All You Need is a Horse and a Hope

Last weekend’s action at HorseTourneys reminded me of a couple of old slogans — both of them gambling related.

At one time, the New York State Lottery used the line “All you need is a dollar and a dream” to promote its Lotto game (to those receptive to the concept that 50% takeout was a fair gambling deal). The idea was it only took one dollar to have a shot at untold riches.

The poker world has its own (less predatory) saw to convey the notion that as long as you are in it, you can still win it: “All you need is a chip and a chair.”

Last Thursday, Michael Bailey showed that similar optimism has its place in online handicapping contests too. He “won” a Pick & Pray feeder despite only getting three of his allotted eight selections in.

On Sunday night, Rob Henie did Michael Bailey one better. (Some might say two better — or, depending on your point of view — two worse).

I suppose you could say that Henie managed to get lucky mainly because he had just one person to beat, and he caught that one person on a bad day.

Just two days earlier, though, a player — who I won’t “out” — managed to submit just one pick in the NTRA’s free 15-race qualifier at HorsePlayers. The horse won as a cap horse and paid the maximum $64.00 to win and place.

This story didn’t have a happy ending like Bailey’s and Henie’s  did, though. The score cutoff for advancing to Day 2 of the 2,075-player tournament was $65.40. But I can’t believe this player almost pulled it off. Can you imagine a more unlikely scenario than finishing in the top 10% of a 2,075-player contest when your opponents have 15 times more picks than you do?

My personal takeaway from all this?  I think we’ve all experienced feelings of hopelessness during tournament play. We were torn between two horses and opted for the wrong one…  we were so far behind…there weren’t enough races left, etc. etc.

At the same time, our minds often have a way of exaggerating our doom .

Last weekend offered not one, not two, but three different examples of players overcoming — or nearly overcoming — what seemed like an incredibly stacked deck. So the next time, you find yourselves getting down about your chances…

…maybe give this past weekend a thought.

My other takeaway from last weekend is that it’s always a good idea to double-check the format and closing time of your tourneys…but that’s a different blog.