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Robert L. Bacon and The Law of Ever-Changing Cycles
Few players take into consideration the principle of ever-changing cycles of results. The would-be professional player must always understand that the form moves away from the public’s knowledge. -- Robert L. Bacon, Secrets of Professional Turf Betting
Familiarity with the law of ever-changing cycles, expressed for the first time by the racetrack bettor Robert L. Bacon, is the keystone of modern speculation. Unfortunately, Bacon's Secrets of Professional Turf Betting (Brattleboro, Vermont, Amerpub Co., 1956) has long been out of print. In the early Naughties, sightings were rare, and we can lay a modest claim to this state of affairs, as we cited Bacon extensively in Education of a Speculator and Practical Speculation, as well as in our columns. The situation changed for the better with the growth of the Internet; in February 2006, Jean Paul Schmetz, founder of the used-book search engine www.abebooks.com, told us that copies are to be found there at reasonable prices.
Until some wise publisher issues a reprint, we are pleased to offer some pertinent excerpts from Chapter 5, “The Principle of Ever-Changing Cycles.”
The beginner plunges ahead on a favorite that loses, then bets lightly on a fair-priced horse that wins. He keeps switching amounts and positions, so that he never has a worthwhile bet on a winner at a worthwhile price. He is always one race behind the form of a horse and several races behind the rhythm of the results sequences.
There is no danger of the public ever finding any key to the secret of winning. The crazy gambling urge and speculative hysteria that overcomes most players at the track makes that fact a certainty. But, if the public play ever did get wise to the facts of life, the principle of ever-changing cycles of results would move the form away from the public immediately.
The principle of ever-changing trends works to force quick and drastic changes of results sequences when the public happens to get wise to a winning idea.
The public can never catch up to the form – or the game ceases.
Some amateur players carry inconsistency to such a degree that they demand consistency from the horses, while at the same time being utterly inconsistent in their methods of play. It’s not the races that beat these players – it’s the switches!
Racing is simple. Everything about the game is logical and common sense and elementary. All the figures and the mathematics and the mechanics of racing can be understood by a child in junior-high school. But the game is decked out in an endless number of minor contradictions and open switches and deadfall traps, in order to lure the average player into doing everything wrong.
If the average player – the public play – kept out of all these switches and traps, then the powers-than-be would have to make the game far more complicated in order to insure the fact that the majority of players continue to lose and thus continue to furnish money to keep up the game.
The amateurs who play so carelessly and who fall into all the wrong switches do not stop to consider the percentages of their rightful losses. When an amateur goes to the track and loses nine bets (eight races and a daily double) and loses all his capital for the day, he has lost many times what the percentage calls for. He has no right to lose so much. It’s almost as if he did it on purpose!
Look at the percentages. For example, suppose the track’s total legal “take” is 10%. If so, a blind play on the Number One Post, Number Eight Post, or any mechanical designation, an ONLY lose 10% per race, over a period of time.
The player who bets eight races and a daily double a $2 each is not entitled to lose all his money – on average. He is only entitled to lose 20 cents per race if the take is 10%. The balance of his losses are ON PURPOSE, as it were. They are losses caused by his stepping into all the switches and traps.
Any system is better than no system at all. But, of course, we are not studying here to play any senseless systems or methods.
In actual racing, the percentage of winners does not remain constant as the public’s play beats down the prices of horses picked by any set scheme.
Some well-to-do horsemen who sent their horses out to do their best for probable betting prices of 3-to-1 “cooled off” as the prices sank below 5-to-2. Instead of trying their hardest to win, they sent the horses out to win, if they could win easily. But the boys were told not to punish the animals, told to pull them back out of the money in the stretch if they saw an easy winning was not possible.
The horsemen knew that this pulling back out of the money would make a bad race show as the last outing in the past performance charts, thus putting the public off the horse for next time.
But there is no use kidding: The professionals keep out of switches by waiting for the sound overlay spots. They don't play the bad races at both ends of the daily programs. They don't play bad races -- period! When they feel the least bit of doubt, they walk away from the mutuel windows and step into the bar for a leisurely drink that will last until a better spot comes along. (p. 27, 1975 edition)
Bring Home the Bacon, by James Sogi, Esq.
Dr Niederhoffer says in Education of a Speculator, "I consider Bacon's Secrets one of the best books I've ever read." He reviews it in Chapter 9. But there are few secrets the good Doctor didn't reveal. So here it is, in plain language, a key to successful speculation.
These professionals win because they know the 'inside' principle of beating the races, the same principle that must be used to beat any speculative game or business from which a legal 'take', house percentage, or brokerage fee is extracted. That principle is "COPPER" THE PUBLIC'S IDEAS AND PLAY AT ALL TIMES! That is not abstract theory -- it is practical percentage.
Bacon on Racing: Quotes from the Master Turf Bettor, Forwarded by Peter Gardiner
But there is no use kidding: The professionals keep out of switches by waiting for the sound overlay spots. They don't play the bad races at both ends of the daily programs. They don't play bad races -- period! When they feel the least bit of doubt, they walk away from the mutuel windows and step into the bar for a leisurely drink that will last until a better spot comes along. (p. 27)
I don't want to be like Pittsburgh Phil and win a million dollars at the races. I'd just like to grind out $25 a day for myself without any risk!
How many times have you heard something like that from turf fans who were trying to be "conservative" at racing?...Oh Brother! You can add this "grind" idea to the long list of other unsound notions held by the public play.... One sure thing that a smart player engraves deeply into his skull, is the fact that you MUST speculate at the races. You CAN'T grind!
The player at the races can't grind or chisel because [that girl] is taken. The racetrack has all grind and chisel privileges! The mutuel take and the breakage add up to a percentage that continually grinds and chisels the betting money...The grind privileges are spoken for and taken, so the professional bettor must speculate. The mutuel grinding only goes one way - against the bettor. But any percentage can be overcome by enough winners at fat enough prices!
Fortune favors the speculator over the grinder because of the plain old arithmetical percentages. The speculator has a percentage chance to win. The grinder has no chance.
To beat the percentage of the mutuels, the player must ALWAYS have an overlay. He must always have an extra percentage in his favor, to counteract the "take" percentage. Forget about this idea of "grinding out a day's pay." If you want to make a day's pay at the races, get a job watering horses, or pitching manure into trucks. But never try to grind it out of the mutuels. (op cit, p. 83-89)
You Must Speculate -- You CAN'T GRIND!
Speculative Writings on Ever-Changing Cycles