01/25/2017 5:26PM

Shurman offers his NHC competitors some advice


Paul Shurman is rumored to be on the short-list for NHC Hall of Fame consideration for good reason. He’s a former tour champion who has qualified for the event 15 times and finished in the top 10 three times. He has a few pieces of advice for first-time NHC players.

For many players, it’s a difficult question as to whether to play in Thursday’s Last Chance event at Treasure Island to seek a second entry. Many will be consumed by their handicapping for the big show. Shurman suggests an additional reason to consider participating. “Even though it takes away some handicapping time, it might be worthwhile to play in it just to get used to the room, the machines, and the experience.”

Speaking of the machines, Shurman has noticed some quirks that first-year players will want to be aware of.

“When you  place your wager, make sure you hit the correct box on the screen. Very often players hit the mandatory race button for the track they are playing when they just mean to play the next race at that particular track. Not only do you miss out on that particular bet, but when you eventually have to play that mandatory race the machine tells you it has been played already. This causes all sorts of confusion and scrambling to try to cancel the incorrect bet and make the intended one.”

Shurman is known for his handicapping prowess but he’s also known for his strong preparation and his ability to stay organized throughout contests. This is especially important during the NHC, where there will be 14 contest races going off in a single hour on Saturday, between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Eastern on Saturday (“I don’t think we really needed Laurel,” Shurman quipped.). Shurman has very specific ideas about how to keep things straight.

“Keep your betting tickets all together and in separate stacks if you are playing more than one entry.  Most players just throw their tickets on the table after they have made their plays. There will certainly be at least one point in time during the contest where you will need to go through all your plays to make sure you have made all the plays and the correct plays and you don't want to have to look all over your table and the floor to find your tickets. Also, I usually mark my tickets with an ‘O’ or an ‘M’ to signify whether they were optional or mandatory plays.”

First-year players looking for additional advice should check out my annual advice piece at http://www.drf.com/news/useful-advice-first-year-players-national-handicapping-championship.