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How to Apply Poker Skills to Horse Racing

Both card games and sports betting have a lot in common with limited information used to calculate an outcome


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Different fields, card games and sports betting have a lot in common. In both ventures, there’s a limited amount of information used to calculate an outcome. At the table, players are forecasting other’s cards against their own and the dealer’s, while punters are busy predicting how two competitors will fare during a given match. In terms of applicable crossover skills, poker and horseracing pair well together.

Many horseracing enthusiasts focus their attention on the Grand National, which is one of the oldest sporting events in the world, alongside the Stanley Cup and Calcutta Cup. A few important considerations for those looking to apply their skills at Aintree are field size and adjusting to conditions.

Oddly enough, the Grand National has been around about the same time as modern poker. The horse race kicked off at Aintree back in 1839, which was around the same time that poker traveled west to the US. In the period the Grand National became a prominent event related to British culture, variations of stud poker were evolving in the saloons of the American Wild West.

The Grand National is revered as ‘the ultimate test of horse and rider’, and poker is considered a battleground of game theory and instinct. But what, exactly, do furlongs and bluffs have in common? Let’s take a closer look at how experts in poker can find their footing at Aintree and other horse racing tracks.

Pay Attention to Number of Competitors

One of the most crucial factors to consider before wagering on a horse race is the number of competitors. Typically, major races will have shifting numbers of entrants based on last-minute factors like injuries. For example, the Grand National can have anywhere between 40 to 60 horses.

Punters know to leverage their bets accordingly; solid picks may under perform when tightly surrounded, allowing underdogs to make a play for first. The same goes for poker. A larger pool of competitors means there’s less of a chance of winning— like in accumulator betting, strategy should be adjusted accordingly.

For poker players, this may mean lowering their bids or opting for a different table. For punters, this likely means placing an each-way bet on a horse to place.

Weigh Game Day Conditions

In horseracing and other forms of sports betting, game-day conditions are one of the most pivotal factors considered by pundits, analysts, and fans. A rainy day on the tracks can have devastating effects on the outcome of a race, as can other factors like the wellbeing of a jockey.

At the horse track, these conditions will directly influence the final wagers a punter places. At the poker table, last-minute adjustments could happen with each hand. Playing aggressively may work at one table where players are more passive, but not at the next.

Weighing conditions as they arise is one of the most challenging and rewarding elements of punting and playing poker alike. For seasoned vets, this is actually what it’s all about—putting their knowledge to the test when last-minute changes arise, whether that’s a dark horse competitor or a huge push all-in.

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Manage Money Wisely

Punters and players will need to weigh conditions before and during major tournaments and races. Another element that unites both fields is bankroll management. As mentioned directly above, assessing conditions is one of the most exhilarating aspects of betting on a horse or calling a bluff.

Clearly, the process is just as rewarding as a potential payout. But, regardless of how a beat or race ends, punters and poker players are in it for the experience. They want to test their knowledge and instinct to develop their skills further.

To do this, it’s pivotal to create a system to manage expenditure to stay within someone’s means. Poker players know the sting of a bad beat, as do punters who bet it all on a favorite who lost to a dark horse. In other words, losing is inevitable—be sure to create a money management plan that takes this into consideration.




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