Power Cap

Power cap- existential handicapping

30 July 2009

No Program Numbers




A few years ago I was out in Vegas on one of these frequent excursions I go on. As much as I like playing horses I am also a card player going back to 1981. When I was 5 years old I played gin rummy just about everyday with Rose Casini and her elderly friends who used to babysit me.


For years I have been making money playing blackjack using my own personal martingale system, while the house had come close, they had not busted me out in years. As my winning streak grew year after year my confidence did not identify the danger of a big bust out while using my Martingale system. This was the day things went haywire for me in blackjack for the first time in a long time.

I had a large bet down after winning a bunch of hands in a row just a few minutes after arriving from the airport. I got dealt a pair of 6's which I split because the dealer had showed a bust card. Then unbelievably I got dealt another 6 and then yet another. So I was split four ways to the dealers bust card. The way things worked out I ended up doubling two of the hands and had a significant portion of my bankroll on the table. Long story short but the horror of defeat rushed over me and the dealer pulls a twenty one from out of nowhere. So now I was down and out. I went on tilt and lost the rest of the bankroll shortly after this bizarre hand just thirty minutes after arriving from New York. Dejected and rejected I moseyed over to the sports book to play my last $5 before I turned this gambling trip into a hike to Red Rock Canyon. With the bankroll brutalized I needed to walk off the pain/kill time. As I last ditch effort I sit down in the sports book to look at the racing form and try to make something out of nothing.

It was a Tuesday and 5 MTP to a race at Colonial downs. On Tuesday the Vegas racing form does not have program numbers only names. Quickly looking at the form the third horse down looked tremendous on paper. Form, class, speed and nice works. I look up and the horse is 75-1! What a great price! I run up there to the tellers and bet my last $5. Then I go back to the seat and notice my huge mistake. There was an entry and the 3 that I thought was 75-1 was actually the 4 horse One Genius who was returning from a 7 month layoff and was first time turf coming off horrible races while stepping up in class.

The horse I thought I was betting at 75-1 was actually the 6-5 chalk. As we move to post time the number 4 horse I am now stuck with clicks up to 99-1. Not only did I lose my ass at blackjack with uncharacteristic liberal play but now I am betting my last $5 like a moron on the wrong horses in the sportsbook.

They break from the gate and I have my head in my hands as I am mumbling some gibberish to myself. The 6-5 chalk takes the lead with the 4 horse One Genius tracking the pace in the pocket. They stay that way around the clubhouse turn and along the backside.

As they turn for home One Genius is still in the race. One Genius switches out and I switch out from the seat to the aisle of the sports book. I drop to my knees and start pounding the floor with both fists as I am yelling as loud as I could for One Genius to get up. This was championship caliber rooting drawn from my days at a dirty OTB in Queens, you know the kind of rooting that offends people. It was a nip and tuck duel for the entire length of the stretch with the chalk and One Genius head bobbing for what seemed like forever.


By the slimmest of margins one Genius scores by a zop in a very dirty photo. The feeling came over me when I knew I won like the feeling you get when you ride the Cyclone in Coney Island for the first time. It was a huge thrill almost like the adrenaline rush you feel when you get away from someone that is trying to kill you if you have ever experienced that. I was out of my mind in the sports book and the whole room was looking at the spectacle I had made of myself. When they post the prices I could not believe it. One Genius paid $217 to win. I have hit much bigger tickets and have done so with thought, handicapping, shrewdness and logic but this mistake hit was the biggest thrill I have ever had in horseplaying.


When someone who watched my hysterics stopped me to ask; how did I pick this crazy 99-1 horse? I paused for a nanosecond and was going to tell him about the program numbers/mistake. But them off the cuff I told him the horse was bred for grass and I knew he would run on grass and he was worth a shot at that price. Dumb luck is highly underrated.

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