Single-Factor Betting with Mark Cramer

Roger LeBlanc (for

Do you bet on horses based primarily on their recent performance? Or do you bet primarily based on odds? According to venerable handicapping author Mark Cramer, it doesn’t have to be an either/or choice.

On LazyBettorUSA’s “Instant Value Handicapping” channel at, we interviewed Cramer and discussed wagering strategies. Mark suggests that an interesting way to merge performance-based betting and value-based (or decision-based) betting is to try single-factor handicapping. That’s an approach in which you make your wagers based on a single, likely to be overlooked factor.

About 30 years ago Mark researched betting on 5-year-old geldings. His research yielded positive results, including a 26% profit over 500+ wagers. That study was resurrected recently on Julian Brown’s excellent Facebook page, Handicapper’s Insight. In Mark’s novel Please Hold All Tickets, his main characters debate whether to trust single handicapping factors when deciding when and how much to bet.

Mark and I decided to run an updated test of the approach.

For the next 10 weeks I’ll place $2 win wagers on 5-year-old geldings at three tracks per week. We intend to bet about 10 geldings per week for 10 weeks and then publish the results. The one control factor we’ll use is trainer win percentage. We’ll require the trainer to have at least a 12% win rate for the year, for the meet or for a relevant specialty (such as 12% turf success if the race is on turf).

Click over to YouTube for our Instant Value Handicapping videos that will trace our performance for this approach. And visit our Book Shop to purchase Mark’s recently republished novel, Please Hold All Tickets.

Mark and Roger philosophize about wagering on the Instant Value Handicapping channel at YouTube.