04/03/2014 11:16AM

Change in NHC Tour points scoring rewards consistency


The role of luck in any one contest is always going to be dominant. But as we have seen in no uncertain terms these last few weeks, the better players will prevail over the long haul. That speaks to why this season’s changes in the way National Handicapping Championship Tour points are awarded is a good thing for consistent players. From afar, the tour might seem too complicated for the average player to grasp but it’s worth making an effort to understand the rules – even if you’re not necessarily trying to win the Tour but just looking to qualify for the NHC.

The Top 150 players on the Tour qualify for the NHC automatically. Some players assume they are at a disadvantage getting into the top 150 if they don’t play in every single event but this isn’t really how it works. Only your top five scores from the year are considered in coming up with your total Tour points. Of those scores, one must be a live event. But it’s conceivable one could finish in the top 150 even with only four scores from playing online.

In past years, it would have been difficult to focus on qualifying for the NHC only via NHCQualify and other online qualifying sites. The Tour points awarded were very top heavy, and you could finish fairly high up without accruing significant Tour points. This scoring system has changed this year for the better.

This year, assuming a full field, first place gets you 3,000 points but 10th place still gets you 2,190. It makes sense to have those numbers relatively close because more often than not, in a 350-player contest, the difference between first and 10th is more about luck than anything else – a 3-1 shot the winner has that the 10th finisher doesn’t or maybe the 10th place finisher’s longshot gets nosed for place while the winner’s gets up. The winner should get more points, but not dramatically more, and the new scoring system reflects this.

What this means is that if you can accumulate four top 10 scores (or even top 20 scores) there is a fighting chance you can qualify for the NHC on points alone. Your chances go way up if you’re willing to play in a few live events as well. It’s a system that rewards consistency, and is something to consider when you’re thinking about playing on NHC Qualify. And, of course, there is always the chance you will finish top five and qualify outright.

Saturday contest includes seven graded stakes

Speaking of NHCQualify, Saturday’s contest is a well-spaced out, stakes-studded affair. There are seven graded stakes in all, including the Wood Memorial, Bay Shore, and Carter from Aqueduct; the Ashland from Keeneland, and the Santa Anita Derby and Oaks. You can reserve your spot now at www.NHCQualify.com.

Here is a complete list:

4 p.m. Eastern  Santa Anita 3

4:17    Keeneland 7

4:35    Aqueduct 8

4:49    Keeneland 8

5:00    Santa Anita 5

5:22    Keeneland 9

5:40    Aqueduct 10

5:55    Keeneland 10

6:00    Santa Anita 7

6:14    Aqueduct 11

6:30    Santa Anita 8

7:00    Santa Anita 9

◗ If you haven’t yet signed up for the contest email series it’s not too late. You’ll receive an email a day for six days. The series offers a basic primer on contests and contest strategy largely derived from my book, The Winning Contest Player. But there are a few new wrinkles in there as well. You can sign up at: www.drf.com/tournament-education

◗ Here is an update on last weekend’s DRF Bets contest. As many of you know, there was a technology issue with the way the scoreboard was presenting the results – the contest was supposed to be decided by net winnings but the scoreboard was displaying the leaders by gross winnings, i.e., who made the most collections, inclusive of stakes. DRF Bets is doing the right thing and awarding prizes to both sets of leaders, gross and net. Follow this link for more information: http://www.drf.com/contest-results