Why HorseTourneys Doesn’t Mind Losing Money Occasionally


Like most contest sites, HorseTourneys runs plenty of contests that require a minimum number of participants for the contest to “go”. And others where the number of prizes (i.e. contest seats) is determined by the number of entries.

We are also, however, firm believers in guaranteed contests — and not just ones where we are certain we will reach our desired participation targets.

Last Saturday, for example, we hosted two guaranteed cash games that ran as overlays for the players:


Our $2,000 guaranteed exacta box contest attracted 38 of a hoped-for 53 entries at $42 each. So we took in $1,596 and paid out $2,000. Players were getting a positive-expectation scenario of more than 25%.

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Meanwhile, our $50,000 guaranteed event attracted an even 100 players at an entry fee of $495, so we lost $500 in this tournament. The overlay to players was much smaller than in the exacta box tourney, but it was an overlay nonetheless, and there were still hard-dollar losses on our end.  Factoring in the fees that HorseTourneys pays on player deposits, the losses are even greater.

For loyal fans of HorseTourneys (or relatives of HT employees), fear not — we have not lost our minds, and we are not foolishly going broke.

First off, keep in mind that we do make a little bit of money in the feeder tournaments that lead in to virtually all of the major events. So any losses we suffer on the big day are mitigated somewhat thanks to those feeders.

But even when we come up short (and we did come up short…twice!…on Saturday), we still firmly believe that there are long-term benefits that accrue from these short-term losses.

Many of our players are extremely price conscious, and we think that is great. We want those players playing at HorseTourneys. They tend to be sharp, successful players in it for the long haul. So we strive to make sure our players can delve into our extensive menu on a given day and pick out not just their favorite format or track, but also zero in on contests that they feel offer optimal value.

In fact, we feel so strongly about this that we don’t just place guarantees on small-money tournaments, we’ll stick our neck out and guarantee the purse even on our richest contests — as Saturday’s $50,000 game will attest. (And, yes, we have a LOT more to lose when we guarantee a $50,000 game compared to a $1,000 or $2,000 game).

Value aside, we also think it’s important for players to know that certain key contests will take place (and pay full prizes) regardless of participation levels. As contest players ourselves, we are well aware of the preparation that you put in before the first race of a contest takes place. When I played baseball, I hated getting rained out almost as much as losing. So much buildup and anticipation goes right out the window. We think the feeling is comparable when the plug gets pulled on a contest at the 11th hour.

Ultimately, we feel that if our website, our contests, our formats, our takeout levels, etc. make players happy, more players will play with us and our tournaments will only get bigger and better. (Maybe, to take one of Saturday’s examples, we will really grow the popularity of our exacta box tournaments.)  Guaranteed contests are an important part of all that.

So while we certainly aren’t jumping for joy when we take one or two on the chin, we do feel that we can shake it off a little more easily…a little more readily…than perhaps some others can.

Do you have any suggestions for future guarantees? Or for other ways that we can improve? Leave a comment below and let us know. Your opinions are important to us.