2 November 2009

Back In The 60's You Could Bet $8 Million On A Horse And Not Even Affect The Odds

Ah yes, the good ole days. In Hollywood, when someone needed money desperately, and/or in a hurry, one of the only options was to go to the track and bet like a maniac. The only other real competition to this was robbing a bank.

I was reminded of this, on Halloween night. My job was to be in the kitchen on high alert, waiting for kids to come to door, so I could hand out candies and make sure my dog was reminded not to bite little people in scary costumes, though I don't blame her for being freaked out.

One of the US channels was playing and Addams Family marathon. It was one of my favourite shows when I was a kid. It is funnier today than it was back then by the way. The episode played at around 8ish and was named The Addams Family Splurges.

Bored and looking for excitement, the Addams Family decide that going to the moon would make for a great holiday destination. They consulted their home built computer (Whizzo) to find out how much such a trek would cost and found it to be slightly over a billion dollars (seeing the computer in action gave me a deeper appreciation for the Google search engine).

In short, they decide to make the billion at the track, using selections from the computer. The idea was to start with $2000 and parlay until the billion was made.

Here is the episode on Youtube:

"I seem to remember having an extra couple of thousand to bet with lying around here somewhere." Classic.

Now of course, there was obvious silliness and things that made no sense like when Fester wondered where the money went and was told it is in a safe at the bank. Or the idea that they were negotiating canceling the bet when there weren't cell phones (or mentions of them back then).

And those Hollywood stretch runs that last over a minute are a pet peeve of mine, as well as when they change the horse and/or its position when switching from those viewing the race to the actual race itself. And those quick DQs too just make me cringe.

The best part of the episode though, is that an $8 million bet wouldn't affect the odds of a 100-1 shot. Racetracks across the world would love that to be the case.

JCapper may be great software today, but it just can't come close to competing with Whizzo.

One more thing. Does anyone have any idea which track was being shown in the episode? Hialeah? Tropical Park?

On a serious note, lets hope the condition of Canadian born jockey Julia Brimo improves. She fell down hard in the first race at Keeneland on Saturday. At latest report she is still in critical condition.

Also, check out the New Deal as proposed by Pompano racing exec John Berry. Cutting takeout to 12% throughout the industry would be fabulous.

Where Berry comes up short is the real reason this would be successful and how it would lead to actual growth.

Horseplayers will last longer, which means they will devote more time gambling on horses, which will inevitably draw in friends, family and/or coworkers to the game as well. At least it ups the chance that they will get exposed to horse racing.

Also, the odd long term winner will be created, and this will inevitably draw in new players as well be it word of mouth or the internet.

The reason slots are so successful is that they get the odd newbie because of an addicted family member or friend. But if the addicted person had to face an 80% payback, they wouldn't go nearly as much if at all eventually.

In his example, he is saying that there will be an additional $50,000 lost by patrons each day. Yet he contends that bettors will be leaving with more money each day. So it is contingent on bettors playing a lot more often, and it implies new players coming in, because bettors don't have a bottomless pit of money.

In a nutshell, his idea would work, but not for the only reason he cites.

Good interview by HANA with a Betfair exec. It is a must read. Good move by the Breeders Cup.

I'm still not sure this deal benefits Betfair though, because allowing its customers to bet into large takeouts will cause many of their customers to lose too quickly and may cost them customers in the long term, just as North American racing has managed to do over the last 40 years.

Steve Davidowitz article up at Trackmaster (free registration required). His view on how to solve racing's most pressing problems. Takeout takeout takeout. OK, not just that.


Mary Forney's Blog said...

Funny post! Stumbled and dugg!

The_Knight_Sky said...

Talk about a blast from the past.
I had definitely watched that episode as a kid one summer.

I had long since forgotten the existence of that storyline. I probably would have remembered if interested in the horses back then and not Chris Evert. :P

Anonymous said...


Thanks, DanG