Jason Beem's Thursday Column for March 23, 2023

March 23rd, 2023

A good Thursday morning to you all! Welcome to the final installment of our little series here on the Thursday column called "The Six Secrets of Unsuccessful Bettors." It’s been a lot of fun to do, and I realize today that I probably could do another six installments on this topic, so we might just continue it in a couple of weeks. I've gotten good feedback, but really my goal is to just facilitate conversation and hopefully get us all thinking.

Today’s topic is about chasing, as I think chasing is something many unsuccessful bettors do. I think back to the Jason of the early-, mid-, and late 2000s, and I was a total chaser. I think there is a subsection of bettors who are action gamblers. Of course they want to win, but really it’s much more about being in the game than it is winning or losing. Many folks in this subsection find themselves chasing.

So what do I mean by chasing? Chasing is kind of as it sounds — generally, it’s someone who is chasing losses. You’re down for the day (or week, month, year, etc.) so you start betting more often to try to recoup those losses.

Now, of course, we all want to recoup our losses, and every long-term winning player eventually does that through good bets and winning. But chasers don’t make good bets. Often when chasing, people will increase their wager amount and often bet on tracks or races they don’t know about or haven’t handicapped. It just happens to be the next race coming up and the next opportunity to fire.

Here's an example of chasing. Let’s say I’m a $10 win bettor. I’ve been betting on Track A all day long, and I am just not hitting anything. The seventh race comes about and I get beat by a dirty nose. I think the healthy reaction to that situation is to maybe yell or throw your ticket down, or something like that.

But chasers will generally get very upset, but immediately start looking to try to recoup. So the $10 bettor might be down $70 for the day and start getting into the mind frame of “I gotta get back to even or gotta get up.”

So what do they do? Find the next race going and bet a higher amount than their standard wager to try to recoup. Now, increasing your bet size under the right circumstances is all fine and dandy. But chasers are usually increasing that amount and wagering on a race they have barely handicapped. Doesn’t seem very good sense to risk seven times your normal bet amount on the race you haven’t looked at, while you’ve been betting $10 on the ones you really know and had opinions in.

More often than not, chasing losses just leads to much greater losses. That, of course, leads to negativity and putting yourself in an even more troublesome state of mind, and then the cycle of bad decision-making just keeps turning.

Sometimes, of course, it works. Sometimes that $70 chase win bet will hit and you’re back up for the day. Yay, right? Well in the short term, yes it’s a yay.

But I think chasing is similar to many other bad habits we do in that sometimes it does indeed work for us. We get bailed out. But that often will reinforce the habit and eventually lead us to more losing and chasing. Our brains will think, “Well, last week I was down a hundred and made a big win bet and got back even.” So we try it again. But, of course, not every bet will win. Then we’re really stuck. Now if you go on and hit the lottery, OK, maybe you got bailed out enough to where you’re going to always be a long-term winner. However, most of us at the track aren’t going to be that lucky.

I think the best horseplayers I know have a great skill to accept and move on quickly and well from losses and tough beats. They treat each bet like the individual bet it is. And if they do take a sick beat and it gets them down, they step away for a bit and don’t come back into the fight until they’re ready and in a good frame of mind.

I used to always gauge my results by the day. If I lost $200 the day before, it didn’t matter and I was back to even in my mind. But when I was down during the day, chasing and/or getting even used to become my entire mindset. More often than not, it led to just being down more. I think most chasers are not putting in well-thought-out and well-constructed tickets. Rather, they’re just hoping to get lucky and hit, and usually are betting tickets that are terrible long-term EV.

Thanks again, everyone, for reading this segment of posts, and like I said, I think we’ll continue on with it very soon with some more topics.