On Friday, the scenario changed. Over the course of eight races, I watched as he wagered $1500, failing to cash a single ticket. Thus, he had lost money for the first time that I had experienced. Perhaps his winning streak was over, I thought.
Later that night, I reflected upon what I had seen during the past four racing days. Putting things into their proper perspective, I realized this man did not have winning streaks. He had losing streaks interrupted by the occasional win. I also realized that even though he was behind by $65, he did not seem stressed by his loss. That still puzzled me.
There were nine races carded on Saturday, and four of them were won by long shots. The stranger cashed tickets on three of them. One for $23.60, one for $36.40, and one for $27.80; a total of $2195 for the day. The odd thing was, he had only wagered on six of the nine races. Why the sudden change? Why had he passed on three races? I was missing something. However, he wasn’t. He was ahead $930 for the week.
When I looked at the results charts for the day, his reason for passing three races soon became evident. All three races consisted of four and five horse fields, and the odds were not high enough on any of the horses to attract a wager from him.
I had chosen to sit two or three rows away from him while I was observing his habits on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, but decided to see what would happen if I sat near him on Sunday. I chose a seat in the row behind him, just to his right. He could not help but see me when he got up to bet, and I was hoping he would acknowledge my presence. However, he chose to ignore me, content with his routine.
He had two winners on the day; $18.60 and $20.40. After the ninth race, he tore the corners off his losing tickets. He then turned to me and asked, “Have you learned anything yet?”
I was momentarily caught off guard, but eventually responded with, “I’ve learned that you make more money cashing twenty percent of your bets than I do with thirty-eight percent winners. I haven’t figured out how yet, but I have my suspicions.”
“Well, here’s the only clue I’m going to give you. Watch the tote board. Now, stay away from me.”
That would not be hard as that was the last day of my vacation. It was time to go back to work. It was also abundantly clear that I needed to rethink my approach to wagering.