“Bad Bill” McBride has done it again. He’s given yet another rejuvenating lift to greyhound racing literature with a new book that deserves to prove just as successful as others he has written.

McBride deserves recognition as perhaps the greatest innovator of the last 50 years where writing about greyhound racing is concerned. His books are packed with useful information, not only about the selection component of the sport but about HOW to bet the selections.

And it’s this last aspect that comes under his spotlight in his latest book, Multiply Your Winnings At The Greyhound Track.

McBride says: “After being a student of greyhound racing for over 30 years I continue to be amazed at the percentage of fans who consistently struggle to resolve a profit problem by devoting more and more time and effort to the super-refining of their handicapping approach.

“This is almost invariably done at the cost of spending time to improve their wagering approach. I am often asked what percentage of one’s time should be spent on handicapping and what percentage on wagering studies and my considered opinion is that the bettor should think in terms of 50-50, never getting out of balance to more than 60/40, one way or the other.”

The following is a question and answer session I had with Bill McBride following the release of his new book.
BLACK TOP (BT): Bearing in mind what you’ve just said Bill how much time do most fans spend on handicapping?

BILL (B): At least 95 per cent on their handicapping! In fact, when fans get together, their conversation almost always centres around handicapping factors like box positions, speed, a dog’s running habits and grade history, average winnings per start and so on. I think if you asked them for their most successful wagering strategy that most of them wouldn’t know. They might say they bet quinellas or trifectas, but question them a bit more and most would be at a loss to provide further details about which tracks they do best at, or what grades of race they might win at.

BT: Where do you have an edge over your fellow greyhound fans?

B: Well, the average for the public is to pick anything from 25 to 28 per cent winners, but after years of study and practice, I and some other experienced handicappers, can improve this to 30 to 32 per cent, more in some grades and less in others, and knowing which is an indispensable tool.

BT: What’s one of the standard factors in greyhound racing which all punters should be aware of?

B: Well, this is proven . . . Start the same eight dogs in 10 races on the same track but change their starting box order and it’s a sure bet that 10 different orders of finish will occur. On the betting side, we have to get real, or perhaps I should say humble about our handicapping skills. They are only going to get so good and from there on, if we are going to make a profit we’ve got to learn how to make profitable wagers based on our own level of handicapping success.

BT: Where does the average punter start?

B: He or she needs to identify where their handicapping works best and where it is too unreliable. This is clearly going to affect when, where and how you are going to have to bet. In my book, there’s an accuracy table which professionals use to determine the accuracy of their picks over a period of time.

BT: It’s often been said to me that punters have a tendency to want to know too much and that they think that their handicapping alone is the reason for success. What do you think?

B: The deeper a person digs into greyhound handicapping the more convinced that person becomes that handicapping alone is going to be the key to real success. And this conviction continues on through proof after proof, or what I mean is loss after loss, that indicates it is faulty. When the fan starts to see some rewards from his early efforts at basic handicapping this mindset becomes almost impossible to change. It’s a fact that most aspiring greyhound handicappers believe that the more successful handicappers know some handicapping secrets that he hasn’t yet learned! And he will keep trying and trying to pry those secrets out, and all the while he is neglecting what he really should be investigating, and that is learning how he can make profitable bets on his less than perfect handicapping predictions.

BT: Well, do the professionals really have secrets?

B: Successful handicappers have learned that handicapping can only be brought to a certain level and they have figured out for themselves what kind of bets work for them, at which tracks, on which kinds of races, with the inherent unpredictability that is greyhound racing.

BT: What must the punter understand in his battle to win at the dogs?

B: Your whole approach is to be smarter than the average fan when it comes to picking your selections and wagering on them. You not only have to be better than the average fan, you have to be at least 25 per cent better, just to break even.

BT: All this takes money, so how much does a punter need to have a fighting chance to getting into some useful profit figures?

B: The $2 straight trifecta wager might be hit only once out of a hundred races by a really skilled handicapper, and while that might possibly break even for the bettor, who wants to buy 99 losing tickets, no matter how cheap? The path to real profits will involve a certain level of investment.

As with the stock market, some risk is involved, but unlike stocks and shares, you will have some control over the outcome. Not control over the order in which a given race will finish, of course, but control over your odds for a profit, by means of structuring your wager in a manner that better ensures a winning ticket. In my book I advise punters how to learn to “buy” the cheapest ticket possible that will provide them with an acceptable return.

BT: But what about dollar value as far as a bank is concerned?

B: If you’re a reasonably capable handicapper willing to pass the few lottery races that will be on any card, and if you have found that the trifecta pool generally provides your best return and you tend to bet into this pool at the $1 level, you probably should start each card with a bankroll of around $250 to $350. If you’re a skilled, top-rank handicapper planning to bet on only the best three or four races on a card, and you’re planning to bet mostly into the exacta pool at the $5 level, then a bankroll of around $200 will likely be sufficient.

BT: And how about those average handicappers who want to have a crack at every race on the card?

B:Well, if you’re an average type mostly betting into the trifecta pool at the $1 level, you’re likely to lose a number of your high-risk races along with a few of your better races, so you’d better have around $500 to $600 to see you through some bad luck race cards. If you are decent at handicapping, determined to bet on every race but hesitant to bet as wide as your wager back-test indicates, your bets will cost less but your profits will likely be nil.

BT: In your book, you have a list under the heading “Putting It All Together”. Which three of those 10 factors do you feel are vital.

B: I guess they are all vital, but to cherry pick a few . . . keep records of all of your past handicapping outcomes, race results and payoffs for at least a period of several months; back-test how different betting approaches would have succeeded based on your handicapping predictions and from this research develop your strategies for improved profitability; and determine which kinds/types of races provide you with the best odds of probability and which are the worst.

** Bad Bill McBride’s book Multiply Your Winnings At The Greyhound Track is available from booksellers on the Internet, or direct from the author at: BAD BILL’S PUBLISHING  59 Dover Ct.  Reynoldsburg , OH 43068 USA   www.howtobeatthedograces.com

By ‘Black Top’