What a thrill it was for me to (hello and) welcome the new NHC Tour champ Dave Gutfreund for his first ever visit to the podcast. In an incredible run, Gutfreund won five tournaments in the second half of 2018 to deny Paul Shurman’s bid at becoming the first-ever two-time Tour king.
We talk honestly about his feelings about the racing industry and get into the difference in how he approaches tournaments from that of most people. Check it out!
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***Please note this was done with AI and likely contains errors and inaccuracies. ***[00:00:00] Your listening to the, in the money players podcast. Hello, and welcome to the, in the money players podcast. This is show number seven, the Tuesday, January 15th edition. However, we are recording this the day before on Monday the 14th. I’m your host, Peter Thomas foreign, a towel back with you in a very.
Chile, very chilly Brooklyn bunker. I sent out the picture. That’s totally legit. I’ve got like six layers on. I don’t know what’s going on. Thankfully I do have Mugsy the handicapping Labrador lying on my feet for extra warmth. That’s definitely helping. And we have a very special guest. Every guest who comes on the show is special, especially for the hour.
They’re here with us today, though. Somebody I’ve been meaning to talk to on air for a long time. [00:01:00] And what a story he has, we’re going to get to him in a minute. First off. However, we’re going to introduce the co-host of this program. He’s been traveling around. He’s been going to couple showers and watching football and eating hot wings.
He’s the people’s champion. Jonathan kitchen. JK what’s up? Absolutely. Just got back from Houston. A lot of, a lot of fun this weekend, honoring the. The Prince of keen linen is a bride to be, so we had a good time hanging out. Uh, he’s got a crazy, crazy crew of friends from back in Houston. So, uh, always fun.
Wouldn’t that be the princess of Keeneland? I mean, if we’re just going to keep along with the same type of nomenclature. I think you’re right. And also the princess of druthers by extension. All right. I always introduce J K as the people’s champ. The, some of, you know, the story behind it, J K a former N H C tour champion.
I used to work at this little publication with the three letters, right. And we were partners with [00:02:00] the NHC slash NTRA for many years in the immediate. Aftermath of their breakups. See, not all breakups are as amicable as mine with DRF in the immediate aftermath of the breakup between the NTRA and the DRF.
There were some tensions and I thought maybe it wasn’t the smartest or best in the world for me at the top of every show to say, and here’s a former NTRA NHC tour champion, Jonathan kitchen. And thus, he became. The people’s champion. And of course the people do love him. So it’s only slight hyperbole there, but I am very proud to introduce the latest and HC tour champion to the airwaves.
And I am talking about Dave Dave, how are you? My friend. Definitely not the people’s champion that’s for sure. Um, depends which people I’m 12 hours removed from getting knocked out of the poker tournament, four people away from making the national televised final table. [00:03:00] So believe it or not, despite having a pretty good weekend, I’m a little bit flustered at the moment.
Some frustration about not playing that final table today, but yeah, life is, uh, from, uh, Certainly the perspective of the tour and this miracle that’s happened. It’s pretty unthinkable remarkable. There’s so many adjectives you could describe like that. It’s just, it’s totally insane. It is insane. And we’ll start from the beginning for folks who don’t know.
I’ll ask it this way. How long ago was it Dave that on Twitter and to your friends privately in life, you announced your retirement essentially from, I don’t think it was just contest. I thought it was racing in general. When did that happen? It was mostly racing in general and I don’t think I ever stopped playing contests even for last year’s NHC, which I did not play.
And I did try and qualify at Hawthorne over [00:04:00] Thanksgiving and. Over new year’s. So I did try and qualify for the NHC, the most recent NHC that I did not participate in, but you’re talking, I think about a video that was recorded at the world series of poker. A couple of years back, it was summer of 2017, shortly after the results of a certain lawsuit that.
I was involved in as a businessman. And I think a lot of the issues regarding me, uh, in horse racing, you gotta separate them as two different topics. Me as a tournament player, a and me as a businessman, trying to come into the horse racing industry as B and a lot of my bitterness stems from, uh, the businessman aspect of trying to get involved in the horse racing and in horse racing.
I don’t want to pick at the scab, but you brought it up. I think we do need to talk about it [00:05:00] at this point. Where are you on the entrepreneurial side? Are you still involved in any way, shape or form at Derby Wars or is this something that’s totally behind you and you have anything to get off your chest?
As far as the law you were referring to? I invested in a horse racing labs eight years ago. Um, we own horse racing nation, as well as own Derby Wars. I still, as far as I know, I’m still a shareholder. Let’s just put it this way. I, I course racing nations is a pretty, you know, known media outlet right now. I own a piece of it.
And. Let’s just say a nobody from horseracing nation has contacted me during this little run that I’ve had over the past couple months. It’s been a very disappointing and bitter experience in every way, shape or form. I have [00:06:00] basically zero to do with what’s going on with Derby Wars at this point on any sort of day-to-day basis.
The people that I. Was working with there, the game manager, Matt and Brad are no longer there. And I literally have nothing. It’s sad. It really is that it’s gotten to this, but I have, I have literally nothing to do with it. You know, I hope for the best, you know, maybe someday I’ll see a return on my investment.
Uh, from eight years ago, six figure investment and it just hasn’t happened. And there have been, um, walls. Placed in front of our company, uh, from, within the industry. And it was a real eyeopening experience. Uh, and that that’s that’s about as far as is I can and should go in this particular forum. So Dave, so you, you, you had your retirement and, uh, [00:07:00] congratulations.
Hey, welcome. Welcome to the club. Thank you. It’s a nice club to be in. I got a nice little message from Mr. Sandra, welcoming you to the cup club over the weekend. Um, club. I never thought I was going to make it and do that’s for damn sure. What, uh, now that you mentioned it, what brought you back? I mean, I know that you weren’t playing a lot early in the year, trying to qualify you.
You hopped into the race at the quarter pole, uh, the summer, and obviously, uh, And, and, and, and looked like midnight loot there late. What, what, what kind of brought you back? What was the decision behind that? Well, I was never out of retirement from playing the NHC, so I’m wanting to qualify by looking at the NHC and we can talk about this.
Perhaps later, but it’s, to me it’s a $2 million free role. I’m not playing generally the online games, you know, places like Hawthorne, the, the other places where I won tournament’s Monmouth metal lands, low style, they run really nice tournaments. They add the [00:08:00] spots it’s for somebody that sees themselves as a perceived value whore.
Those tournaments are terrific opportunities to get into the NHC and, um, I was never really retired from playing big tournaments. Now I very rarely bet real money. These days, my participation on a day-to-day basis on my phone accounts far less than what it used to be. I have no passion for the sport.
Anyway, at this point anymore, it’s been cut out of me. It’s been stomped on, but I never stopped. Point tournaments. And I did want to qualify for the NHC. So I played a Turnitin at low Sal after the world series and go into some Cubs games with Chaffey. Didn’t win, won a tournament in late July. Then I played another tournament in the middle of September at the Meadowlands, and I won that and I was double qualified and I was happy.
I was like, great. I got my two entries. Going to Vegas. I was done for the [00:09:00] air. As far as the tour, I had never played it. I had never chased it. I’d never participated it to the point where I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Point wise as the whole process was unwinding. I had no idea how points work.
I was so naive. So just not knowing about any of this stuff. And then after I won that whole, the word tournament, which I played to win a second million dollar bonus to build some confidence after a rough stretch. And, uh, there was some spite involved regarding an invitational contest that I wasn’t invited to at Hawthorne in the earlier in the year.
And I wanted to remind a certain John Wall step, you know, I still exist and I’m still good at these things. I won the tournament after Thanksgiving and Stevie Wilson comes up to me afterwards or during the contest, when I have deleted, he’s like, you’re going to chase them. I’m like, no, I got my $2 million bonuses.[00:10:00] I’m done. And something, or something happened that night or the day after a couple of other people asked me about the tour and I just clicked on the N N E C site, the NTRA site. And I looked at Paul Sherman scores. And by the way, I need to just stop for one moment. What a year for Paul Sherman. Um, part of what makes this special for me winning the tour is defeating the legend, running down a hall of Famer and all time.
Great. And, um, it’s something that I’ll always cherish. Um, Because of just how great he’s been and how important he’s been. But I clicked on Paul’s scores. I clicked on foot lamps scores. I kicked out quick on Karen Carey score and I see all of a sudden, my three, three thousands of like, Well there, those are hard pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
And then I start examining what the second half of the tool [00:11:00] is like, and I need basically two scores to get a BCB CBCC and I feel like all of a sudden, if I’m not playing the tour for the rest of the campaign, I’m pissing away. Equity I’m blowing. I’m just throwing away money. I’m throwing away. It shifts to do something.
And when I made the decision to play the remainder of the live contest at that point, which were two mama’s contest, one at low, sell two at Hawthorne, and then the five seventy-five dollar points chasing contest. I just was hoping, uh, it’ll pick up a BCPC seat, maybe squeak into the top five, get into the top 20 and pick up a few bucks.
And what happened since then? It’s just ridiculous, insane. A miracle of all miracles. So many things. Had to go right. To get me to where I got to [00:12:00] all five ones. If any of those wins are seconds went out, talking today and the hardest results I got were the two thirds in the online contest. I don’t know how that happened.
No, no idea at all. First online MHC, qualifier, I play in a decade. I finished third out of three 70. How does that happen? Let’s keep it going with this thought process. I love the evolution of, okay, well now I got to stick around for the BCBC seat. Now, maybe I can get into the top five. What is the moment where it switches and you think maybe I can win this thing.
Two moments. One of them at Monmouth park. When I think it was breaking the rules. I forget the name of the shag horse that won the tropical park Derby. The last race. Is it breaking the rules? Yes. Ironic name for me to chore with that just [00:13:00] hit me. When I breaking the rules was in the midst of getting a perfect trip and I’m standing next to Palmer teas at minus.
That was the point I knew I was in the lead, but I know I got Paul Sherman chasing me and he’s got literally five chances to win a tournament and break my heart. So I never felt comfortable. You know, I had the moment at mama’s where I let out a lot of emotion and I let it go. When they posted the results at Monmouth.
That moment I will remember. But the other moment that I felt like I’d won the tour, I felt really good about it was last Sunday night after the San Anita tournament. And I knew that Paul basically needed to win a 600 person online tournament where he put your picks in, in advance. Yeah, he’s got three and threes.
Yeah, he’s awesome. But it’s hard to win and I’m [00:14:00] like 99% and last week was torture. It was freaking torture because I was so close and it was so supposed to happen at that point. And if it had been taken away, it would have been just so. Painful. It was, I was like living in a hole. Paul tweeted at me last week.
Jokingly Russ makes a comment about making a deal and I can’t even bring myself to respond about it. Oh, that’s too funny. You quoted Tom petty on Twitter. As I recall, you were certainly relating to that idea of the weighting being the hardest part. Oh, that that boy had, like I say last week was just it’s.
So it’s easier being the chaser than the chasee, you know, at least you, you, you know what to do, you you’re sitting there. You’re just like, I mean, I was at there sweating Paul’s horses and he’s got Stony Bennett in the [00:15:00] first race and he’s got he’s one of the 72 people. That’s got the $20 winner to start with and like eats of his next lunch shops.
I’m watching them and there’s this. Pit in my stomach. There’s this just like, Oh, let it be over with and the NDA and the, I know the math is against them and I know how hard it is, but I knew how hard it was for me to be in the spot that I was in. So anything can happen. I guess, Dave, what, uh, for everyone who’s listening.
Claris up? What, what, what bonuses are you playing for now? Like you must be playing for $5 million. I’m playing for a whole lot of money. Um, I think they’re good folks at the NCRA are going to market me as being a plan for 6.8. Million dollars. They might even say 6.9 million. If they kick in the a hundred K from the [00:16:00] tour I am eligible for and both of my entries and, uh, by virtue of Hawthorn offering the winners of their contest, a million dollar bonus, I was already all eligible for a million dollar bonus on both of my entries.
Before the tour, when, and now the tour, when I guess we wouldn’t have to pick one of the entries and entry a will be available for a $6 million bonus and that three B pour entry B, we’ll just be having that $1 million bonus and eventually being wins. You know, I’m going to have to live the rest of my life, wondering with a million $0.80 that what I could have done differently if I’d made that one decision on eight versus.
But, you know, I guess though, the mental gymnastics that I was trying to avoid by going out to Hawthorne and when that second million dollar bonus, now I am going to have to deal with for $5 million bonus. Should that come to pass Dave, we’re going to break out the world’s [00:17:00] smallest violin. If you only win the $1 million bonus, you and you, and a lot of other people.
And, uh, it’s funny, uh, They’re on G Jonathan they’re out haters and the trolls. Ooh, I haven’t seen.
I hope you don’t take this as trollish, but maybe this is the type of thing that is being asked of you. I had this on my difficult questions list and I just going to hit you with it for somebody who’s brand new. And they bring me the, bring the, the whole West concern for someone who’s been such a vocal critic.
Of the NTRA of the NHC. Is there any part of you that thinks it’s hypocritical to spend so much time and mental energy, money and emotional energy chasing this tour in the end? How do you reconcile your own complex [00:18:00] feelings about the event with the experience you’re going through right now? My first thought has to do with.
I hate to say it like this myself. I’m 57 years old. Pretty darn unemployable in the world of horse racing, which is, you know, the only place I really have any expertise other than maybe a modicum of expertise in poker at this point, but I’m unemployable and I need to make money. And the equity opportunity that came up with a tour, it was just like, I’m not into taking hundred dollar bills and throwing them out the window.
I’ve never. I’ll say it again. I’ve never stopped participating in the NHC. I’ve, I’m S I’m somewhere near the top all the time in the scoring list. I was second all time going into last year’s NHC, which I did not participate in. I’ve been, uh, [00:19:00] I think a important part of the NHC from before it even started to the par fact where, when they had a sports illustrated writer on board to write about the NHC Mark Beech tagged along with me at the MGM grand, when it was on ESPN, I was part of the.
Broadcast team for ESPN when the NAC was out of the Iran. Rippy one on the one hand, I would say my Prince, a lot of my criticism of the NHC is based at it from a player standpoint. It’s somebody that wants to see the NHC better as somebody that cared about the NHC and wants the NHC better now, separately.
It’s so I’ve been a vocal critic forever about the online NHC qualifies. They stink for players, but players at some point. Got to [00:20:00] take their own responsibility. They’ve been treated like a captive audience by the NCRA forever, and yet they keep playing and they keep knowingly and willingly participating in these games that are bad deals for them.
I mean, you can see it on the HorsePlayers website when they see the value of at NHC packages, $9,260. And you can see it when, you know, you play in a live event and they see the value of an NHC seat is 3,500 or 4,000, but people continue wanting to play for the 9,000 package when it’s the same as the 3,500 package.
And without the people, without the players contributing to the online, which makes DNA see kit from a financial standpoint. There’d be no $2 million price pool. If the players didn’t [00:21:00] allow themselves to get taken advantage of and consider you to be stupid and play the online games. So there’s a lot of blame to go around and as a player, As somebody whose job it is to be a perceived value or in the world of tournament, whether they’re being poker or horse racing, the area C is an annual opportunity for me to make money.
Heck three years ago, I cast for almost six figures there. The LHC for me as a player is a great opportunity every year. It’s one that I’ve well, I welcome. It’s one that I’ve been a part of for 20 years and the only block of mine on a certain resume. Is, I’ve never participated in a tour and they’re blocks over by the way.
And yes, I talked to you about, I am bringing up maybe one of your other tough questions, but so it is complicated. Where I stand with [00:22:00] you at HC in the NCRA and then it was a businessman I would be experienced from what I dealt with with Derby Wars, with dealing with the NCRA. And let’s us say Derby Wars did not get treated well by the NCRA.
I’m not saying anything that is down any tail that I’m saying out of bed or anything like that. So. I have issues with the NCRA as to how they treated Derby worse. I am issues with the NCRA, I’ve be blatantly take advantage of a public that allows themselves to be taken advantage of, but the public and in part, because the, how the players committee is allowed it to happen.
The players also have, you know, the ones that are. Continuing to play $165 a week. There’s great things about me winning this darn tour, but without question, the efficiency in which I did it with is gotta be talked about, and I’m proud [00:23:00] of it. 11 live bank road tournaments, 23. Buy-ins in those 10 weeks. Two one with three turning five of those 23 bank rolls.
Five of the 11 tournaments in the wins. No seconds, no thirds right out of the Andy buyer book. Perfect result. Line wins. No zero, no places, no shows. And by the way, I will add speaking of the legend, that is Mr. Buyer. One of the 20 to one shot winners that helped me win this tort low sale was a Z pattern horse, a class V pattern horse.
I may digress. I also, and then I played only five online tournaments, five of the $75 online tournaments, three entries in four, one, two, and threes. And two, I’m glad to say I didn’t play. Once I hit the top, I stopped playing online qualifiers. I played and I had every reason to play, [00:24:00] uh, the last live slash online tournament that was held in a West coast race track.
Uh, and. For last Sunday and I did not play that. I did not. So I understand some, you know, the Charlie Davis’s of the world saying that I sold my soul to the devil
I understand. And you know what, Pete, his heart’s in the right place. As far as I’m concerned here, you know, I talked to Garrett, uh, at Hawthorne, we text quite a bit, you know, we have the Derby worst connection together, and I think some, sometimes people misinterpret. Passion for negativity and what people care about something.
When people want things to be better, they speak out about it. They want it to be [00:25:00] better. And. I know Garrett, definitely. When he came to me in this tour, things he’s on my side. He was one of the first to congratulate me on Saturday. And, um, no, I don’t think he would have done it if he was in my shoes.
Maybe he’s got, you know, he’s got more money than I do or something he can afford to be stubborn like that. I can’t, well, there’s so much to unpack from what you’ve said, just to keep people on point. It’s a couple of things you said in there, Dave, that they may or may not be following Garrett. Of course, Garrett schema, greatest live bank player of all time, actually one.
That contest you were referring to at Santa Anita that you declined to play in your decline in participation. Now this is just me guessing, and you correct me, had nothing to do with why I’ll just come out and say it. I, um, the lawsuit, I took the lawsuit real hard, real personal. I had to write a check after the lawsuit and I [00:26:00] ain’t stepping foot in the TSG track and participating in any TSG stuff until things change.
Period. And to me that shows that your, you are a person of your, of your principles. It’s, it’s a little bit different. I don’t know. I don’t get the idea of like being a sellout. I think it’s interesting and worthy of discussion that someone who’s such a vocal critic would choose to play. I think you made the exact.
Your explanation makes complete and total sense to me, it’s a financial decision. You, you can’t leave money on the table when it’s, when it’s there for the taking. And I also take the point that someone can be very critical of something, maybe to a point where it’s almost comical to me and not referring to you, but some of the other people we’ve talked about at times, but still they do that.
Not because there’s darkness in their soul, but because they want things to be better and maybe their way of expressing their problems [00:27:00] or issues, isn’t what I would choose. But it’s their prerogative as. Human beings to express their feelings in their way. And it doesn’t necessarily make anybody a bad person.
I do want to loop back to what your point, especially your point where you include the players in the blame. It is the players podcast after all. I just want to point out that while you are someone who is. Grinding for a living, a lot of horse players, a lot of the people playing in the NHC. I mean the vast majority, 98% of them or something are not in that position.
They’re recreational. And for them who don’t necessarily have the opportunity to travel to tournaments, even though the value isn’t necessarily they’re playing online. I don’t think it’s crazy in terms of the convenience for the experience. And that’s where I see the world differently than you and Garrett, [00:28:00] when it comes to the NHC.
I agree with you guys completely. If I’m looking for an investment in horse, race, betting and contest betting, that is for me, the way I play, not. It. However, I don’t judge somebody who wants to get there for the experience. It’s the closest thing we have to a horseplayer convention. Uh, no offense to our friends at a Quester con who are doing their thing, but in terms of a horseplayer convention, that’s now been around for 20 years and you go, and you can have a great time and be with like-minded people I can see and respect getting the worst of it a little bit.
Maybe, maybe not a little bit getting the worst of it a lot financially. To be able to participate in that event. And then to flip over to, as you refer to our friends at the NTRA side, if people are willing to pay it, I, I guess I just don’t have that big a problem with them charging it. Do do you think I’m a horrible sellout for my point of view?
I just want you to comment on that. I don’t [00:29:00] think first of all, it’s somebody who spoke on behalf of the NHC at the symposium in Tucson before. The NHC existed. I was invited there by the late Jeff Saltman, who needs to be at the NHC hall of fame. Great idea. Great idea. This tournament was designed as a give back.
The horse players, as an appreciation for horse players, it wasn’t designed as a way to make out Waldrop’s $400,000 salary. It wasn’t designed as a way to, um, Take advantage of the HorsePlayers that you’re supposed to be showing appreciation for and for supporting the business. So the spirit of what the NHC, how it was created, it was not created as a for-profit event for a [00:30:00] nonprofit organization.
That would be my response to that powerful and, and, and compelling and interesting stuff to think about JK going to bring you back in here as a player who I know loves the NHC as an event, but it’s also somebody who likes to bet with value. How do you reconcile my point of view with what the w w with, with the, the very interesting points that Dave is making well, and I never get offended by, by, by people charging.
Know, I know a lot of people get mad when like Uber surgeon’s like, it doesn’t make me mad. Like if we’re paying for it, then they’re right, right. So yeah, I do get where Dave’s coming from. I think that a lot of guys, um, and, and to your point as well, probably participate online. Cause that’s their convenience.
I guess the argument that I would make and the argument that I’ve made and players’ committee meetings and talking about talking with the NTRA staff about different topics, it’s like, well, what would happen if the online game was priced at the same level as the live. Would the online [00:31:00] game show growth, would we have more people participating?
Would people be able to stick around longer and to play more? I I’m not, I’m not, uh, uh, uh, uh, you know, I’ve never acted to be like I’m Marshall Graham when it comes to getting the answers to those questions. It’s just a question to ask, but I’m not totally offended when, when someone decides to do that, I just prefer to not do it.
But, um, you know, but, but I’m glad there’s 600 guys that play in the contest. And if we’re being Frank, I think Dave will agree. I’m glad that three of them, 300 of them aren’t capable of winning it. Uh, it’s a great opportunity for players like us, that, that try to take it a little bit more seriously. Just to underline what JK saying, he, that you’re saying you declined to participate in the online events as well for you as a player, because the value isn’t there, but you don’t judge people.
Yeah. It’s not only the, the value is a big part of that. Right. Um, and, and when you, when you win the tour, you usually have to play a lot online. Like Dave said, he deserves a lot of credit for the way that he. The the way that he nimbly, [00:32:00] uh, worked his way through it without having to play online as much.
But you typically have to. And at the end of the year, when you look back on it, you realize that man, it’s hard to win those contests and the style in which I play. I know we joke a lot about how much chalk I play, but it’s a real thing. I can’t win those one in 60 contests. It’s hard for me to win them.
And so for my game, the way that I play, as well as the financials that Dave mentioned earlier, I don’t play in the online ones, but I’ll play in every live one that you have. You can put a live one in. And, uh, Guatemala I’d show up flight benefits to Guatemala. I like it, Dave, another tough one. So I think that we, there there’s so much commonality between the way that the three of us on this podcast, the vision that we would have, if we were allowed to just unilaterally make changes, I think there’d be a lot of commonality between the way that the three of us would do it.
Our approach, typically JK and myself is to try to play as much as possible, [00:33:00] uh, on the inside of things. JK mentions he’s, uh, a member of the players committee over at the, at the NTRA trying to help the event from your point of view, as more at this point, anyway, someone who was more of an insider now more of an outsider, I’ve seen you tweet more than once.
Something to the effect of, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Do you think J K and I, with our more inclusive approach, whatever you want to call it, do you think part of the problem? That’s, that’s a loaded question. So many let’s first of all, Keep in mind, I was on a player’s panel back after the 2002 breeders breeders cup fiasco.
And if somebody wanted to say at this point that I’m not a part of the solution, because I’m on the outside looking in that’s true. And I just want to go. Use a different term, different terms. You use the term insider and [00:34:00] outsider. I’m going to, you go run all rustling on you. I used to be a face and now I’m mostly considered a heel.
Um, I would say that. P U S since you asked the question, I would say your time with the DRF, you and I had some private conversations when you got hired. I would say that you’ve been a part of the problem that you promoted Vienna when you were working for DRF and DRF had the NTRA that you kind of turned a blind eye to the.
Bad value. And you led some people down the path of playing online. I would say in that, I would say for that you are guilty of doing the job you were paid to do. I can accept that. I mean, I will say, and if you go back and read in the winning contest player, I say very explicitly from day one, and this is a line I got from no one.
Other than [00:35:00] Paul Sherman himself, that in my promotion of the NTRA for as long as I did it in my role at DRF, I was always very clear. The NHC for me, it’s about the event. It’s not about the value. And so that, that is why as a, someone, I consider myself a horseplayer advocate and, and I sleep like a baby, knowing that, um, that I don’t feel like I was ever, like, you have to do this because your money’s in good.
Th th there’s there’s lines that I will not cross of things that I will say, even in marketing speak and I’d put the line there, but having been, and having loved the event and having seen how many casual players show up there and have a great time. It’s not like. People are leaving. They’re feeling like they, they had a bad experience.
And I guess I just feel like that’s the, a little bit of a disconnect between a professional player’s mindset, which you have, and more of an enthusiast mindset, who I think are most of the people who are, [00:36:00] who, who go to that event? Is that a, is that a fair defense of myself? That is, that is, I think that’s a good assessment of, you know, there is definitely, there are definitely players at the NHC that are more serious and, uh, the vast majority, however, casual recreational weekend horse players.
Uh, so I, most of the tournaments are on the weekends. You’re right. They do have a great experience. It’s the only one and everybody who goes, seems to have a good time. Uh, I’m always amazed by it. I played tournaments every week. To me. It’s just another tournament when I’m there, but, uh, yeah, people it’s, I, what it is, is it, that was part of the reason why the NHC was created is.
Horse players get treated with respect. They get treated nicely at the NAC. They feel like they’re part of something important. That was the whole part. The whole point of the NHC in the first place is a pioneer is [00:37:00] somebody that was literally in on the meetings when this thing started. And that’s what this was all about.
That spirit. But unfortunately that spirit comes with a price with the online games that, you know, I wish didn’t have to be. If you were to change one thing about the NHC, what would it be? Have a more straightforward qualifying process. And I’m actually, I’m going to say two, two things you asked for one, I’m going to say two things.
Number one, I think the qualifying parameters and how the money. How the money is created for the price post should be more straight forward. And at this point, um, I think the tour, excuse me, the NHC. I think it’s gotten. A little bit too big. I’d like to see qualifying become more difficult again. I, you know, [00:38:00] you know, maybe, you know, I, I qualified five times in whatever in 11 times, maybe I’m just running my mouth right now, but I think qualifying isn’t as important as.
This tournament it, I think if it was 400 people, 450 people, and, you know, you raised, uh, you know, the places for the, for the seats. I think he, I think it’d be a better tournament at this point. Coming from the poker world, especially, I think that’s an interesting point to consider seeing how that the, the huge influx of numbers does a lot of things.
One is it creates more randomness to my mind in the events themselves. Is that part of what you’re concerned about when it comes to potentially limiting the size of the field? I’m looking at it from a different perspective. I think qualifying and making it to the final [00:39:00] should be important. I don’t know what the exact numbers are, but, you know, having spent more time than I’d like to admit on the.
NTRA uh, NAC leaders page over the last few weeks, I believe there’s approximately 3,500 for members. And I just don’t think the ratio 3,504 members and 650 spots. I think that’s just too many spots. I just think that’s too many spots for the amount of members that there are. Dave, Dave. Well, you gotta know.
I gotta know if I’m part of the problem or not. I got to hear your, I got to hear you breaking me down. Well, you gave pizza, you gave Pete the honest assessment of himself. I got to know if I’m part of the problem. No, you’re you would, I, I still owe you a long conversation. And Jonathan, since I wasn’t on any of the other 395 podcasts on the other station, but rumor has it.
You guys [00:40:00] don’t hold a lot back when, uh, the podcasts go. And I mean this from the bottom of my heart, dude, I, this is what I’ve been meaning to say to you, since you burst, found the scene. And you’re the most talented person that I’ve seen in this marketplace and the time that I’ve been on the scene. And I absolutely hope from the bottom of my heart, that the pain, the anguish and the bitterness that I’ve dealt with with people that have defriended me been nice to me and then turn their backs on me later over the years.
I hope to God, it doesn’t happen to you did. Okay. So much, so much to say there, but I’ll stick with the simple, you know, his ego is big enough. He doesn’t need you to tell him that bit about how special he is. He’s going to be insufferable for the next week. Hey, you know what though? I had that, I had that problem, Pete, you know, you heard, you heard some of the conversations on this is I can make a private [00:41:00] show on this 20 year anniversary of the NHC.
Um, Come on. Where’s the laugh I gave a chuckle. I gave a chocolate, well, one thing for sure. I know that it, uh, at one point, uh, I, at one point there’s no question I had the best. Speech and toured history. I have a feeling that’s going to be surpassed this year. I was going to ask about that. I know Dave multiple players have changed their flights since you won the tour to be around for the awards banquet in anticipation of what you will say when you get up there, have you given it any thought yet?
Has this conversation to this point been any kind of preview? Uh, may, might we get a preview now? You’re just going to have to wait with bated breath.
There’s the lap you were looking for. You got, you got me in the belly that time. I want to spend the rest of our time today, Dave, unless you have, I’ll give you another chance to, if there’s any particular pressing issue you [00:42:00] want to get off your chest. Cause I want to make sure you have a chance to be heard in full today.
And then I want to pivot the conversation to talk a little bit more specifically about how you approach this run of yours strategically, too. Uh, to, to have the result that you did, if you did anything special to look, to get those number ones, as opposed to the twos and threes. But before we get down to the nitty-gritty of tournament strategy, is there anything else that you’d like to use, uh, our time together to talk about in terms of industry issues?
You asked the question first and I had the answer to the question and it’s a perfect dovetail into what you’re talking about. Jason beam, who has moments of sheer brilliance, the BME awards are amazing. You wrote a blog last week about racing and poker. All I’m going to say is there’s a couple of things I’ve learned from four.
Poker from horse racing. And there’s a whole lot of strategic thinking that I’ve learned [00:43:00] from poker that I’ve taken into horse racing. I would just point people in the direction of finding that Jason being blog. There’s a real lot to digest there real lot to take in. I think there’s a lot to be learned that there’s a lot from poker strategy and what’s going on in the world of poker that can be taken into the world of horse racing tournaments.
Funny enough, Jason is already booked to be our guest ahead of this year’s beamy awards on Friday’s show. So you’re, you’re helping us. We have a little production meeting in the middle of the show. I’ll make my notes and make sure to get Jason talking about that. How about from a handicapping point of view, Dave, what information are you using at this point?
What were you looking at to help fuel your run in terms of data? I have always been an old school DRF guy. Um, and that’s pretty much basically what I use. There’s I have found one public [00:44:00] handicapper on the New York circuit whose name I’m not going to give away. Who’s just tremendous. And I have 40 years of handicapping.
I’ve never followed a public handicapper and I read this guy’s analysis of the races every day as New York is the one track. The one circuit that I pay attention to on a semi reasonable basis. Um, I am an optics subscriber. It’s still very much a work in progress for me, but I’m pretty much an old school racing forum guy.
And, uh, I there’s, you know, I’ve been asked the question a number of times over the last few weeks what’s changed. What are you doing? Tell me what button to press. How do I forget? It’s it doesn’t quite work like that. And, uh, it’s just, I mean, there’s just been a bit, a lot of basic handicapping and then I’ve had some run.
Good. There’s no, there’s no magic potion. There’s no, you know, no. [00:45:00] You know, no beads, no, you know, no halo over the head. It’s just good old fashioned, just handicapping. And you know, there’s some strategies that you can use is live bankroll tournaments that you can’t use in. Especially online tournaments where all the races and you’re making the same size bats and everybody’s playing the same races.
So, um, not to give too much away. And I don’t intend on giving too much away today. Um, but poker tournaments, they usually go to the more aggressive players. And live backroll tournaments are more often going to go to the more aggressive players like I Garrett, scuba, and then I’ll let him keep winning.
The big bankroll tournaments is as long as he lets me keep winning a small backhoe. You’re you’ve chopped it up that way. The X Derby Wars crew has chopped it up. Uh, in those terms, maybe we’ll let Marshall, [00:46:00] maybe we’ll let Marshall Graham one, one, one. One day he’s been right there. He’s been right there in the past.
I know, I know. I know. Are you more selection oriented in your handicapping when it comes to these live bankroll tournaments where you’ve thrived or are you more value oriented or would you describe your approach as a blended one? Definitely blended sheltered towards value. Uh, you know, in at least three of the five concepts that I won.
I had no idea who I was going to be betting during the day of the races. And there’s at least one of those days that I didn’t pick up the form until I got to the track. I’m just basically just, just, we just winging it. The one at the one at the metal lands is the one I, I did not do any free race. I know pre-race.
Nope, no prep. And how did you let’s talk about that specific tournament? So [00:47:00] you go there, you’ve done no work. And what pools did you end up participating in? What can you give us about how you go from walking in to walking out a winner? You work backwards, you know, what am I, what’s my target. What am I trying to get to?
What’s the best way for me to get there. I mean, that’s, that’s any tournament, but even more specifically in a live bankroll tournament. And you know, in generally in five bankroll tournaments, there’s a couple of ways you can get to the number. You can either make a bet. To give you a bank roll and then you have ammo to fire for the rest of the day, or you just use the, you know, you use the money in your bank roll to Baton, uh, you know, pretty much all in, at the start, you know, uh, minimums.
Those are the other guys’ problems. Worry about those later. So being aggressive right from the beginning. And which pools are you typically targeting? Uh, usually in [00:48:00] those one pools, you know, sometimes now having said that I think the metal lands tournament was restricted to wind place and show if I remember correctly, but I thought the Hawthorne tournament, which is a total free for all, you know, one of them, I won with a super fact, uh, in a wind win-back one of them I won with a trifecta.
Uh, and it was actually a trifecta, exact combination player. I played a one horse on top, a cold exact, uh, and then I played some horses second with a horse finishing third and the horse finished third and hit the trifecta. But, uh, you know, I’m just, you know, whatever it takes. There’s no one way to get it done, especially live.
That’s the beauty of live bank. Well, tournaments of proper live bankroll tournaments is the freedom, the freedom of choice. And, um, and then a tournament where everybody’s not doing the same thing. You can do things to [00:49:00] differentiate yourself from everybody else. In that instance where you use the exact and the trifecta in the same race, why did you do that?
What was the thought process behind dividing the money into the two pools? Basically, I want it on my, my thought on the race was the Chad Brown horse was going to win at eight to five. Like chatter Brown horses always seemed to do it Saratoga. And the Brendan wall’s horse coming in from Ellis was going to run well.
And it was going to be the Chad Brown horse winning and the Brendan wall’s horse finishing second or third. And, you know, I wanted to give myself. Is much opportunity under the scenario that I painted out. If it, you know, to give myself. If the horse wins. If I get the cold, exactor great at the cold exact that comes in.
And if I get separated, then I hopefully will find one of the three or four horses that I use. I get a horse to run second, and it was to didn’t have it ran [00:50:00] second in that particular instance. Got it done. So I’m just trying to give myself the idea of a contest is not, you know, not to make mistakes and to give yourself as much opportunity under the rules of the contest to win.
And that’s, you know, as a tournament player, that’s my job is to put myself in the best. Positioned the wedding, give myself the best chance to win. And that’s essentially with the strategy that, that hopefully that’s what I’m doing. It sounds to me like part of it also is being able to express your opinion in the most elegant way.
If you can bet when you don’t want to bet an exact, if you can bet an exact exactly. You don’t want to bet a trifecta trying to manage the level of difficulty to some degree, is that part of it? Oh, it’s a huge part of it. You want to get there the easiest way possible? You know, sometimes you could argue, you’re trying to get the 12 docs, just spending 11 to one shot to win.
You make your 12 X boom. It’s [00:51:00] over. So, I mean, there’s a lot of different ways to skin that cat, but like I say, it’s, it’s just a matter of working backwards. What am I trying to get to? And then of course, if you get to that number, you can you’ll have on occasion. As I did in the last two tournament wins.
You might have any games you’re getting, you’re going to get to the end game. You’re going to get to the last price and you’re going to have to, you know, go through the decision-making processes and make the right choice. And hopefully you’re making the decisions for all the right reasons. Dave, I wanted to ask you your opinion, just like kind of an overrated, uh, handicapping angle or a handicapping idea or product, whether it’s.
Whether it’s, you know, workout reports or pace figures or, or, uh, blinkers off, or just something that, that most people subscribe to that you don’t. I think a lot matters is the problem I do flick occasionally workouts matter, occasionally blinkers matter, Lasix matters or breeding [00:52:00] matters or bias matters or pace scenarios matters.
It’s just a question of, you know, that’s. We all got into this game because we enjoyed the challenge of solving these puzzles that we see in past performance lines, which look like hieroglyphics to most other people. The one thing. That’s overrated to me when it comes to point tournaments, especially tournaments like the NHC is, you know, having, making your decisions the night before having a list of horses when you go downstairs.
It’s I just don’t think that works. You have to, you know, for a tournament like the NAC, obviously you have to have a be prepared. You have to have an outline. You have to have a sketch of what might happen, but, um, Having your conclusion drawn the night before I would, I would put that probably is. The head of the list.
No, I’m gonna, [00:53:00] I’m going to go down and there’s 10 optional races and these are six of my optional horses. I’ve watched these horses. They all had bad trips. Last time. I don’t care what the odds are. I don’t care what the bias is. I don’t care what everything else is. I love this horse that I’ve been waiting for this horse.
So I’m going to play it. I think that’s as big of a folly as any particular angle. What does preparation mean for you in a big event? It sounds like, obviously in the example of the metal lands, if it’s very straightforward, only a set amount of races, you don’t really need to prep much at all beforehand.
But what does being prepared mean to you? If it’s not shortlisting horses, it means having the past performances, which in my cases, the DRF doctored up with. Everything that I referred to is pertinent information that I want to see jump off the form. Blinkers Lasix trainer changes, [00:54:00] geldings, um, main specials in debating claiming for the first time.
Um, although, you know, if they, you know, key re you know, key races, Just getting my racing form. All the information that I want is, you know, if there is a horse with a, a good optics note, I’m trying to write the optics note. So I have all the information that I need to make the decision in a relatively quick decision in the form in front of me.
I want to know, you know, I have an idea in my mind at this stage of my life. You know, I love maiden special waits on the turf. I prefer grass racing to dirt racing. I don’t like cheap sheep, dirt racing. So I know the races that I’m likely to go in and not to give away any. Great secrets. You know, I’ll be concentrating on aqueduct Tampa and Gulf stream.
Uh, the tracks that I’ll know the most about going into the [00:55:00] NHC. So I’ll give those facts more of a look. Uh, you know, I’ll look at, uh, maidens special waits at the fairgrounds or, uh, Oak lawn or at Santa Anita. And I’ll have an idea of. Where the field sizes are big, where the races that seem likely to create prices are.
And like I say, have an overview about how the day’s going to shape out. And the hardest thing for me to do at, during a tournament, like the NHC has managed my. You know, when is the time to fire? How many bullets do you leave at various times? But, uh, you don’t have them, you know, you’re going to have some ideas.
They have horses that you, white horses that jump out after your horses that are potential place. But I, I very much am dead set against, uh, you know, making decisions the night before and really being married to them. I want to pause on the turf idea because that’s the exact opposite of the opinion that Jonathan [00:56:00] has a spoused many times on these airwaves where he does not like turf racing because he perceives it’s too much about trips and not enough about being able to, he has a selection oriented player, wants to kind of be able to.
Pick winners and leave it. There is your preference for turf racing, Dave, as simple as the other side of the coin, you want the fact that in a turf race that six to one is more likely to be able to beat those horses at the shorter end of the OD spectrum, or is there more to it? I think there’s more factors involved in surf racing.
Um, I think there’s more art to handicap than turf racing. There’s more creativity to, uh, handicapping turf racing. And over the years, most handicappers have, don’t get a lot of help. They don’t get a lot of coaching, you know, horse racing, tournament players, you know, [00:57:00] there’s literally nothing out there other than two books that I contributed to, but I was very lucky 40 years ago, uh, summer of 1980, 38 years ago, 39 years ago that I learned at the feet.
Of a turf handicapping genius in New York, his name’s Maurice well-known him served floor clubhouse back in the day. Um, and I literally charted his exact is, and I he’s the guy that I learned a lot about handicapping from and he loved it. New York turf racing. And, um, I think a lot of that has to do with Maurice, my love of turf racing.
And, um, it happened, it has to be what, you know, we also, as human beings, we’re natural. And we tend to go back to things that we’ve had success within. I’ve have had success with turf racing and [00:58:00] most specifically maiden turf racing over the years. And you tend to go back to what you’ve been successful with Jonathan or Paul Mathias, and they’re successful with dirt racing.
They liked dirt racing. Why shouldn’t they better racing? There’s plenty of opportunity. It’s a big wide world. Open out there, back to the lessons you learned from Maurice on the third floor, back in the day 38 years ago, is there maybe one lesson that pops to mind that’s as relevant today as it was back then?
Absolutely. Don’t make bad butts. Don’t take, don’t take, sorry, Dick. Don’t take the worst of it. Take the best of it. It’s easier said than done. It’s much easier said than done, and it’s still a fight that I’m working on all the time. Lack of passion for the sport actually at this point, makes it easier for me to make those decisions.
And I do know this most of us that bet on horses [00:59:00] have in some shape or form a slight DGN side. How it comes up sometimes. Who knows? All I know is this one thing that is positive about my lack of passion for racing at this point is I do not de Jen very much at all on the game anymore. Thankfully.
Handicapping is a fight. It’s a fight. Dave has been winning this season on the NHC tour. He is the NHC tour champion. Thank you, Dave so much for taking time out to join us today on the, in the money players, pod. Thanks for having me. Um, and it’s just. It’s surreal, man. I don’t know how it happened and that’s going to do it for this edition of the, in the money players podcast.
Thank you to Jonathan kitchen. Thank you to Dave Godfrey. And most of all, thanks to all of you for listening. Keep. Those messages coming, check us out in the [01:00:00] money podcast.com. Please go ahead and subscribe on iTunes, SoundCloud, wherever you get your podcasts. Leave us a review that helps out as well.
We’ve still got that survey up on the blog as well. Check it out in the money podcast.com. We will be back on Friday with Jason beam. I’m Peter Thomas foreign, a towel. May you win all your photos.