Thursday, January 05, 2006

Fundamental Need To Be Correct: Guest Post from BG

Editor's Note: As you know, I'm off the next two weeks working on my Las Vegas book project. In the meantime, my friends will be taking over the Tao of Poker. Here's the second of a collection of guest posts from your favorite bloggers. If you don't know, BG had been sick the past few weeks. He's finally out of the hospital and I'm honored that he's sharing a post with us today, which includes both random thoughts and thoroughbred selections. Thanks a lot BG!

Fundamental Need To Be Correct

I want to play in the abstract. I want to operate in the hypothetical, weigh my own options and watch the actualities play out well after I've ran the possibilities in my head.

Maybe it's because I'm wired this way. Favorite class in college? Econ. Loved understanding the baseline philosophies behind the motivations of the markets, really helped me make more sense of everything around me. I'm a theory guy, watching it all shake out in practice is fine and all, but I don't need to see the wheels turning to know why the combustion engine should work.

Maybe it's because I'm a control-freak completist whose Maslow chart would include the extra entry of "Fundamental Need To Be Correct." I talk in circles, even in casual conversation, in an attempt to close every loophole on the way to making my point. I need to see the possibilities and probabilities in my own head before I can help you see the light. It's compulsive and annoying, but here we are.

Or maybe I want to play in the hypothetical because reality has just flat-out sucked lately.

On New Year's Eve I was taken to the emergency room with a persistent fever and abdominal cramps, and it took three nights hooked to an IV bag to rehydrate me adequately enough for release.

By the way, would it surprise you to know this would probably rank as a solid #2 on my Worst New Year's Eve Ever List? In June of 2001 I discovered my then-wife was "falling in love" with some British dude she met on the Internet. In early December of that year she decided she needed to get away for a little while to "find herself" so we could be better together. On December 29th, 2001 she hopped a plane to - wait for it - England to do just that. So let's give the death knell of 2001 the top slot on the Worst Ever List, and assume that despite being stuck in a hospital with tubes running into me, at least I was comfortable and not mentally working through the logistics of packing all my shit and leaving my best friend and wife before she got back to town.

Anyway, far be it from me to tell you this New Year's didn't suck, because it did. The guy in the next room watched his TV until five or six in the morning at an ungodly volume, they keep the "climate-controlled" rooms there somewhere just cooler than "Amazonian" thereby ensuring an entire slumber full of flop sweats, and the first thing I did in this new year was trip over my IV tube, pulling it half out of my arm and creating a temporary "fluid sac" under my skin that took a couple of hours to naturally ooze drain.

Although my gracious host here has been fond of wishing me well for my "ass problems," it's really the part of the colon that connects the large and small intestines. But it's still my colon, and I'll let the Doc stick with his initial diagnosis. So anyway, I'm currently on this plan that's euphemistically titled The Low Residue Diet. Basically, if it's soft and not chock-full of complex fibers, I can brew a small and easy dump that won't strain my already-bulging colon. This diet also precludes me from the greasy food I so love and adore too. Since I'm due to have surgery to remove the offending piece of my bowels in about twelve weeks, if you factor in the recovery time I'm unlikely to so much as taste a french fry before July.

Considering the alternative, which might include extreme discomfort, emergency surgery and a colostomy bag, I'll go ahead and skip the Double Whopper combo meal for the time being.

I don't get to drink away the pain either. Not until next week, after the antibiotics have been emptied from their respective bottles.

So what does this have to do with poker? Well, not a whole hell of a lot, other than I'm in a rut where playing the game has been really irritating lately. I'm not just talking about the same old bad beats, although they're definitely obnoxious. It's not the know-it-all jerkoffs who insist on berating your play with suited connectors either, despite how frustrated I get listening to that bullshit too.

It's the math and mechanics that are getting to me these days. The here-and-now of the decision making necessary to play the game "correctly." I've been playing too much limit poker, and the constant re-evaluation of the math and the pot odds (combined, of course, with a little bit of a losing streak - everything is more palatable with a bulging bankroll) has got me frustrated. I know in my heart that poker is a game of percentages, and I normally live and love every check, call and raise.

It's just another area of my life where I'm running bad right now, and I'm not sure I have the patience for the reality of all this. So today, we're gravitating in another direction - horses. With the horses, I can play in the hypotheticals, do my handicapping, find my favorites and run these races in my head prior to putting my money down wherever I can find value.

Wait, so I'm not just betting on the favorite? Or the horse I think has the best chance of winning? You can't, actually. The whole concept of value is finding your price on a betting option, and only playing it if the odds you're being offered exceed the odds you're giving the horse to win. Every horse has some chance of winning, the game here is to find the bet(s) on the board that give you the most for your money. I love this game because it gives me the chance with every race to prove I'm the smartest guy in the room when the race unfolds like I thought it would. I can put the pieces together in the abstract and have my theories confirmed in the minute-plus from post to wire.

So, in an effort to satisfy my gambling Jones, I'll be playing today's card at Tampa Bay Downs. I've broken down the races, and here's some plays I can toss your way, if you're interested in coming along for the ride...
  • Race 1 - #4 Bronx Cheer stepped up off an October win, ran second to a much classier horse than any of these today last out and hung a solid speed rating. I'd play at 2/1 or better.

  • Race 2 - With no real pressure to the pace, #2 Preceptor should get out to the front. Good signs with the step up in class and I like the bullet workout on 12/23. Probably ready for this spot. Play at 5/2 or better. #8 Bluff can close when asked, but should need a hotter pace which looks unlikely. I do like this horse at 5/1 or better (meaning higher), but I don't think that'll happen.

  • Race 5 - #1 Kisses For Kara shows solid closing ability, and despite near-paceless look to this race should come in for a share. I like that the trainer is dialing down the distance for her a little bit, makes sense for this one. Play at 7/2 or better. I like #8 Kickn Chickn a bit here too, despite some oddly erratic choices by the trainer recently. I like Bernal onboard and the second off layoff angle for some improvement, and that this horse may go up and challenge for the lead early. Good play at 9/2 or better.

  • Race 6 - Plenty to like here in a competitive AOC race. #1 Sacred Feather has raced at Churchill, which I like, and lost her last out to an unpressured pacesetter who ran away with the race - but hung a career-best 81 Beyer in the place at this track/class/distance. Solid workouts, steady improvement, and should love the pace scenario without a speedster up front. Tough to like a short price on this one with a lot of competition, but I'd play at 5/2 or better. #3 Ashley and I has the second off layoff angle (which I love) and could bounce a Beyer spike to the mid 70s, which would be competitive here. 5/1 or better? #4 A Different Tune gets hot jockey Lezcano onboard, the second off angle and hung a career-best Beyer last out. Great workouts in late Nov/early Dec and is really ready to strike here. Play this one at 7/2 or better for sure. #6 Buck Spender had a huge workout on 12/30, which should sharpen her speed for this sprint. Wouldn't surprise if she wakes up and grabs the lead and maybe even goes wire-to-wire. That being said, she laid a big egg last time coming off a good workout. 6/1 or better only. And #9 Cacchinated could be a longshot above 10/1 worth watching.

  • Race 7 - #6 Montecastillo needs only a marginally average performance in this spot. Great play at or around 2/1. #7 On The Fan, should those odds float up towards 10/1, could be worth looking at. Steer clear of #8 Tactical De Naskra, totally overrated in this spot.

  • Race 8 - #7 Davids Expectation needs only an average Beyer to win here, and I expect that will happen. Gets that second off layoff angle I dig, and has a history of running in stiffer competition than this. Like this one at 6/5 or better. #1 Great Plains has great recent Beyers, and I really dig that the trainer reclaimed this horse one race after another trainer claimed him, even paying a $4K premium to do so. This is a little bit of an ambitious class jump, but he could score. 9/2 or better.

  • Race 9 - I'm really torn on #7 Chispazo. I love the unpressured pace he's likely to set, and he's on his second off which could mean a nice performance spike. Has a good history running this distance, and his best will be plenty. I think he might end up close to 5/1 on the board due to the scary-ass trainer/jockey connection, which might be the worst connection on today's card. I'd play him at 5/1. #2 Andiamo is interesting and due for a Beyer spike. He was running over his head in class, but this should now be the right spot and the right pace scenario for this horse. Great workouts lately, but he'll probably be overbet. Like him at 7/2 or better. #1 County Trial has always shown a Beyer spike in his second off layoff, which is where he is coming in today. He's a stalker and will enjoy not having to chase a rabbit out front too. He's only ran this distance on the turf before, which I don't like much, but seems capable of striking in this spot too. 3/1 on the Morning Line, I'd play at 9/2 or better.
Good luck to me today, let's hope I'm more right than wrong.

BG is a writer and blogger from Western Michigan. Be sure to stop by his blog Random Thoughts and Thoroughbred Selections.

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