Jason Beem's Thursday Column for Dec. 8, 2022
A good Thursday to you all! I was trying to think back earlier this week about an old score I made, thinking it was around this time of year. It was at Hollywood Park in 2005, so I went digging through the old charts. Sure enough, December 2, there it was, the late Pick 4!
First of all, how great was the $1 minimum? Love it and wish every track would bring it back. The reason I remembered that score was because I knew it was around the holidays because that same week I hit a big trifecta at Hawthorne, and my bankroll was flush for 2005 Jason — so flush that I drove to Santa Anita after Christmas and proceeded to flush most of that score away over the course of a week in Los Angeles.
That heartwarming tale of me spending money leads into today’s topic, and that is money management. Building on last week’s conversation about bankroll, money management is kind of exactly as it sounds. The idea of using a gambling specific bankroll we talked about last week plays into how we manage our wins and losses.
I first heard about money management as a concept in gambling when watching poker. You would often hear about players having “leaks.” Leaks were essentially ways that their bankroll leaked out of their wallet and back into someone else’s hands. Someone could be a winning poker player, but if they spent too much of those winnings on blackjack or craps or drinking or whatever, those wins in poker suddenly became losses overall.
I think sometimes as gamblers we incorrectly view gambling winnings as found money. And found money is often viewed and spent as though it’s “extra” and thus tends to find its way out of our hands quickly. But surely for the serious horseplayer, that money wasn’t found. It was earned through handicapping work, bet construction, and through dealing with losses. So shouldn’t it be treated as earned money? Shouldn’t we respect it and use it as betting ammunition for our good opinions as opposed to just throwing it around and gambling with it?
If you’re a Pick 5 player, for instance, you’re very often swinging for the fences and trying to make a large score. The rush of the big win is something a lot of players chase, and part of that chase is lots and lots of losing tickets that don’t cash.
A casual Pick 5 player may go weeks or months between hits. And those hits need to replenish our bankrolls from those weeks and months of misses. So when we do hit, why do we so often use that money for celebration or for bad action bets because we’re riding high? I ask that question as someone who always spent big-hit money on celebration and action bets.
I think the main psychological culprit is that money feels so big when it’s all paid to us in that one big chunk. If we hit for $10,000, even if it makes us even for the last six months, we feel like in the short term we’re up $10,000. And we often spend as though that is the case. It’s a short-term mindset that I think so many of us horseplayers are guilty of when it comes to how we manage our wins.
Big wins are exciting, and who I am to tell anyone what to do with their money. I just think when we’re playing the races for long-term enjoyment and hopefully winning that it’s important to keep those big scores in perspective; that they are just a good bump in the ledger on the course of a long journey.
That said, I hope your weekend includes a big score!