Six years later I have a spreadsheet full of my wagering data, and it’s become so a part of my gambling experience (there’s also a poker tab) that inputting the day’s action—whether it’s horses or cards—is as much a part of the experience as tweeting picks or complaining about bad rides.
The good news is I truly feel as if it’s improved my play. It can be easy to sugarcoat losses. Yes, horseplayers have a way of remembering only the DQ that cost us or how we only get scratched onto the post time favorite when we hate it, but when it comes to whether we’re winning, the losses have a way of not adding up.
“Well, I lost today, but I’m still ahead from my nice score last week,” is a common refrain except more often than not that “nice score” wasn’t all that nice and really paid for the previous week’s losses, not upcoming ones.
I say that more about myself than disparagingly about any of my horseplayer brethren, and because it’s so personal is how I know recordkeeping is a must. Confronting your wins and losses not only results in better play overall but also better bankroll management.
And confronting both the wins and the losses is important, and in order to do that careful review of wagering needs to be a part of your handicapping process.
We can debate the bounce theory when it comes to horses until we’re blue in the face, but whether you call it a bounce or a regression to the mean, it absolutely happens with my horse playing, and the record keeping is helping me address it.
If I win $100 one day, I want to win $1,000 the next, and if I win $1,000 then I want to win $10,000. It’s not a smart way to play. My bankroll (and the money I’m able to infuse it with) is linear, and upping the ante after a winning day is a recipe for disaster (and disaster is a cake I’ve baked one too many times the past six years).
But like I said, I have gotten better. My ROI in the day and week following a day or week I’ve doubled my money betting improved last year.
I’m not saying I need a week off after a big effort, but betting more just because I’m ahead short term is not smart, and seeing it in black and white every day I play really drives the message home.
That brings us to 2016. My New Year’s resolution this year is to take that next step and review my wagers daily, weekly, and monthly. What’s working, what isn’t? And just as important: having the discipline to follow through on what I learn from this exercise. E.g. noticing that my worst-ROI month the past five years is consistently November but still coming out guns blazing post Breeders’ Cup like something has changed.
And that’s the thing, it’s an adaptive game. Why is November poor? I’m not going to stop playing completely so how do I improve? Is it Breeders’ Cup burn out? Are my results similar following Derby/Triple Crown/summer racing? There are lots of ways to interact with our own past performances to make future ones better.