02/03/2014 11:35AM

Last year's tournament season a big success, now on to 2014

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Okay, now I get it. When I was doing the research for my book, I didn’t quite understand the obsession many contest players have for the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas. I would point out that certain contests have lower takeout or better racing – or both. And they would assure me, “Just wait until you got out there, and you’re in that room. Then you’ll understand.”

Having now been to my first NHC, I can tell you they're right. It’s the only contest of any kind that I can think of where merely competing is a prize in itself. The upside of this is a great atmosphere and a tremendous sense of camaraderie. And if I were eligible to compete (as DRF contest editor I am not), I would vow to try to get back there every year.

Personally, I really enjoyed meeting so many of you. It was gratifying to know that you’re reading and enjoying the new and expanded DRF coverage of tournaments. It was also super fun this year being part of the Daily Racing Form coverage of the NHC across various media. I’ve received lots of feedback about how we can improve – and we’re on it. And yes, we’ll start with getting a microphone that works.

Another fun part of the experience for me was interviewing Jose Arias, Tony Brice, and Nick Alpino – the 1-2-3 finishers in the NHC and three players who are easy to root for and exemplify what the game is all about. These are three guys who deserve their life-changing paydays.

As for the event itself, it seems obvious to me that the Final Table concept is an idea that’s here to stay. There are a few kinks to work out for sure, but kudos to the NTRA and the Player’s Panel for taking a chance and implementing this radical change. It’s my opinion that this will be the leap that allows handicapping contests to be a truly viable television product at some point in the future. That will hopefully lead to more sponsorship dollars and, eventually, the ultimate goal – an NHC Finals where more money goes back out to the players than comes in from the players.

Looking forward to the new season, there should be a lot of good things happening in the contest world. There have never been more opportunities to learn how to play in contests online. There are also a lot of exciting in-person contests to participate in as well. The first one that comes to mind is the Horse Player World Series at the Orleans in Las Vegas at the end of March.

And, for me, I look forward to meeting a whole bunch more of you in person at various signings for my new book, "The Winning Contest Player." We don’t have a schedule yet, but check back in this space for frequent updates.
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COMING UP AT NHCQualify.com

February  8:

ONE-DAY (max 325 entries - max 5 spots awarded, $165/entry)

February 15:

ONE-DAY (max 325 entries - max 5 spots awarded, $165/entry)

February 23 (SUNDAY):

ONE-DAY (max 325 entries - max 5 spots awarded, $165/entry)

 

COMING UP AT BCQualify.com

February 9 (SUNDAY):

(ONE DAY - 280 max entries - max 4 spots awarded), $190/entry

February 22:

(ONE DAY - 280 max entries - max 4 spots awarded), $190/entry