Gambler’s Ruin is a term that has been applied to several mathematical theories. The basic idea is that the longer you gamble the more likely you are to lose. That may sound incredibly simple, but how many people try to grind out a living gambling at the horse races day after day and finally tapping out? The first and most obvious point is that when you gamble against a player who has a bigger bankroll than yours, you’re at a disadvantage because he can last throw losing streaks longer than you can so he will eventually win your money.
But wait, you say, the horse races are different because I don’t gamble against the track, I gamble against the other players. Think of the other players, the pools that are put forth every day on each race, as a never ending source of money. Isn’t that how you would like it to be? You want to think that the money will be there everyday and if you figure out how to handicap well enough you’ll be able to dip into that pool every day and take out a profit.
The problem with that line of reasoning is that it is a source of wealth much larger than yours that you are gambling against. No matter what angle you use, eventually you’ll experience losing streaks. Those losing streaks over time will eat up a grinder’s roll. The pools at the race track will be replenished every day, unlike your own bankroll that is much more limited. The problem is “churn,” a term used in the gambling profession to describe what happens when gamblers keep reinvesting their money until the takeout eats it up.
The math doesn’t lie, but there are ways to reduce the effects. For one thing, bet less often and try to make more per bet. In that case it makes more sense to bet on long shots, if you can pick live bets. Another approach is to only gamble with amounts that you can replace on a weekly or monthly basis. You will still have losing streaks and times when you won’t make a profit, but if there is more money coming along, you won’t go broke. The problem with that, of course, is that you may be bleeding money week after week and year after year. There are no simple solutions to horse racing handicapping profitability.
I prefer to play the races for a while and then take a break. I keep track of my money and consider each foray a gambling campaign. Reducing my horse playing to sessions and campaigns makes it easier to manage my money and to have success that bolsters confidence. Dividing my play into a set number of races, say forty or fifty races, I can track performance and make adjustments.