From The Desk Of Michael Pizzolla
May 28, 2010
Las Vegas, Nevada
Dear Handicapper ValueCapper and Friend,
Memorial Day Weekend is upon us, and it's always a mixed blessing for me. Lots of great racing, full cards, all of that. But it's also the annual Member Member tournament at our club. This is where a member pairs with another member for 3 grueling days of alternate shot, better ball, and straight medal play. Being the Las Vegas country club, there's a huge Calcutta, where teams are bought and sold in an auction. While the money is one thing, it's a big pride thing to do well in this event.
So, frankly, my attention is usually split on Memorial Day weekends between racing and golf.
The advice I had on big weekends like this is to pay attention to the run-of-the-mill races, the $10,000 maiden claimers, the low priced open claiming races. Sure, it's fun to get a long price in one of the marquee races, but for pure profit, those 'lesser' races are the key. And for those of you who like to play your 'home' track, believe me I understand that. When I started in this game, I fancied myself an expert at Belmont Park. Knew the track profile and the energy profiles by heart, knew the players, the trainers, the owners. Did pretty well. But what shocked me was when I went to Las Vegas for the first time to play races, and saw the world of simulcasting. It was overwhelming at the time, and was to me an enormous buffet. I was very hungry, and found myself handicapping and betting for 12 hours a day, and couldn't get enough.
The shocking part was how well I did at tracks I knew nothing about. Could it be all of my specific knowledge about a couple of tracks was not as valuable as I thought? I mean the first time I bet a race at Louisiana Downs, I knew nothing about the track other than what my software was showing me. I couldn't be influenced by the 'inside' knowledge I had at Belmont. I thought to myself, ‘Did I really win that much on that race?’ Inevitably on these trips, the big profits came from the tracks I thought I knew nothing about.
The Wizards who are using Black Magic: The Ultimate Handicapper Software™ report this all the time. Those on the Forum can get unlimited data, so they wind up making great calls on races at Indiana Downs, Presque Isle Downs, Will Rogers Downs, and the like. I envy them, because I can't bet them here in Las Vegas, but the advantage they have in being able to cherry pick races from a huge menu is significant.
There's a lesson here, of course, and that is not to fall in love with your track, or your horse, but to look at the game as a wonderful investment opportunity.
Now, I'd like to talk with you a bit about a subject that has become close to my heart over the last years, and one that has the potential to change your life.
I'm talking about computers and the new technology.
I've become a bit of a technology geek, in the area of using computers to learn about things, to connect with people, and, of course, to keep up with the latest in thoroughbred racing. I'm less interested in the programming part of things, or learning the latest language, and all of that, and more about the incredible tools that have become available in the last couple of years that have literally changed the way I work, and the way I learn.
It's been a most interesting journey, an excellent adventure!
Entering the tech age...
You know, I didn't start off knowing much about computers or technology. I remember how excited I was when I got my first laptop, a Zenith behemoth that weighed about 10 pounds, and whose only storage was 2 floppy disks. Then a Radio Shack all in one that was a pretty cool little machine, on which we wrote the code for the first automated adjusted feet per second velocity ratings.
But my pride and joy was the Toshiba laptop with a real, honest-to-goodness hard drive. The laptop cost $2,000 and had a hard drive size of…20 megabytes!
Heck, I've got photo files on my computer that are bigger than that!
But at the time, I didn't think I'd ever fill up those 20 megs.
As I sit writing this on a 17" MacBook Pro with a 512 gigabyte drive and 8 gigs of RAM, I marvel at how far the technology has come and how far I've come as a user of that technology.
Of course, even with the world's largest supercomputer, it's all to no avail in handicapping unless one can evaluate the odds lines (that's lines, plural) and understand not only what your evaluation has come up with in the race, but what the public is likely to do in the race. That's why I've been emphasizing the concept of ValueCapping™ to the Wizards using Black Magic: The Ultimate Handicapper Software™.
Getting back to the tech side, it has amazed me how many of us learned how to use computer technology just to handicap the races! One fellow got so enthralled with the process of using one of our software products way back in the 90s, that he studied and studied, and is now teaching computer science as a professor at a university!
So, I was thinking that one of my outcomes was to see if I could gently nudge those of us, especially those technologically challenged (as I still think of myself) into the new age of technology.
I'm talking about the new media, YouTube, and the social media of Web 2.0.
I know, I know, kid stuff.
Well, I'm not willing to accept that now that I've turned the corner on 50, that I am going to stop learning, and keep doing things the same old way. That's not how I roll.
The numbers on this are staggering. YouTube serves up 2 Billion videos a day. That's billion with a B. That's about 13,000 videos a minute, and it's still growing. YouTube is how many people search for things on the Internet, and is the second largest search engine after Google.
I'm doing a new series of instructional videos on Post Time Daily 2.0, and guess what? I'm going to post them on YouTube, specifically on the Post Time Solutions YouTube channel. The first was a very short introduction, which is on the first page of the website, http://www.posttimedaily.com
Speaking of the website, I just got back from a weekend in San Diego (when Del Mar was not running!) where I attended a seminar on all this internet stuff, and learned a whole lot about what web pages should do. You know, in teaching and supporting Black Magic: The Ultimate Handicapper Software™, I emphasize that the majority of investments in racing should be where the play is simple, clear, and obvious. So, why shouldn't our web pages be like that?
When I looked at our website, it was complicated, cluttered, and not obvious at all. With the help of the Post Time tech wizards, specifically Brian, we've cleaned up the look and made it much easier to navigate.
I hope you'll take a look and let me know what you think, and if you have any suggestions. I will be re doing the Post Time Daily 2.0 Video Tutorials, and if there are any subjects you'd like me to do a video on, I'd really like to hear your ideas. Drop me a line at email@example.com.
I've also been blogging a bit about racing, and have two blogs going: http://www.handicappinghorseraces.com and http://www.michaelpizzolla.posterous.com Again, I'd welcome your feedback on these. I do my best to keep them updated with news and things I think might be interesting to you, so if you have a minute, take a look.
There's also a blog that we're doing in house at Post Time that's about the latest news about horse racing, and that blog is at http://www.posttimedata.com
And shockingly, I've entered the world of Twitter and Facebook.
I've got to tell you, I still don't get these at all. Ok, Twitter is a way to send a quick message to let others know what's going on, and Facebook a way to connect with friends.
It all seems a bit of a mystery to me, but I've opened accounts on Twitter and Facebook to keep you all informed of the latest happenings in racing, Post Time, and Black Magic. Yes, there will be the occasional post about my favorite non-racing subject, Apple Computers, but mostly I Tweet, etc. about what's happening in thoroughbred racing.
I'll be starting a Facebook page soon for Post Time, but in the meantime, you can find me in both Facebook and Twitter under the name Michael Pizzolla.
If you're not already using them, you can set up a free account on Facebook and Twitter, you can search for Michael Pizzolla, and follow me. You can find Facebook at http://www.facebook.com and Twitter at http://www.twitter.com
Then, you'll get notifications and can read about what's going on in racing and my comments about it. Who knows? You might also expand from there and reconnect with old friends, and find a whole new world of communication opening up. (I was shocked when I got a response on Facebook from the woman I took to my senior prom. I hadn't heard from her in decades, and it was really great to catch up about what we had been up to in the last 35 years!)
And you'll be in good company. There are, last I looked, 430 million people using Facebook. It's gotten to the point where young kids are using the word Facebook as synonymous with the Internet. Not, 'I'm going on the Internet', but 'I'm going on Facebook'.
I'll get better at this as time goes on, but for now, I'm happy that the website is getting easier to use, that I know how to put nice looking videos up on YouTube, that I've entered the world of blogging, and I've dipped my toes into the world of social media with Facebook and Twitter.
I keep thinking about the fellow who started learning about computers so he could use our software and wound up teaching computer science at a university. I'm hoping that some of you may be interested enough in learning more about what's happening in racing, and about improving your investments at the race track, that you'll start using these tools for that reason, and perhaps use them for other aspects of your work and personal life.
It will be an interesting journey.
Ok, enough technobabble.
Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any comments or to let me know how it’s going. One of the most gratifying things about doing these Rants is hearing of your progress. I really appreciate the emails and the kind words.
All the best,
Welcome to the Wizards Forum.
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