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Bet Like Bukowski


(image: CS Monitor)

In honor of today’s Kentucky Derby, we put together this handy racetrack betting reference sheet. It’s cribbed and abridged from Non-Horseshit Horse Advice, a short story by the writer/drinker/inveterate gambler Charles Bukowski. Take it with you to the local track and bet like Buk, but remember to always take lucky numbers and funny horse names into account.

1) Watch your underlay shots. If a horse is listed on the form at 10 to 1, but then shows up for the race running 6 to 1, they’re an underlay. Whenever the odds are changed in the horse’s favor, you will probably get a good run for your money. And the opposite applies.  If a horse’s printed odds change and suddenly pay out much more, then lay off. “Money is much more serious than anything else,” Bukowski explains. “Money in American society is more serious than death and you hardly get anything for nothing.”

2) Only bet when you can lose. “I mean that without ending up sleeping on a park bench or missing 3 or 4 meals. The main thing, get the rent down first. Avoid pressures. You will be luckier.”

3) Bet medium long. “If you know little or next to nothing about racing… hold your bets between 7 to 2 and 9 to 1. If you must indulge in wild fancies, keep your bets between 11 to 1 and 19 to 1. In fact, many 18 or 19 to 1’s bounce in if you can find the right ones.”

4) Remember: everybody thinks that he has the key to beating the thing. “But actually, a man can never know enough about horse racing or anything else. Just when he thinks he knows he is just beginning.”

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