I was recently talking to a good friend of mine who is a thoroughbred race-goer. We were discussing the sport and, as is often the case with us, the topic turned to handicapping. I casually asked how he rated the jockeys at various tracks. His immediate response was, “Good at betting on horses? I would say they are excellent.” I told him that they were probably my type of people. In other words, I said they were probably smart, funny, and confident enough to know what they are talking about.
Now, my friend is an excellent jockey. He has been riding for years and has won numerous races. One of the reasons why he is so good is that he understands the psychology of the horse. He knows how to read the form, study the track, and use his experience to his advantage. Even more impressively, he seemed to have an instinctive feel for what makes a good horse and what makes a bad one. He was able to articulate, with ease, the differences between the two.
However, this is not common among all racing enthusiasts. In fact, many people who love the sport do not have a good understanding of the mental side of the game. They may know how to place a bet or what the most prevalent races might be, but that is essentially all they know about handicapping. For the most part, they are not good at predicting which horse will win a given race. This is mainly because they do not have enough experience to properly assess a race without risking more than they could lose.
Luckily for them (and us) there are experts in the field who can help. One of the most well-known names in the business is Mike Emmel, commonly known as “The Professor”. The Professor has been teaching people how to bet on horses for over 40 years and has authored numerous books on the subject. He even has a YouTube channel where he often covers betting strategies specifically for handicappers. You can view and subscribe to his channel here.
Since I have been asked by so many people to write an article explaining what the “Professor” thinks are the qualities of a successful handicapper, I decided to do some research and see what I could find. I reached out to Mike Emmel and asked him a set of questions about what it takes to be a successful handicapper. Here is the interview:
How Do You Measure Success As A Handicapper?
Well, I would say the key to being a successful handicapper is to first and foremost be happy with what you are doing. It is not about making a lot of money, it is about being able to use your skills to help others. Next, you need to maintain a good attitude even when things do not go your way. There will always be another race coming up and you need to be confident that you can learn from your mistakes and apply what you have learned. This is not some impossible feat; this is simply good sportsmanship. Finally, you must have a good feeling about yourself. Even when things are going really well, you must have that “little voice” in the back of your head telling you that you could be better. That is what makes a successful handicapper. They have confidence in their abilities and understand that there is always more to learn. They do not get discouraged when things do not go their way because they know that this is a learning experience and they will get better with time. This is what makes them better than others. A successful handicapper can always find something to improve on and for the most part, they are driven by a desire to help others succeed as much as they want to succeed themselves.
What Makes A Good Handicapper?
I would say that the ability to read the form is essential. This means being able to pick out the important factors that will affect the outcome of the race. For example, knowing that the track is a muddy one will help you know what kind of shoes the horse will need and, perhaps, whether or not it is a good idea to bring him/her out for this particular race. Obviously, experience is also important, but knowing how to analyze a race without having prior knowledge of the outcome is an important skill to have. In addition, you need to be confident in your abilities and have a good attitude regardless of the outcome. Of course, some people are just better at it than others and this is usually measured by how much they win. Finally, you must have a good feeling about yourself. Even when things are going well, you must have that “little voice” in the back of your head that tells you that you can do better. This is the kind of person I would say is a good handicapper. They are: