10/05/2016 10:06AM

Kinchen uses match-up means to BCBC end


Match-up contests recently debuted on the DRF Tournaments site and they are gaining in popularity by the week. Last year’s National Handicapping Championship Tour winner Jonathon Kinchen has been active in the match-ups as he seeks to qualify for a Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge seat. His angle is to use the match-ups to essentially pay for his berth into the BCBC.

Here’s how the plan works. On a weekday, he will play in a match-up contest with a similar buy-in to a BCBC feeder. In the feeder, he needs to finish in the top 10 percent to advance to the weekend qualifier. If he executes his strategy properly, he’ll will have between one and three shots to finish in the top four in the qualifier and win his $10,000 seat that way without risking even the buy-in of the qualifier.

“The idea is that I believe in myself enough that while I might not be as good enough on the day to finish in the top 10 percent of the feeder, the chances of my being better than one other person that day are significant,” Kinchen said. “If I can get one to three entries into that qualifier on a free roll, I like my chances of winning in to the BCBC.”

The ideal scenario is he wins both the match-up and the feeder. “Then it’s like I’m getting paid to play,” he explained.

The most common scenario is that he’ll win the match-up and lose the feeder. “In that case, at least it didn’t cost me anything to try to set out on a path that could have led to a significant prize,” he said.

And what of those days where he loses both? “Well, those are just bad days at the office,” he continued. “Some days your opinion is such that you were going to lose no matter how you chose to participate, but the positives outweigh the negatives for me with this plan of attack for sure.”

As for strategy, Kinchen also prefers the match-up events, all of which to this point have utilized the all-in format, where all picks must be in before the scheduled post-time of the first contest race.

“With match-ups versus the typical all-in format the strategy changes but not terribly,” he said. “I’m a huge believer that in tournaments you should play who you like but that’s not always possible in a big field.”

If a tournament features 50 entries there may be times when you love a 9-5 shot but the right move is to reach a little bit for the 7-1 in there who should be 7-2. Playing the 9-5 in that example may not be giving yourself your best chance to win against such a big field.

“But in a match-up I’ll play that 9-5 every time and take my chances,” Kinchen said. “In a match-up, points are points and I’ll always take that.”

Furthermore, he finds match-ups less frustrating. “In a 100-entry event, if some unhaveable bomb runs, someone’s going to have it, probably several people,” he said. “In a match-up, three bombs can come in and very often your opponent won’t even have one of them. Match-ups provide a way to avoid getting beaten by ridiculous horses.”

Of course, match-ups can provide some frustrations of your own. “You’ll lose a match-up more often because you took the good value 7-1 shot and your opponent took the overbet 3-5 that won by the length of the stretch.”

But all in all, he finds the skill-to-luck ratio more favorable. “Match-up contests, especially, all-in match ups, are very pure,” he concluded. “It’s very hard to get lucky and win a match-up.”