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Turning Poker Players To Horseplayers

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Published: April 23, 2010 9:23 am ET

Last Comment: April 30, 2010 11:59 am ET | 11 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

"There's a strong correlation between the horseplayer and the poker player, we're sort of cut from the same cloth."

On today's Trot Radio, Ajax Downs' Nick Coukos discusses his recent win in a World Series of Poker event and how he feels that horse racing - be it quarter horse, thoroughbreds or harness racing - would benefit from marketing racing to the poker player.

"I think why they're similar is when you're betting on horses you're not necessarily betting against the house...you'll betting against a mutuel pool and you're betting against other bettors," states Coukos. "The same goes for poker."

Coukos has witnessed first hand that poker players will take advantage of betting horse racing even during poker games.

"It's amazing when you go down there, you'll see poker players who are looking up at the screen betting races while they're playing poker. That synergy is important because poker can be a slow game."

Coukos and Trot Radio's Norm Borg discuss how the cerebral aspect of racing is more inclined to attract a poker player than a slot player, and also how poker is extremely popular with a key racing demographic.

"Let's look at poker, most of the major poker tournaments are won by youth," states Coukos, who was likely old enough to be the father of his opponents. "The guys I was playing with were in their twenties...these are the types of guys that have never bet a horse in their life but if we expose racing while they're playing poker, guess what? They're going to try it."

The full nine-minute interview is available below.

Episode 113 - Poker Ace and Ajax Downs' VP of Corporate Affairs Nick Coukos
Running Time: 9:13
Audio Format: MP3 audio
Host: Norm Borg

April 30, 2010 - 11:59 amTo Mike Glatt- Mike i also

John Carter SAID...

To Mike Glatt- Mike i also respect your position buts lets take another look at track takeout. When my horse loses i don't care if the track takeout is 5%, 10% or 100% because the bottom line is your money is gone anyway. Track takeout has no affect on you unless it is on a winning ticket. Now even though you can wait until the odds are in your favor like you say, it just doesn't matter. The bottom line is horseplayers are getting shorted on every ticket they cash.

On win tickets that pay $10.00 the ticket should pay some where between $10.70 to $11.00 if they had a reasonable track takeout. If you are a big player and you have $200.00 or more to win on the horse this adds up. The win ticket that pays $20.00 should pay probably around $21.50. On an exacta that now pays $70.00 the ticket should probably pay between $77.00 to $80.00. The exacta that pays $110.00 should probably comeback at $120.00 to $125.00. If you are holding 10 to 20 exacta tickets this gets very expensive over the course of the year.

It can cost the big players easily tens of thousands of dollars per year. This is what is driving people away from the game, they are getting there pockets picked by the excessive takeout when they cash, when they lose it doesn't matter. Now in other forms of gambling like poker you can also wait until the odds are in your favor by simply tossing your cards away and you are doing it into a much fairer house take, same goes for betting on sports, you can pick a game where you like the odds but are betting into a very reasonable house take. Lets not compare it to lotteries because people have a chance in the large draws at multi million dollar payouts. Unless the race game wises up to this all the big players will eventually be gone.

April 29, 2010 - 1:42 pmTo John Carter: John I

Mike Glatt SAID...

To John Carter: John I respect your position on this but I am not sure that takeout is the b all and end all issue here.
As an example, the theoretcial takeout on scratch and win lottery tickets is approx 36% but I don't see too many people shying away from buying those tickets. The reasons 1)Broad distribution network 2)Instant cash paid on the spot 3) You don't have to think to play.
I don't know what the payout ratio is on the slots as well but I don't believe the vast majority of players in that arena even give any thought to takeout. All they care about is the possibility of a large win and again no thought involved.
Horse racing has so much competition for the gambling dollar (as opposed to many years gone by) that it is almsot inevitable this was going to happen.
The funny thing about horse race betting is you can choose to play when the odds are in your favour which you can't do in most other forms of gambling. The reason of course the vast majority of people don't make money on horse wagering is there inability to manage risk or bet only when the odds are in your favour. I see a significant number of people making multiple exotic wagers not recognizing that based on the total amount bet and the probable return they would have been better off betting that same amount of money on a single horse to win.
For the serious better takeout is a big cause for concern so the horsepeople have to decide if they want to reduce the takeout in the hopes of attracting the large wagerer or expanding the distribution network with a mom and pop store accessible pick six or seven where a quick pick may give you a significant return on your money. The problem of course is the OLG isn't going to let you into their network without a big cut of the action.
Tough problem to solve.

April 29, 2010 - 9:26 amSadly the top management

John Carter SAID...

Sadly the top management people in the race game have no understanding of what excessive track takeout is doing to the wager. Every year it drops approx 10% from the previous year and still they do nothing about it except stomp there feet demanding more handouts because of the sense of entitlement that to many in the industry have instead of being pro-active. They will soon 10% themselves right out of existence.

Forget about turning poker players into race players, they are not that gullible. Last year during the winter months the wager on weg harness dropped on some cards to beneath $700.000 per card, simply unheard of, well in 10 years or less the wager on weg harness will drop to well under $500.000 per card. Yes the industry is on borrowed time. Once the last generation that was brought up on harness racing is to old to go to the track there will be no one to take there place. The powers to be in the race game need to stop pointing the finger at poker and slots and other forms of gambling and point the finger of blame at themselves for not addressing issues such as excessive track takeouts.

April 27, 2010 - 10:06 pmI can't imagine very many

I can't imagine very many poker players would want to bet harness racing, simply because of the takeout. The most glaring example of high takeout was when Georgian Downs had the match race between To Helen Back and Moving Pictures. To Helen Back had odds of $0.50 on the dollar, or 1/2, and Moving Pictures had odds of $0.45 on the dollar, or 2/5, and it was only a 2 horse race! How popular would heads-up poker be if the most you could win was 1/2 on your money, where you would have to win 2 of 3 matches just to break even?

April 26, 2010 - 11:18 pmYears ago i was at a dog

ken myers SAID...

Years ago i was at a dog track in West Virginia they have and still have slots. HERE IS THE KICKER you could at that time play the slot machine and on the slot machine you could change the screen over and bet any race track with voucher or cash then switch the machine back to play the slot machine all this in the same machine... BUT WAIT YOU COULD WATCH THE RACE YOU BET ON ON A LITTLE TV SCREEN IN THE TOP RIGHT CORNER WHILE PLAYING SLOTS. ALSO THEY HAD AT THAT TIME 20 TV CHANNELS TO WATCH ON THE LITTLE SCREEN IF THE SLOTS BORED YOU ( WHEELING DOWNS AS I RECALL ) THAT'S HOW YOU CHANGE SLOT PLAYERS INTO HORSE PLAYERS.

April 25, 2010 - 9:14 pmKevin has it right I play

Kevin has it right I play both I am net up the last 5 years at poker and a big loser at horses it is because of one thing takeout. When Meadowlands and Sam Mckee talked to Dana Panham of Odds on racing as the three hundred million dollar bettor they were very intrigued by his story. They asked him a lot of great thought provoking questions about what he he does almost as if they wanted me to believe I too can beat the races. The questions they never asked were how much are you being rebated and how much is the total takeout on your bets. What this industry will not admit to is that the decision makers and people who could make a difference have never bet 5000 dollars a night at the races which is why they continue to have these insane conversations about the need for bigger fields and "turning poker players into horse players". Excuse me my computer beeped its time to start another sit n go.

April 25, 2010 - 11:10 amThe takeout is a huge

Wayne Martin SAID...

The takeout is a huge factor.Out of my gaming dollars,90% used to go to harness racing and 10% to poker, lotteries, etc.Now it's 95% poker,maybe 3% lotteries and 2% to the horses. Again the takeout is a huge factor,but also the inconsistent racing plays a huge part as well.There might as well be no judges at all.

April 23, 2010 - 3:56 pmLast month it was turning

Last month it was turning lottery players into horse players!This month it's poker players!Next month who knows,hockey fans,chess players!!

In poker,you can bet a 10 thousand dollars on the river card and no one knows what it is till it's turned over.In horse racing,you can bet 10 thousand dollars and the driver OWNS you for the next two minutes.

There is too much control. One week the horse is whipped or urged, the next week the driver walks it down the stretch.

The "dealer button" saved poker. It took the cards out of the players hands. Not too many people today would be playing poker if the other player was always dealing the cards!

The sad reality is,the rest of the world knows horse racing exists,they just choose not to go cause they don't like the game in its present format.

April 23, 2010 - 3:08 pmYou get texas hold em at

john west SAID...

You get texas hold em at woodbine and im there along with one hundred to 2000 maybe more poker players, who will play poker and get exposed to horse racing. THATS A GIVEN!!!!!!!!!!

April 23, 2010 - 11:54 amThere is one major other

There is one major other thing, big events have a grand prize guarantee. That's the main fact why it's so popular and you know at the beginning how much it costs.

April 23, 2010 - 9:50 amThe one major difference

Kevin Jones SAID...

The one major difference between poker & horse racing is the TAKE-OUT!! I can tell you that most poker players realize that too. It's a lot easier for a good poker player to make a decent profit playing poker than it is a "great" handicapper to make a decent profit betting the horses & the take-outs a major part of that.


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