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Not everyone who goes to the dog track is a handicapper. I've mentioned before that, in my opinion, most people who bet on the dogs are NOT handicappers. They're bettors, but there's a big difference between being a handicapper and betting on the dogs on hunches, with numbers or names or because someone gave you a tip.
If you bet your house number or on dogs named "Ryan" because that's your son's name, you're a bettor, but you're not a handicapper. If you always bet the 1/2 double because the 1 and 2 boxes are the best boxes at the track, you're still not a handicapper. "Best" doesn't mean that the 1 dog or 2 dog will be in the quiniela in this particular race.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not dissing anyone who enjoys a night out at the track and has fun betting on numbers or names or anything else they think is lucky. Heck, I know a couple of people who seem to have luck at this and one guy who is obviously cashing tickets who says he uses Numerology to pick dogs. Whatever floats your boat, I guess, and if you have the money to spend, I guess it's no worse than dinner and a movie. Possibly cheaper considering the price of popcorn at theaters these days.
But back to handicapping. I think what separates real handicappers from wannabe handicappers is that real handicappers are determined to master the mysteries of picking winners and they put a lot of effort into doing just that. They search out information wherever they can find it: on the Net, in books, from other more experienced handicappers and from owners and trainers if they can manage to find any that will talk to them.
Real handicappers aren't the guys who loudly proclaim that they had every winner right after the race or the guy who never looks at his program until five minutes before the race goes off. Real handicappers spend a lot of time going over their programs and researching until they begin to understand how to tell if a dog is ready to win. After all, that's the secret to winning at the track.
There are indications and real handicappers learn to spot them. That's why the guy next to you who's been going to the track for 20 years had that 6 dog that you thought looked so bad when it won. He knew that it had run against much better dogs and - even though it hadn't run in the money in its last two races in the next grade up - it had made an effort and had closed against good dogs in a fast race.
He also knew from researching the dog's record that it loves the 6 box and had won twice in this grade from that box. This is the kind of thing that real handicappers know. They may or may not buy systems, which is a way of learning from more experienced handicappers, but they're always looking for anything that will help them get an edge on the other bettors.
They know that the other bettors - not the dogs or the track - are who they're betting against. All they have to do is be smarter and better at handicapping than the crowd that's betting their birthdays and they can make money. Some people read books. Some people buy systems. Some people talk to longtime handicappers and pick their brains for free. Some very intelligent people manage to figure it out all by themselves, but I haven't met many of those in my lifetime.
Handicapping is part science and part art. It takes a special kind of person to get good at it, because of the effort it takes to learn the ropes. It's not easy, but it's very rewarding if you get good enough at it to actually make money at the dog track. And that, of course, is a big reason for being a real handicapper.
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