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Book Review

Six Secrets of Successful Bettors
Winning Insights Into Playing the Horses
By Frank Scatoni and Pete Fornatale
DRF Press, April 2005, hardcover, 288 pages

For most racing fans, betting at the track is recreation. He or she might glance at the entries the night before, arrive at the track, buy a program and/or Racing Form, and bet on one or more tracks hoping to turn a small profit on the afternoon. If such a fan doesn't turn a profit, the loss is considered the cost of entertainment. However, a very small percentage of people make up the vast majority of the betting handle. These professional horseplayers don't look at the game as recreation. To them it is their job, their livelihood. The game is treated more as a business transaction, not unlike stock day-traders and obviously they are making a significant profit from their wagers to be able to earn a living at it full time. Surely the recreational player can learn from these men and women and apply some of their techniques to hopefully follow in their footsteps and turn a consistent profit.

In their new book, Frank Scatoni and Pete Fornatale set out to learn their secrets for the benefit of all horseplayers. They interviewed a number of professional horseplayers, including familiar names such as Andrew Beyer, Roxy Roxborough, and Jim Mazur. They also branched out into other forms of gambling where professional players make a living, interviewing full-time sports bettors, poker tournament champions, and blackjack players. Surprisingly, these men and women were very eager to share their techniques, giving very detailed explanations of what they do to turn a profit every year. Having completed hours of interviews, the authors found six criteria common to all of them, which they define as the Six Secrets.

Each "secret" gets a chapter, and with Scatoni acting as a "moderator" in a "panel discussion", he guides the reader through the direct comments each pro made that points to the secret being discussed. These players came from all walks of life, use vastly different selection techniques, and often differ in wagering strategies, but they all satisfy the six secrets to success. The "secrets" are:

  1. Act as an entrepreneur not a gambler
  2. Make the best use of available resources
  3. Only bet when there is a significant edge
  4. Manage bankroll effectively to maximize advantage
  5. Know how to handicap yourself using effective record-keeping
  6. Effectively handle emotions as well as money

Having read these professionals' comments, the casual player quickly realizes the edge he or she is giving up and hopefully can apply the six secrets to their own game as well. It is worth noting that this book was never intended to be used as a handicapping book. You will not find past performance charts followed by result charts with an explanation of how one leads to the other.

In the final chapter, Scatoni asks the pros for their opinions on some of the latest issues facing bettors today, including rebates, computer betting teams, and betting exchanges. It was interesting to see that these professionals are often on the side of the small-time bettor, including supporting overall lower takeouts for everybody rather than rebates just for themselves.

This is an excellent book for horseplayers considering increasing their level of wagering if not stepping up to professional play. These pros show that it's not as glamourous a life an outsider might perceive it to be, but a worthwhile endeavour for someone with the focus, the drive, and the significant starting bankroll to tackle it. Casual players will find interest in how "the other half" lives, and can learn a lot from them.

Six Secrets of Successful Bettors has a list price of $24.95 and is available from for $16.47.

Rating:     4/5

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