Two Golden Rules of Horse Racing Handicapping and Betting

Almost every human endeavor has a golden rule that the participants need to learn in order to be successful. Handicapping horse races is no exception. There are a few truths of the game that every horseplayer will eventually discover, many times by experience. While knowing the golden rules may not make you successful, not knowing the golden rules will almost always contribute to your failure.

There are many ways to arrive at a horse to bet on or an exotic combination, however the golden rules are immutable. They do not change no matter how many races you play or what kind of race you play. Off track or fast track, they don’t change. There are times when you’ll hate them and other times when you will rely on them. Don’t take them personally. They were true before you were born and when you’ve cashed your final ticket, they will still be going strong.

The first rule is that nothing works all the time. By that I mean that any angle you can think of or discover will work some of the time, but nothing will work all the time. There are sad stories of a horse player discovering an angle and playing it on paper for a long time before finally taking the plunge and betting on that angle. He builds confidence, it seems to always make him money so he finally mortgages the agrarian business and puts it all into his new money making wonder only to have the universe pull the switcheroo and to have it stop working.

He pours more and more into it certain that it will start to work again and make him money and guess what? That laughing sound you hear is the god’s having a good yuk on the hapless gambler because he didn’t believe it when he read that almost anything will work some of the time, but nothing works all the time.

Rule two is value and all that it implies when it comes to finding bets. Good horseplayers don’t look for good horses, they look for good bets and in my experience they are hard to find. What makes a bet a good one? Profit over the long run is the answer. It is a racing and betting scenario that when played many times will return the bettor’s original investment along with a profit. Some call it ROI. Because things are always changing at the track those profitable scenarios come and go which leads us back to rule one.

BE creative and always keep an open mind. Keep looking for the next good angle and don’t bet a dead horse when the universe hits the “off” switch and the angle goes South, so to speak. Know when to play it and when to pass it up.

SWTOR Crew Skills

SWTOR Crew Skills are a little different than other MMO professions since you don’t have to do any of the gathering or crafting yourself. The crew skills allow you to assign the task to your companions while you continue questing, PVPing, or doing any other part of the game you are interested in.

Once you hit level 10 you will be able to pick your crew skills. There are 3 types of skills to choose from, Crafting, Gathering, and Mission. You may only have a total of 3 skills at once and you are limited to 1 crafting skill. So basically you will have either 3 gathering, 3 mission, 1 crafting with 2 gathering, 1 crafting with 2 mission or 1 crafting with 1 gathering and 1 mission.

Gathering Skills: You can choose up to 3 gathering skills for your character.

  • Archaeology: Allows you to find imbued items like Lightsaber crystals and ancient artifacts. The crystals that are mined provide resources for Artifice and Synthweaving.
  • Bioanalysis: Allows you to collect genetic material from creatures and plants. These items are used by Biochem.
  • Scavenging: Allow you to recover useful materials and parts from old or damaged technology. These materials are used in Cybertech, Armstech, and Armormech.
  • Slicing: Allows you to access secured computer systems and lockboxes to acquire valuable data and rare schematics. The information is mainly used in Cybertech.

Mission Skills: You may have up to 3 mission skills for your character

  • Diplomacy: the art of conducting and managing negotiations. This provides medical supplies, companion gifts and light/darkside points.
  • Investigation: the skill of examining evidence and following clues to discover valuable secrets. This provides prototype schematics, research compounds and companion gifts.
  • Treasure Hunting: the ability to track down and recover valuable items by investigating a series of clues. This provides lockboxes, gemstones, and companion gifts.
  • Underworld Trading: expertise in the trading of illegal goods and services. This provides luxury fabrics, custom schematics and companion gifts.

Crafting Skills: You may only have 1 crafting skill for your character

  • Armormech: This skill allows you to craft personal armor using hard metals and electronic shielding.
  • Armstech: This skill allows you to craft various weapons such as blasters, assault cannons and sniper rifles. You can also make weapon upgrades and modifications.
  • Artifice: This skill allows you to construct Jedi and Sith artifacts such as lightsaber modifications.
  • Biochem: This skill allows the creation of performance-enhancing chemical serums and biological implants.
  • Cybertech: This skill allows you to create droid armor, earpieces, grenades, armoring, mods and miscellaneous gadgets.
  • Synthweaving: This skill allows you to creating lighter outfits and armors that are imbued with supernatural qualities for Force users.

After choosing your crafting skills, you’re given the ability to reverse engineer certain items in your inventory. Reverse Engineering breaks items down into components you can then use to craft new items, including a higher quality version of that same item. You can reverse engineer most items that you craft and some items that you find in the world. When an item is reversed engineered, the item is destroyed in the process so be careful what you select.

Here are some suggestions for matching up SWTOR Crew Skills to your class:

Jedi Knight – Artifice, Synthweaving, Biochem, Cybertech

Jedi Consular – Artifice, Synthweaving, Biochem, Cybertech

Smuggler – Armormech, Armstech, Biochem, Cybertech

Trooper – Armormech, Armstech, Biochem, Cybertech

Sith Warrior – Artifice, Synthweaving, Biochem, Cybertech

Sith Inquisitor – Artifice, Synthweaving, Biochem, Cybertech

Bounty Hunter – Armormech, Armstech, Biochem, Cybertech

Imperial Agent – Armormech, Armstech, Biochem, Cybertech

This provides you with a basics understand of the SWTOR Crew Skills.

Lotto Lie 5

This is the fifth article in the Lotto Lies series. There are many who believe that there are no such things as a lottery number patterns or trends. Therefore, using a computer for Lottery Number Analysis is a waste of time. After all, the lottery is a random game of chance. Right? How could there possibly be any trends? Such skeptics would have a good point except for the fact that the trends are there for everyone to see. Well, at least those that are willing to look.

Lotto Lie No. 5 – There are no such things as lottery trends.

All right, let’s go looking for some lottery trends.

Prospecting

Now, there are people who possess a unique ability to look at a lottery’s winning number history and see lottery number patterns and trends. They are few and far between and, I admit, I don’t have a clue how they do it. Most people, me included, could look at the winning number history for weeks on end and only hope to find that bottle of Motrin.

If we are going to go prospecting for lottery trends, we are going to need some prospecting tools. Such modern-day prospecting is done with a computer and a quality lottery software program. We also need to know what a lottery trend looks like. Otherwise, how would we recognize one if we found it?

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words – But, a Graph Is Better.

Let’s start this discussion by making a graph. We’ll use the Mega Millions 5/56 lottery as an example.

First, for each drawing in the lottery’s history, we’ll select 5 numbers at random and compare them to the winning numbers and see how well we did. If two of our numbers were winners, we would plot a 2 on our graph for that drawing. If none of our numbers were winners, we would plot a 0, etc. When we were finished we would have a nice graph to look at for our effort. We’ll call this graph our random selection graph.

Each point on the graph represents how we did in that drawing. But, how well did we do overall? The easiest way to answer that is to simply average all the points on the graph. This would give us an Average Number of Hits per Drawing. We can use this as a figure of merit. We could compare other number selection techniques to this figure of merit to see if we did better or worse than random number selection.

What should this Average Hits per Drawing be? Selecting 5 numbers out of 56 means we’re selecting 5/56 or 8.9% of the possible numbers. Therefore, we should expect that, over the long haul, we would average 8.9% x 5 correct picks per drawing or 0.45 Average Hits per Drawing. The Average Hits per Drawing for the random selection graph will be very, very close to this number.

Some of you are probably asking, “What was this exercise for?” The purpose was to find the Average Hits per Drawing, 0.45. We can now compare lottery trends we discover to this number to see if the trend is better or worse than random number selection. Now, we know what a lottery trend should look like. If we find a Mega Millions trend with an Average Hits per Drawing that is greater than 0.45, we’re on to something.

Aha! A Trend.

So, do trends like this even exist? And, if they do, how good are they? The answer to the first question is, “Yes; in every lottery, every day.” The answer to the second question is, “Much better than you might expect.” We’re not talking about a paltry 1% or 2% improvement above random number selection. We’re not talking 4% or 5%. We’re not talking 8% or 9%. We’re not talking 11% to 12%. Oh, no. Depending on the lottery, we’re talking 15% to 30% improvement!

Excited yet? Let’s look at 194 drawings of the Mega Millions 5/56 lottery from 1/04/11 to 11/09/12. Since we are looking for lottery trends, we are looking for numbers that are resurfacing in some statistically influential way. In other words, we are looking back into the lottery’s history to select numbers to play in the next drawing. But, where in the history should we look?

This is where a computer with a lottery software program is indispensable because it would be virtually impossible to uncover these trends by hand calculation. Well, not impossible, but the drawing is this Saturday and, next month, after working 24/7 without food or drink, when you finally complete the analysis, the train already left the station.

Cycles Will Bring You Around

Cycle 13 has been the best in the Mega Millions lottery. Cycle 13 identifies a place to look in the lottery’s history. That place is 13 drawings ago. By always going to that place to find 5 numbers to play, rather than randomly selecting them, you would have averaged 0.56 winning numbers per drawing instead of 0.45. That’s an amazing 24% improvement! This is an obvious trend that is statistically relevant and cannot be ignored. Cycle 3 was a close second at 0.55.

But, that’s not all. Without realizing it was a poor choice, suppose you always selected your numbers from eight drawings ago; Cycle 8. Sadly, it only produced an average of 0.36 winning numbers per drawing. Cycle 13 outperformed Cycle 8 by a whopping 55.5%! As you can clearly see, making good decisions is vitally important. Now, don’t you wish you had this kind of information available to you before picking your lottery numbers?

In any other game of chance out there, a 24% to 55.5% advantage will bring a big smile to any gambler’s face. This doesn’t mean that Cycle 13 has always produced winners. But, it does mean that over time, it has been the best producer of winning numbers.

I can hear the skeptics out there right now, jumping up and down, saying, “Ya but, that doesn’t mean it will continue to be the best.” True, but these trends have what I call Persistence. They don’t appear overnight nor do they disappear tomorrow. Cycles 13 and 3 were both in the top ten producing Cycles 50 drawings ago (drawing 144). That means they have been two of the best choice for the last 50 drawings.

So, if you’re going to play the most difficult game in the world, you need to take advantage of everything your lottery has to offer. Does this mean you’re going to win the lottery? No, not at all. There is much more to it. This is just a simple example to quiet the naysayers, skeptics and critics who try to insist that lottery number analysis is a waste of time and there are no such things as lottery number patterns or trends. Now, to join the ranks of serious lottery players, you’re going to need a computer and a quality lottery software program.

Look for the sixth article in the Lotto Lies series; “Best Lottery Advice – I don’t play the lottery because that’s gambling.”

Texas Hold ‘Em Poker – Can You Beat a Bot?

When I first started to learn the game of chess, I bought a cheap chess playing computer from Radio Shack. I was pretty good at the novice level, but when I moved the setting up a notch or two, I soon realized just how poorly I really played. I never won a game. That was 30 years ago. Computers have come a long way since then.

I mention this because it ties in with an article I recently read about a poker playing Bot. (A poker bot is computer program written to play online poker.) Before I get into that, let me tell you about an experience I had several years ago. A gentleman stopped by my computer store one morning and asked me if I could get him the fastest computer on the market. Then he told me that when an even faster one comes along, he’d buy that one too.

I asked him what he was going to use it for (So I’d know how to set it up.) and he was very hesitant in answering me. Finally, he invited me to his house, saying it would be easier for him to show me than to explain what he was doing.

When I got there, I found two computers setting side by side. One was state-of-the-art, the other was just an average system. After much him-hawing, he finally told me that he was making a ton of money playing Backgammon on the Internet. I thought he was kidding, but he wasn’t.

Here’s what he was doing. He was entering high-stakes online Backgammon tournaments that paid big bucks to the winner. He had an edge. He had purchased a world class Backgammon program and was running it on the “fast” computer while he played the tournament on the slower computer. He would duplicate the ‘live’ game, move by move on the “fast” system, and it would analyze the board positions and tell him what move to make next. Because time was at a premium, he needed the fastest computer he could get to do the analysis. I was amazed.

In the last few years, Texas Hold’em, not Backgammon has become the game of choice. It’s estimated that as many as 2 million Texas Hold’em players ante up online each month. The PPA (Poker Players Alliance) has over 1,000,000 registered members in the United States. I’d guess that most of these players figure their odds of winning online are about the same as they would be if they were playing in a physical casino. That may not be the case.

One problem when doing anything on the Internet is that you can never be sure of who or “what” you might be doing it with. That’s true with chat lines, messaging services, and now, even fellow poker players. There are poker bots you can purchase on-line that are specifically programed to play ‘limit’ Texas Hold’em. They analyze the game in real time. They know the ‘percentage of winning’ as the hand unfolds. They don’t get tired and make mistakes, they play using the most powerful poker strategies available including pot-odds, and they need ‘no’ human intervention at all. Some of them can even play up to eight tables at the same time.

Bots are outlawed in almost every online casino. But because they are so hard to detect, my guess is…many of them are playing right now and the other players at the table have no clue as to what they’re up against! Remembering my experience with the chess computer…I doubt I’d stand a chance against a poker bot. Not in the long run. Of course, they don’t win all the time. There’s still a lot of luck involved in any card game. But if I were a betting man, I’m afraid I’d have to bet on the bot.