09/08/2017 3:10PM

Bowley's in heaven playing from home

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Barbara Bowley is not your average contest player.

For one thing, she prefers to play from home as opposed to traveling to live events. That’s at the top of the list of reasons why she’s so excited to have just won her $5,000 buy-in to the $1 million, no-takeout World Championship of Handicapping. Bowley finished second in a Grade 1 WCH qualifier at tournaments.drf.com.

“I’m just thrilled, not for me but for all the people who can’t pick up and go away for three days because of work or family responsibilities,” she said. “This levels the playing field for so many people, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more women who might find this opportunity appealing since most women do at least part-time work as well as take care of a home.”

After Bowley retired, she spent time travelling to play in many tournaments, and while she generally enjoyed her experience, there were distractions. One came during a trip to Las Vegas as she was walking into a ballroom with Anthony Trezza, a friend and partner in the fan-education site The Tournament Edge.

“Someone said, ‘Hello, Dr. Trezza. . . . Oh, and I see you brought a cheerleader.’”

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Bowley, a successful player on her own, particularly in online cash play, was of course no cheerleader. “I immediately thought to myself, ‘That doesn’t happen online.’ Online you’re judged by your efforts, not your gender.”

Insults aside, Bowley simply prefers to play from home. “The idea of staying home for a million dollars is great,” she said. “It allows you to stay in your element and play in the same place you do most of your contest play and ADW wagering anyway. You’re more comfortable and less distracted. The more control you have over your environment the better you’re going to do when it comes to the mental challenge of playing in a handicapping contest.”

Bowley got involved in contests via an unusual source. One day a few years back she was watching HRTV. “There were having a contest where you had to pick the trifecta in the Gulfstream Park Handicap,” she said. “The prize was coffee and I’m really competitive and like to win at all sorts of games, so I decided to play.”

Bowley, a huge Mucho Macho Man fan, nailed the tri cold. “All of sudden I heard them announcing my name on TV,” she said, “and the coffee was excellent.”

Over the next few weeks she started searching online for horse racing contests, and a new tournament player was created. From there, she decided to do some homework. “I read ‘The Winning Contest Player,’ which was helpful, and I also started shadowing the best players online,” she said, referring to the practice of looking at which horses other players choose in a contest (a feature available at DRF Tournaments).

“I noticed very quickly that the top players would take chances that I was unable or unwilling to take early on,” she said. “Back then I picked the horse that I thought had the best chance to win every time, and that wasn’t the way to win. Over time I learned to go from finding winners to finding value.”

Her advice to newer players includes seeking out a mentor, whether someone in real life or via a website like The Tournament Edge. As she explained, “If you can get a top player to talk to you, even for an hour, your game will get exponentially better.”

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