Betting Strategy: Prolonged streaks are a fact of life for horse racing

Profile Picture: Kevin Kilroy

June 5th, 2022

In honor of this week’s kickoff to the second season of “HorsePlayers Happy Hour Tour” hosted by In the Money Media (ITMM), I caught up with a top 10 finisher from last year, Andrew Yeretsky. Hosted by the tournament site, weekly tournaments are held on Thursdays and awarding tour points and chances to win $10,000 seats to the Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge. It didn’t take Yeretsky--known as Dice in his circle of friends--much time to begin having success betting horses. A patent attorney who has had solid runs as a poker tournament player, day-trader, and sports bettor, Dice has been able to translate a few of his skills from these areas to playing tournaments and cashing Pick 5s. You can find him on Twitter @dicehawk

Kevin Kilroy: You must be busy with a full-time job and a family. How often do you pay attention to horse racing?

Andrew “Dice” Yeretsky: The trifectas and superfectas pay an obscene amount of money on Derby Day, so my attention to horse racing always picks up then. Other than that, I play on Saturdays and in some tournaments, which always picks up going forward from Derby Day.

KK: Did you hit any on Derby Day this year?

Dice: I hit the superfecta in the (Old Forester Bourbon) Turf Classic (G1).

KK: Santin’s win? That paid around $1500, right?

Dice: Yeah, it was a good score. I had been losing that day, so it came right on time. Those Pick 5 bets add up.

KK: I know it. That’s been a transition I’ve been making with my wagers, going deeper, spending more on my tickets, and it has helped.

Dice: Andy Serling mentioned once that if you are playing Pick 5s and spending less than $100, you are never going to win. That was simultaneously the best and the worst advice ever. It led me to spend more, but it also led me to a good year where I began hitting four-figure Pick 5s.

KK: As a lawyer and a poker player, my guess is that the game theory involved in constructing Pick 5 tickets would come natural to you.

Dice: I often think about game theory in terms of horse racing. With Pick 5, it’s huge to pick horses that others aren’t using. You’ve got to find some that others aren’t on. Otherwise, you might hit but get paid way less than the risk was worth. Like I said, I play good-sized tickets--usually around $200--but I’ve tried to focus lately on not picking more than one horse who is less than 3-1 in a leg. You have to pick one and go with it instead of adding an extra $100 to your ticket. I’ve found it never hurts to take a horse like that off your ticket. Often you go out on the first leg anyways, and that horse just ate your bankroll up but didn’t do you any good.

KK: Do you find yourself singling in legs--picking just one horse who you really believe can win?

Dice: I do. Especially with Pick 6s, I try to find two singles. It reduces the cost of the ticket so much.

KK: Being someone who has a lot of experience in other gambling and investing markets, do you feel horse racing is a good market to make profits?

Dice: I tell you what, it’s hard to find out where my edge is. You have guys out there who are able to get information about how horses are doing that I don’t have access to. You have computer players with their algorithms. And I often wonder if the tools I am using are being used by so many others that any insights I am getting from them don’t have value in the pools.

KK: That’s an interesting point. All of it, but especially the idea that we know a good amount of similar level horseplayers are using the same tools and listening to the same podcast experts. That definitely influences the pools and makes me wish I had my own speed figures and/or algorithms. 

Dice: I assume that many who do make money in horse racing are using game theory in this way and developing formulas for building tickets that exploit that.

KK: What tools do you use?

Dice: Intuitively, Timeform US and EquinEdge make the most sense to me. I’ve been using EquinEdge a lot recently. For me it’s the easiest thing to use and has helped me take down a few Pick 5s. And it helped me in last year’s Horseplayers Happy Hour Tour.  I use it to find value, comparing their value lines to the market’s line. Also, I’ll use it to help me find singles and longshots. It helps me to think outside of my own handicapping head.

KK: Anything else? 

Dice: I bet on TwinSpires, so I like to use the Profit Line (PL) odds to get a sense for which horses might be better value than others. It’s helpful, especially to find longshots. But, like I said, my worry with all these tools is the worry that others have the same information so I’m not finding that edge I was talking about.

KK: I saw you’ve cashed nicely at poker tournaments. What about those tournaments has helped you be successful with horses?

Dice: Poker tournament mentality has taught me how to go through losing streaks. That’s the biggest thing that translates to other gambling. You become numb to the losing. But the key is to not let the highs get too high or the lows get too low. Prolonged winning and losing streaks are a fact of life in poker. Horse racing, too.

KK: Good luck with this year’s Horseplayer’s Happy Hour. I saw you started hot in yesterday’s tournament.

Dice: Thanks. Hope to win that BCBC seat and see you there.