, and Saturday completed a sweep of Aqueduct's two December marathons, adding the 13-furlong Gallant Fox Handicap to his victory in the 12-furlong Coyote Lakes Handicap 24 days earlier. Both races ended with the the identical 1-2-3 finish, with Nite Light leading the field into the stretch and holding off the the Gary Contessa-trained duo of Successful Affair and Malibu Moonshine.

In the Coyote Lakes, the Contessa entry was 1.35-1 and Nite Light paid $10.80. In the Gallant Fox, the entry was 4-5 and Nite Light paid $8,80. Now instead of being sold to Turkey or Korea as a stallion prospect, maybe Nite Light will stay in training and be pointed for races like the extended (from 9 to 12 furlongs) Brooklyn Handicap the day before the Belmont Stakes and the new Breeders' Cup Marathon next October.

p ensign More than 1 year ago
sh5 much easier to hit than p6 - smaller investment needed, much lower possible combinations (law of diminishing posibilities in one race as compared to multiple races) AND there are masters at placing dying speed horses and plodding closers for 2nd and 3rd/4th who will love having a carryover to go with their high priced, consistent losers! todays sh5 was nauseatingly easy - mullins on top of a logical second place horse- add some firsters for third - toss in the entry for fourth - all button fifth and voila - (don't get me started on how i missed the freakin thing) TWENTY THREE THOUSAND BUCKS! and, for Jim Brown, the $472 grand super was for $2 making the dime payoff to one lucky/talented customer $23 grand. (guessing this player may have already hit the sh5...)
Jim Brown More than 1 year ago
I had a question about the third race at Aqueduct. I noticed that there was 32,768 in the super pool. The payoff listed the super paying 427,000 and change. Even if there was one .10 winner that would be 42,000 can you explain how this works.
jrzingg More than 1 year ago
about the High5...can't bet races when the jockeys stop trying after the first 2 horses cross the finish line!!!!
ez_goer More than 1 year ago
This may be a little off topic, but I posted it here because most people read the latest posts only. A few weeks ago Steve mentioned that automated programs to generate pick six bets were of limited use because you still have to enter the bets manually. He stated that what would really be useful would be a suite of tools that integrated with a betting platform. I agree with this and have long wondered why no software platform exists similar to stock programs that generate strategies but also enter trades. I think it would be cool to have a program that could automatically bet a horse with one minute to post if his odds are above 8-1. How about being able to see your probable return on a complicated trifecta play before you bet it. I know Betfair in England has a software development kit for programmers that allows them to develop applications, but I am unaware of any in US. At the most rudimentary level even to have a text box where you can type a string like '1,2,4 with 3,7,8 with 3' and a process button which translates that to a Pick 3 sequence would be a start. If something like that existed you could create a program that allows an exotic bettor to cut and past the output, saving them a lot of time. I guess my question is if there is a Account service in the US where the latter exists? As a programmer it intrigues me because it wouldn't be difficult to write something that would be useful to a lot of exotic players. In any case I would think that an account provider at some point would examine this because Pick 6 players are a high end client and if I can save them fifteen minutes of typing in bets, my guess is I would get a number of players to switch providers. Anyways just a thought. Speaking of Blackjack, the book Fortune's Formula tracks the evolution of Beat The Dealer author Ed Thorp as well as gives a detailed study of the Kelly criterion betting methodology.
EJS More than 1 year ago
oops: 3x2x1x3x2=$36
Kyle More than 1 year ago
Hi Steve, Just a quick question. Is there any reason you can't sell The Form by the race as well as the card online? I would like to be able to get say just grass races or all the stakes or a certain pic 4. Any consideration ever given to that? Thanks.
EJS More than 1 year ago
Another strategy for betting the pick five is to look at it as a set of connected trifectas. You box three horses in the first three positions, and three, or four, or more in the next three positions. Such a bet 3x2x1x3x2 would cost $32. A 3x2x1x4x3 raising it to $72.00. Again, there is the matter of taking a stand (but the one dollar three horse tri box is already a betting staple.) For those predisposed to this sort of wager the High Five might not be all that intimidating. Which might also explain what seems to be the rather robust non-carryover handles. I figured the pool would start off slowly and after three or four days of not being hit get manic, but if the $95,000 bet yesterday is any indication people aren't going to be waiting for carryovers. The more combinations covered, of course, the less likelihood of a carryover. Still, one would like to see what kind of handle this bet would draw if not hit for a series of days. But I do think one thing is clear: this bet is not as prohibitively expensive to particiapte in as it seemed upon first glance. Boxing five, or six, or seven horses is not the recommended strategy. Rather, this is a bet that should be loved by those who love constructing tickets, because it's a bet where a little skill, a little guts, a little luck, and a fairly little investment can, in theory, net a very large return. Seventy-two dollars, spent by a skilled handicapper, speaking with much more authority in a High Five than in a pick six.
arazi More than 1 year ago
It's pretty devastating to know that Patrick Valenzuala's license has been revoked and we may never see him ride again. He had always been one of my favorite jockeys and his greatness was surely engraved before he started making bad personal choices. It will be one of those things in horse racing where one would always wonder how much of greatness we didn't get to see? My heart goes out to P. Val. and I hope he canstart up a new career and be successful.
arazi More than 1 year ago
Mr. Bred Free's analogy to compare Pick-6 with HPF is much like comparing apples with oranges. First, the Pick-6 is about picking the winners and not the order of finish. You can single out a horse in any number of races but can you single out a horse to finish 3rd, 4th, or 5th? While it is practical to single out a horse as a winner, there is no way anyone can do the same with other placings.
george quinn More than 1 year ago
I would not let Pat Valenzuela walk my golden retriever