09/15/2015 9:51AM

Fornatale: Larmey uses multi-tabling to the max

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Multi-tabling -- the practice of playing more than one contest at once -- makes sense on a lot of levels. For one thing, the hardest work that goes into playing in any contest is handicapping the races themselves and coming up with an idea of which horse or horses you might want to play in a given spot. Once you've done that work, why not maximize the return on your investment but playing in multiple contests?

Three years ago, when I started working on The Winning Contest Player, the concept of multi-tabling handicapping tournaments was relatively new, but these days it's commonplace. Go to any major weekend tournament and you'll see most of the best players also playing along online at websites like NHCQualify.com and BCQualify.com.

In the Daily Racing Form family of tournaments, we typically use the same sequence of races for multiple contests. This is the best-case scenario for the multi-tabler -- all the work you do is relevant in both events. Occasionally, a contest like the free NTRA National Handicapping Championship qualifier will have 10 races instead of 12 with a couple of different races. But the preparation for the two events remains largely the same.

There are a variety of ways to approach multitabling. The simplest way is to play the same horses on each ticket throughout both contests. Other players will look to use different horses in the two events to increase the chance of backing a longshot winner. Chris Larmey, who won outright last weekend on both DRFQualify.com and BCQualify.com, combines the two ideas, "If there's a horse that's real value I'll play it on both," he said. "If I have two entries that are in contention, I may split them up across two contests, the same way I would do if I had two entries in the same contest."

Your individual goal in a given contest can change the horses it makes sense to play. For example, last weekend, Larmey had to finish in the top 10 percent to advance to Round Two on BCQualify.com, but he had to finish in the top two to win his $3,000 Gulfstream Park seat on DRFQualify.com. "That definitely does make some difference," Larmey explained, "not so much early on in a sequence, but later on it can make a big difference. If I fall behind in a contest where I only have to finsih in the top 10 percent, I probably don't have to start reaching for longshots as early as I would in a contest where the only prize is for winning."

On Saturday, the key horse for Larmey was 15-1 shot Conquest Daddyo. After his win in the Summer Stakes, two-thirds of the way through the contest, Larmey changed up how he was playing his two entries, "I thought I was certain to get in the top 10 percent on BCQualify so I decided to play longshots in that contest since that's the only way I could get hurt."

On DRFQ, Larmey could be less aggressive -- he could continue to play shorter prices. But price alone is still not the most critical factor when deciding which horse to play as you manage two entries. "You still have to play the horses you like," said Larmey. "In the Sands Point at Belmont I really liked Blond Me. She was the overlooked horse of the Euros, but it looked like her form was improving, she was the only one getting Lasix, and she was 20-1. So I played her on both and I picked up more points than the people who played the short-priced winner."

The best thing about multi-tabling is that when you have a good day, you have a really good day. It's not uncommon to see a player score a Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge seat or an NHC seat, along with thousands of dollars in cash when things are clicking. For Larmey, as a result of his big day on Saturday, he's taken a big step toward a BCBC seat, and he looms as one of the players to beat in next weekend's Gulfstream contest. And you can bet that while he's down in Florida he'll be looking to score on BCQualify.com and DRFQualify.com once again.