The public handicapper is a fixture at live racetracks and also at many racebooks. This individual can be found giving out picks for each race. With such good help, you can’t help but be a winner! Think again. There are a few things you should know about public handicappers before you start betting horses online.
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What is a Public Handicapper?
Tracks and racebooks like to engage the betting public. Engagement means that more money is being passed through the betting windows and more revenue is being generated. To help the first-time horse bettor or even the seasoned gambler, a public handicapper is used to give out free picks for each race.
This individual can sometimes, but not always, also be the track handicapper. The two jobs are not to be confused, however. The track handicapper is the person responsible for creating the Morning Line for each horse competing on a certain day. The Morning Line represents what the track handicapper believes the odds of that horse should be at race time. It is his or her opinion. Nothing more and nothing less. Most oddsmakers use a complex formula to set the Morning Line so that they are consistent from day to day, and those posted odds are usually very different from what the odds will be when the horses race.
The public handicapper doesn’t make odds or a Morning Line. They make picks. There is a big difference. Whereas the oddsmaker typically sticks to a strict routine and tries to assign low odds to the most talented horses, the public handicapper is only required to offer their opinion. The motivations behind these picks may be very different from person to person.
How Handicapping Picks are Made
The handicapper makes their picks and then delivers them through a sheet, webpage, or broadcast. These are almost always offered for free to entice people at the track to bet. But, as mentioned above, the person making the picks has a lot of freedom. Some of these people don’t try to vary too far from the norm, but others can go heavily against the grain.
Ron Nicoletti has long been a public handicapper for race tracks based in Florida. Nicoletti knows more about horse racing that most people ever will. His analysis of a race can be thoughtful and helpful, but when it comes to his picks caution is advised. Nicoletti likes to pick longshots and swing for the fences. In other words, he is handing out picks based on value and not necessarily on what will probably happen.
For example, let’s say the favorite in a race is at even money odds and is legitimate. The chances look very good that this horse is just as talented as expected and will win. Nicoletti will often exclude such a horse from his picks and try to “beat” the favorite with a longer priced horse. The payoff is better, but the risk is greater. Sometimes the longshots come through. Sometimes they do not.
Others who do this for a living stick to picking more of the horses which will likely be favorites. This means that on average their picks will win one out of every three races. As you can see, depending on either type for your online horse racing picks will most often lead to disappointment.
Public Handicapper Advantages
There are some advantages to depending on a person who picks horses for a living. Chief among these is that you don’t have to devote the time required for choosing your own winning horses. If you are just wanting to enjoy a day of light betting and watching the races, this is perfectly fine.
Another advantage is that these picks are offered for free. You will save money by not having to buy the Daily Racing Form and other handicapping materials. Again, this is acceptable for the occasional horse bettor.
Public Handicapper Disadvantages
The person giving away free picks for a race track or racebook’s patrons cannot be selective. They must handicap every race on every card and do it everyday. Contrast this with the experience of making your own choices. You can focus on just a few races you think are good betting events instead of the entire card.
The opinion you receive isn’t necessarily better than your own. If you have put in the work and chose a horse after studying the past performances, good for you. Your hard work could pay off in the form of a winning ticket.
Finally, blindly following the advice of a public handicapper could encourage you to bet more often than you should. Just because there are ten races on a single card doesn’t mean you have to bet them all. You can choose to bet on one, three, or none of them. It is far better to bet only when you have a strong opinion.
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